Abstract: This work examines how the media representation of the female self-martyrs of Dagestan and Chechnya, often dubbed “Black Widows,” portrays them as irrational, hysterical and/or desperate. The replication of the “Chechen Black Widow” narrative, applied to any female self-martyr striking on Russian soil, is clearly visible in both British and Russian media. This not only denies political agency to female attackers of Dagestani origin, but also attempts to dehumanise and demonise the entire group. By linking the bombers to unspecified “outside forces” and “Islamist” terrorism, any measures taken to suppress them, however harsh, are then justified to the public.

Keywords: Black Widow, Desperation, Agency, Female Self-Martyr, Gender, Chechnya, Dagestan