The Gender Politics of Political Violence

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The Gender Politics of Political Violence
The Gender Politics of Political Violence: Women Armed Activists in ETA
Author(s): Carrie Hamilton
Reviewed work(s):
Source: Feminist Review, No. 86 (2007), pp. 132-148
Published by: Palgrave Macmillan Journals
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30140854 .
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86
the gender politics of
political violence: women
armed activists in ETA
CarrieHamilton
abstract
This article aims to contributeto the developing area of feministscholarship on
women and political violence, througha study of women in one of Europe's oldest
illegal armed movements,the radical Basque nationalistorganizationETA.Bytracing
the changingpatternsof women'sparticipationin ETAoverthe past fourdecades, the
article highlights
the historicalfactorsthat help explainthe choice of a small number
of Basque womento participate directlyin political violence, and shows how these
factors have differedfrom those for men. While the gender politics of radical
nationalism are intricatelylinked to cross-culturalassociations of militarismwith
certain forms of masculinity, the article also stresses the importance of
understanding women's activism in ETA in the context of the organization's
characteristic as an ethnic nationalist movement,as well as the wider historical
circumstances of the movement's development, including the modernizationof
Spanish and Basque society over the past four decades. Althoughcomparisonswith
womenin otherarmed movementsare possible, such historicalspecificitiesundermine
any attemptto constructa universaltheoryof womenand 'terrorism',such as Robin
Morgan's 'couple terrorism'thesis. Finally, the article examines the changing
representationsof female ETAactivists in the Spanish and Basque media. Although
women ETAactivists are now regardedas 'normal', popular representationscontinue
to linkwomen's armed activismwithdeviant sexualityand the transgressionof their
natural destinyas mothers.The differenttreatmentof women is evident as well in
claims of sexual torturemade bysome detainees. The article concludes that although
the participationof women in political violence poses disquietingquestions for the
largely anti-militarist women's movement, case studies of women in armed
organizations, as well as their place in the wider practices of conflict, are an
importantcontributionboth to feministdebates about violence and to widerstudies
of political violence.
keywords
women; political violence; terrorism;ETA; Basque country;nationalism
feminist review 86 2007
(132-148)
C
2007 FeministReview.0141-7789/07 $30 www.feminist-review.com
introduction
1 Research for this
article was funded in
part by the British
Academy.
2 Studies in
English on women in
European and
American armed
organizations
movements include
Cataldo Neuberger
and Valentini
(1996), Jamieson
(2000), Passerini
(1992) and Zwerman
(1992 and 1994).
I place 'terrorism' in
inverted commas to
signal its contested
meanings. For a
critique of the term,
see Douglass and
Zulaika (1996).
3 This article was
writtenbefore the
public announcement
in March 2006 - by a
masked, female
activist - of a
permanent ETA
ceasefire. Although
ETAstill formally
exists and no doubt
will for some time to
come, this declaration
opens the possibility
of real historical
change and a possible
peace process to end
the 40-year armed
conflict in the Basque
country.
4 The article draws
primarily on three
sets of sources:
(1) the Basque and
Spanish press from
the 1960s to 2003;
(2) archival sources,
Violencehas longbeen a centralconcernforfeminist
theoryand activism.1
By
and large,however,
feminism
has definedviolence,whether
or as
interpersonal
done to womenby men.Thisfocusis
partof politicalconflict,as something
in the contextof the widespreadand cross-cultural
understandable
realityof
violenceagainstwomen,as wellas the evidencethathistorically
the agentsof
bothpoliticaland inter-personal
violencehavebeenpredominantly
men.Butin
recentyears,somefeminist
scholarshavebegunto moveawayfrom
theemphasis
on womenas victims,towardsexplorations
of the complexities
of the gender
of
the
of
roles
women
as
(Feinman,
2000;
politics conflict,
including
perpetrators
Moserand Clark,2001; Hasso,2005; Krylova,
2005).
Thisarticleaimsto contribute
to thisdeveloping
area offeminist
on
scholarship
womenand politicalviolence- and moreconcretely
whatis commonly
termed
- through
a studyof womenin one of Europe'soldestillegalarmed
'terrorism'2
the radical Basque nationalistorganization
movements,
ETA.3By tracingthe
of
women's
in
ETA
over
the
changingpatterns
participation
past fourdecades,
thearticlehighlights
thehistorical
factorsthathelpexplainthechoiceofa small
number
ofwomento participate
inpoliticalviolence,and showshowthe
directly
factors affectingthese choices have differedfrom those for men.4
the small numbers
of womenactive in ETAand otherarmed
Notwithstanding
case studiesof suchwomenhelpto expandourunderstanding
of
organizations,
the genderpoliticsof politicalviolenceby replacingbinarymodelsof victims
versusperpetrators
withhistorically
grounded
analysesof howwomenand men
resistand negotiateviolentconflictin specificcontexts.
perpetuate,
feministanalyses of women'sroles as armedactivistsprovidea
Moreover,
mediarepresentations,
as wellas muchof the
necessary
challengeto dominant
and
academic
literature
on
women
and
'terrorism'.
Todate,theanalysis
popular
of womenarmed activistshas been largelythe domainof journalistsand
or gender
criminologists,
manywithlittleor no engagementwithfeminism
As
one
of
critics
of
this
literature
noted
in
the
mid-1980s:
'The
theory.5
group
of
the
of
female
involvement
in
violence
tendto
majority
explanations
political
be highlyindividualistic,
factors,social problems,
emphasizingpersonality
boredomand so on' (Haen Marshallet al., 1986: 22).6 Such studiesoffer
based on genderand sexual stereotypes,
women's
generalizations
portraying
motivations
forsupporting
or participating
in politicalviolencein termsof the
of femalearmedactivistsare
personaland the private.Thusrepresentations
consistent
with
the
classical
Western
construction
of militarism
as a
largely
sphereof masculineactivity
separatefromthefeminine
privatesphere,a model
feminist
scholars
roundly
critiquedby
(Lloyd,1987;Enloe,1988).
Withregardto womenin ETA,bothnationalistand non-nationalist
discourses
have definedwomen'spoliticalroles as an extensionof theirsexualityor
CarrieHamilton feminist review 86
2007
133
In contrast,I considerpersonalrelationsto incorporate
a much
maternity.
I stress
members
and
friends.
other
broaderspectrum,
Moreover,
family
including
fundamental
factor
in
women's
and
havebeena
both
thatpersonalrelationships
interaction
betweenthe personal
men'sentryintoETA,and thatthe particular
is a vital
of radicalBasque nationalism
and the politicalin the development
In
of
the
the
in
factor understanding development
organization. fact, ETA's
fromits nationalist
ideologyand its rootsinthe
genderpoliticsare inextricable
inthe Basquecountry.
nationalist
community
Changesin widersocial
tight-knit
relations- includinggender- over the past several decades have had a
inETA,withmorewomen
ofwomen'sparticipation
significant
impacton patterns
activists
as
armed
and leaders. But
the
especially
organization,
entering
the
victims
of
the
to
be
have
ceased
women
only
Basqueconflict,
long
although
particulargender politics of political violence continueto shape both
of femalearmedactivists.
and materialtreatment
representational
including statistics
on ETA prisoners and
radical nationalist
documents; and (3)
popular and
academic literature
on ETA and radical
nationalism. The
archival and press
sources were
accessed at the
Biblioteca y
Hemeroteca del
Convento de los
Benedictinos de
Lazkao (Guipuzcoa)
and the Biblioteca y
Hemeroteca de la
Diputaci6n de
Vizcaya (Bilbao).
I have used the
primary and
secondary
documents both for
an historical
analysis of patterns
of women's ETA
activism and a
cultural analysis of
ETAwas foundedin 1959,20 yearsaftertheend ofthe Spanishcivilwar(1936- changing
representations of
theorganization's
ofage undertheFrancodictatorship,
founders female ETA
1939).7Coming
members, drawing
- male university
studentsfrompredominantly
middle-class,Catholic,Basque on
comparative
nationalistfamilies- werepreoccupiedwiththe perceivedthreatto Basque feminist studies of
the Spanish press
and traditionalruralway of life,spurredboth by the dictatorship's and/or
identity
literature on
industrializationwomen and
and a renewed
prohibition
againstBasquelanguageand culture,
'terrorism' (see
whichattractedlarge numbersof Spanish-speaking
migrantworkersto the especially Radcliff,
2001 and Zwerman,
began as a politicaland culturalmovement 1992). Because of
Basque country.ETAtherefore
on publicbuildings,
distributingthe scarcity of
engagedin actionssuch as paintinggraffiti
recorded
the prohibited
punishable information on
Basqueflag,all highly
illegalpropaganda,and flying
roles in
activitiesunderFranco,whichled to a series of arrestsof ETAmembers women's
ETA, in some parts of
the 1960s. Bythe middleof that decade, inspiredbythe national the article I have
throughout
supplemented
liberationmovementsof Algeria,Vietnamand Cuba, the organizationhad written
sources with
committeditselfto a strategyof armedstruggleas the routeto Basque material from
interviews I
itsfirstcasualtyand subsequentassassinationin 1968, conducted in
Following
independence.
1996-1997 with
a campaignofviolence women
ETAinstigated
intensepolicepersecution,
whichprovoked
who had been
over800 livesand leadingto the ETA activists from
thatwouldlast untilthe presentday,claiming
the 1960s to 1980s.
and deathof dozensof its ownactivists.8
For more detailed
arrest,imprisonment
qualitative analysis
make littlementionof actual women,in contrastto the of these interviews,
EarlyETAwritings
see Hamilton,
of nationaland 2000a,
and markers
2000b
positionof womenas mothers
prominent
symbolic
CatholiclegacyETAinherited and 2003 and
the traditionalist,
culturaldifference,
reflecting
forthcoming.
women in ETA: a brief history
fromits rival,the mainstream
Party(PNV).9In thisregard,
Basque Nationalist
nationalist
to thoseofmanyother20th-century
ETA'sgenderpoliticsweresimilar
combinedwiththe
movements
nationalism,
(yuval-Davis,1997). Conservative
a marked
of FrancoSpain,including
social and politicalenvironment
reactionary
134
feminist
review
86
2007
thegenderpoliticsof political violence
5 See for example
Cooper (1979)
and Benson
et al. (1982).
6 For a critique of
this literature, see
Haen Marshall et al.
(1986), Talbot
(2000/01) and
Zwerman (1992).
7 For histories in
English, see Clark
(1984) and Sullivan
(1988).
8 Since the 1960s
ETA has undergone
many divisions and
ruptures. The only
wing active today is
widely known as ETA,
though its technical
name is ETA-militar.
For simplicity's sake,
and because
evidence indicates
that the roles of
women have not
varied substantially
among different ETA
factions, I use 'ETA'
here in reference to
all factions.
9 For example, Zutik
15 (1961) and
'Edici6n Especial'
(1965). The first
written record of
women participating
directly in the
organization is dated 1963, when two
women are listed as
participants in ETA's
Second Assembly.
Editorial Txalaparta
(1993: 297).
10 Based on
comparative prison
statistics from 1975
to 1983, gathered
from press sources
and documents of
the radical
nationalist prisoner
solidarity
organization
Gestoras pro
Amn'stia.
11 See for example
Clark (1984).
12 During the
1970-1971 course
year 3% of the
wouldbe a
helpedensurethat the newradicalnationalism
genderhierarchy,
male
movement.
At
the
same
the
social
time,however, significant
predominantly
changesof the 1960s,spurredbySpain's'economicmiracle',and in particular
theentry
of increasing
numbers
ofwomenintothelabourmarket,
openedup new
for
social
and
spaces
youngwomen'scultural,
politicalactivity.Betweenthe
mid-1960sand 1970s- theyearof the landmark
Burgostrialof 16 accusedETA
members
them
three
accused
of
the
1968assassination- small
women)
(among
butsteadynumbers
of womenenteredthe ranksof the organization,
a handful
armedactivistsand/ormembers
of the executivecommittee.
becoming
attractmoreyoung
Following
Burgos,ETA'shighprofilehelpedthe organization
fromthe radicalnationalistheartland,
that is, middleand
activists,primarily
lower-middle
class youthin Basque-speaking
communities
of the semi-rural,
industrialized
interior
and
coastal
the
newly
villages.Throughout 1970stherewas
a gradualbutnotableriseinthe percentage
offemalerecruits
whoparticipated
in all capacities,fromcollaboration
to directmilitary
activity.Butthe absolute
number
ofwomenimprisoned
forETAmembership
orcollaboration
wason average
less than10%throughout
the decade.'i Within
thissmallgroupan evensmaller
number
and/orparticipated
in
belongedto theorganization's
leadership
directly
armed
and
robberies,
military
activity(e.g.
kidnappings,
bombings shootings).
The levelsof women'sand men'sparticipation
in ETA'sfirsttwo decades was
the
different
available
to them.Whilethe social
cruciallyshaped by
options
of
female
ETA
members
did
not
thoseofmen,their
origins
varyonthewholefrom
of recruitment
weresubstantially
different.
inwhichETA
Theinstitutions
patterns
was forgedin the 1960s,and fromwhichit drewthe bulkof its earlyrecruits,
wereentirely
orpredominantly
male.Whilemanyyoungmiddle-class
Basquemen
becamepoliticized
thenationalist
and local
through
youthleagueEGI,seminaries
Church
(such as Ekin,
groupsled by nationalistpriests,studentorganizations
ETA'spredecessor)
and theirneighbourhood
cuadrillas(gangoffriends),"young
access
to activitiesoutsidethe familyhomewas muchmorelimited.
women's
Bothstate and nuns'schoolsattendedbymanymiddle-classBasquegirlswere
largelyloyalto the Francoregimeand taughta strictcode of sexualand social
moralsthat discouragedgirlsfrommixedsocializing,offering
themfewof the
runbynationalist
subversive
politicalideas availableto youngmeninseminaries
Even
with
the
of
restrictions
2007).
(Hamilton,
priests
partiallifting legal
against
women'spaid labourinthe early1960s,youngwomenwhoworkedoutsidetheir
- as secretaries,
homestypically
did so in traditionally
'feminine'
professions
nursesor primary
schoolteachers(GobiernoVasco, 1982) - and not in the
factorieswhereETAheld clandestinepoliticalmeetingsand recruited
young
workers.Likewise,duringthis late Francoperiodwomen'saccess to higher
educationwas verylimited,12
thus limiting
theirpresencein anotherof ETA's
the university.3
grounds,
recruiting
CarrieHamilton feminist
review 86 2007
135
WomenwhoenteredETAin the 1960scame intocontactwiththe organization Spanish population
registered at
eithervia friendsand familymembers,
or throughmixedChurchgroupsand was
university, of which
metedoutagainstthe 28% were women
2007).Therepression
Basqueculturalactivities(Hamilton,
(Matsell, 1981: 141).
activitiesof suchgroups- mountain
local Basque culturalevents,
excursions,
13 For early ETA
to illegal recruitment
teachingBasque languagelessonsin privatehomes,and travelling
see Clark
- had the inevitableeffectof radicalizing
of patterns,Letamendia
a generation
politicalgatherings
(1984),
women.Whilea smallnumber
becamemembers (1994) and Sullivan
youngBasque people,including
(1988).
inthecultural
remained
orwereactiveas
ofETA,amongthesethemajority
front,
of the military
or politicalfronts.Buteven
ratherthanmembers
collaborators
giventheoverallgenderimbalanceamongactivists,ETA'searlyfocuson cultural
politicsallowedfora certaindegreeof mixedactivism.In contrast,withthe
inthewakeof the
frontwithin
the organization
increasedpowerof the military
1970 Burgostrial, the genderdivisionof roles became more pronounced
of
SarahBenton's
thesisthatthemilitarization
2000b),corroborating
(Hamilton,
to
accentuate
divides
movement
tends
a
(Benton,1995).
gender
the 1970swere
Thuswomen'srolesin ETAand radicalnationalist
politicsduring
was
in
which
militarism
an
conflict
the
tension
between
armed
conditioned
by
and
the
on
the
one
definedin narrowly
masculinist
hand,
terms,14
gradual 14 The security
forces were likewise
ofgenderrolesinwiderSpanishand Basquesociety,on theother. overwhelmingly
modernization
male. Even in 1999
withthe Spanishtransition
the late 1970s and 1980s- coinciding
to women
Through
constituted
Franco'sdeath in 1975- women'spresencein all only 10% of the
liberaldemocracy
following
autonomous
increased(Brooksbank Basque force
areas of Spanishpubliclife,including
politics,gradually
police
ETAsteppedup its military
thetransition
killing (Emakunde, 1999:
Jones,1997). During
campaigns,
116).
almost90 peoplein 1980alone (Clark,1984:133). Thisapparentparadoxcan be
of radical
of manyBasques,and in particular
explainedbythe dissatisfaction
forBasque
thenegotiations
withthetransition
nationalists,
process,inparticular
of police
as
levels
well
the
as
than
rather
high
independence,
autonomy
the
directed
the
especially,
during 1970s,
throughout Basquecountry
repression
at ETAand its supporters
(Letamendia,1994).
thoughnotexclusively,
of
InsideETAitselfmorenotablethanthe actual changein absolutenumbers
of womenaccused of direct
femaleactivistswas the increaseinthe proportion
roles.Bythelate 1970sat least one
inarmedactionsand leadership
involvement
of ETA's
woman- DoloresGonzalezCatarain,'yoyes'- had becomea member
executivecommittee.Overthe next20 years,police sourceswouldidentify
the 1980sand 1990sincreasing
severalotherwomenas ETAleaders,and during
numbersof womenwerechargedwitharmedactions.15The publicprofileof
increasedas womenactivistsweredirectly
femaleETAmembers
implicatedin
massacrein
the Hipercor
worstatrocities(including
someof the organization's
1987whichkilled21 peopleat a Barcelonashopping
centre),and in particular
20
afterwomenbeganto 'fall' inaction.In 1986,almost yearsafterthedeathof
in 1968,thefirstwomanwas killedinthecourseof an armed
ETA'sfirst'martyr'
action.16
136
feminist
review
86
2007
the gender politics of political violence
15 Percentages of
female prisoners accused of ETA or ETArelated crimes rose
from about 8% in
1983 to 12% in 2002.
Throughout the 1990s
the percentage
fluctuated between
10 and 13%.
16 In subsequent
years five other
womenactivists
have been killed
either by accidental
explosions or in
confrontationswith
the police. Nonetheless, womenstill
constitutewell
under 10% of ETA
activists killed 'in
action' since 1968
(El Correo 24 July
1987; ABC 25 July
2001; Egin 26 July
2001).
As women'sroles in ETAchangedthrough
the 1970s and 1980s,so too did
dominantrepresentations
of femaleactivists.But in spite of these changes
inETAcontinued
to be interpreted
as an extension
oftheir
women'sparticipation
lives
and
this
crossed
the
Moreover, interpretation
private
personalrelationships.
both
between
nationalists
and
non-nationalists
and
from
left
politicalspectrum,
to right.In the case of the press,forexample,similarrepresentations
were
this trendcontinued
Moreover,
apparentacross a wide rangeof newspapers.
the
of
the
Franco
the
ofa
beyond censorship
years
regime,
through development
free press duringand after the transitionperiod. The homogeneity
of
of femaleETAactivistscan be comparedwithPamelaRadcliff's
representations
that imagesof feminist
activistsdid notvarysubstantially
acrossthe
finding
of the Spanishpressduringthe transition
right-left
spectrum
period(Radcliff,
the extentto whichgenderstereotypescross ideological
2001), underlining
boundaries.
constructing 'couple terrorism'
In the conservative
social contextof late FrancoSpain (i.e. the mid-1960sto
most
ETAmemberswereportrayed
female
as girlfriends
of male
mid-1970s)
lured
into
criminal
as
activists,
activity
againsttheirwilloreventheirknowledge,
the following
reportof the arrestof a womanin the courseof an attempted
armedrobbery
in 1970attests:
...the youngwoman,girlfriend
of an individual
whois in Soriaprisonas a memberofthe
ETA(...) was, it is believed,coercedintotakingpart in
Basque separatistorganization
the attackbecause the organizers
thoughtthatthe presenceof a womanwouldfacilitate
17 El Correo 1
August 1970.
18 La Gaceta del
Norte 29 October
1975.
19 La Gaceta del
Norte 29 October
1975.
the actionand wouldnot raise suspicions.17
Fiveyearslater,reports
ofthedetention
of a 19-member
ETAcommando
named
threemenas full-time
armedactivistswhilethe remaining
(ninemenand seven
Onestorydescribed
women)werechargedwithlesseractionsandcollaboration.18
some of the womenas 'housewives'accused of lodgingETAmembersin their
homes,and othersas 'girlfriends'.19
Onthe surface,theseportrayals
a popularassumption
about
appearto confirm
inarmedorganizations,
thatis,thatwomenare drawninto
women'sparticipation
suchmovements
their
romantic
attachment
to a maleactivist.Themost
through
feminist
articulation
of
this
view
is
found
intheworkofAmerican
comprehensive
radicalfeminist
RobinMorgan.Intheintroduction
to theneweditionof herbook
TheDemonLover:TheRootsofTerrorism,
in 1988and reissued
originally
published
after11thSeptember
2001 Morgan(2001, [1998]: xviii)arguesthat '(F)emale
terrorists
are rare,almostalways'tokens'(...), and invariably
involved
because
oftheirloveofa particular
man,a personaldemonloverwhodrawsthemin'. Ina
titled'TokenTerrorist:
TheDemonLover'sWoman'Morgan
cites
chaptertellingly
Carrie Hamilton
feminist review 86 2007
137
- including
numerous
PatriciaHearst,
examplesof womenin armedmovements
Weather
the
theAmerican
German
Red
Faction,and,bizarrely,
Army
Underground,
- to illustrate
in
the Mansonfamily
herthesisthatwomencan onlybe involved
Assuggestedby
an armedorganization
whatshe calls 'coupleterrorism'.
through
the chapter'stitle, Morganclaims that all womeninvolvedin these vastly
movements
weremotivated
different
bythesamesinglefactor:undueemotional
to a male 'terrorist'.
and sexualattachment
book.
As a feminist
studyof politicalviolencethereis somevalue in Morgan's
it
of studieson warand 'terrorism',putssexualpolitics
Unlike
thevast majority
and genderpowerrelationsat the centreof politicalviolence(the firstedition
muchof
subtitled
OntheSexuality
was moreappropriately
Moreover,
ofTerrorism).
drawson evidenceof real gender
Morgan'schapteron the 'tokenterrorist'
Butherradical
insidearmedorganizations.
divisions
oflabourand powerrelations
is too simplisticand sweepingin scope, obscuringthe
feministframework
forparticipating
and complexities
of women'smotivations
historical
specificities
of,armedactivism.In spiteof its limitations
in,and theirexperiences
Morgan's
on interviews
academicanalysesof womenin ETA.Drawing
thesishas influenced
Reinares
withETAactivistsfromthe 1970sto the 1990s,forexample,Fernando
via contacts
tendto join the organization
concludesthat femaleETAmembers
and withwhomthe womanhas a close
witha manwhois alreadya member,
emotionalrelationship
(Reinares,2001). UnlikeMorgan,Reinaresacknowledges
to theircause prior
thatfemalearmedactivistshavean ideologicalcommitment
to theirprimary,
morepersonaland
buthe sees thisas secondary
to recruitment,
emotional
factorsmotivate
believes
that
motivation.
While
Reinares
emotional,
division
of
activistaffect:
his
a
as
maleactivists well, analysisimplies gendered
women
whereasmenare motivated
Spanish,
bytheirhatredofSpainandall things
assertion
echoes
Thus
his
thesis
love
of
a
man.
their
aredriven
Morgan's
Basque
by
towardsthe'false
is a 'demonlover'whoseduceswomen
thatthemale'terrorist'
of death' (Morgan,2001: 214).
liberation
and essentializethe
The studies above do not so muchinventas simplify
'terroristcouple'. A more detailed analysis of gender roles inside ETA
that there is evidence of heterosexualcouplinginside the
demonstrates
is morecomplicatedand contradictory
butthatthisphenomenon
organization,
and applied
modelsuggests.Asformulated
thanthe'coupleterrorism'
byMorgan
and universal
answerto a series
a unitary
provides
byReinares'coupleterrorism'
will
form
the basis of the
which
of relatedbut ultimately
questions,
separate
armedactivists?
of
women
are
the
below:
What
popularrepresentations
analysis
inpracticeinsidearmed
themselves
Howdo normative
reproduce
genderrelations
whenthese are consciouslyexploitedfor 'strategic'
including
organizations,
with male comradesinside the
purposes?Whatare women'srelationships
Andfinally,howand whydo womencome to enteran armed
organization?
in the firstplace?
organization
138
feminist
review
86
2007
thegenderpoliticsof politicalviolence
from innocent victims to 'dangerous elements'
20 El Correo 6 March
1973.
21 Interviewwith
Burgosdefendant
Itziar Aizpurua,
EditorialTxalaparta
(1993), Vol. 3: 172,
and Egin 6 August
1980, 22 November
1980 and 7 February
1981.
22 Egin, 26
September 1981.
23 Hitz 4 (August
1975, 52). See also
the example of Mikel
Lejarza (Lobo) who
infiltratedETAin the
1970s, and claimed
that being paired
witha female
activist aided their
mission because
they could pass as a
couple (Cerdan y
Rubio, 2003: 41-42).
I am indebtedto one
of the anonymous
readers of this
article for
recommendingthis
book.
24 An active
feministmovement
was not formed
inside the radical
nationalist
communityuntil the
late 1970s; but even
in the 1960s ETAwas
influencedby
debates about
women's roles in
socialist and
anti-colonial
revolutions,and in
theorythe
Whatwas generallyrepresented
in the Basque and Spanishpressin the early
1970sas fact- thatis, thatwomenwereactiveinETAas partof a heterosexual
couple- maskeda muchmorecomplexset of personaland politicalpractices
amongbothfemaleand male ETAmembers.Forone thing,the conservative
forcesand legalsystemduring
thelate Francoand
genderpoliticsofthesecurity
transition
offered
considerable
to
female
periods
strategic
advantages individual
activistsand ETAas a whole.In an exampleof the inextricable
linkbetween
and
accused
female
activists
were
sometimes
absolvedor
representation reality,
sentences
who
the
defence
that
women
were
givenlighter
byjudges
accepted
ordersand/orwereignorant
of the natureof theirpartners'
merelyfollowing
activities.20Duringthe 1970s therewere several reportedcases of lawyers
- sometimessuccessfully
- to reduceor eliminatechargesagainst
attempting
womenbyarguing
thattheywereignorant
orwivesofmalemilitants,21
girlfriends
or simply'by reasonof theirsex'.22Moreover,
as in the examplesof womenin
otherarmedmovements,
suchas themoudjahadites
oftheAlgerian
warrecorded
by FranzFanon (1989), activists- both womenand men - used popular
to avoid raisingsuspicion.Some female activistsstressedthat
stereotypes
womenwereless likelythanmento be detectedbypolice,becausea womaneitheraloneorwitha man- couldprovide
coverforpreparations,
armedactions,
escapes, etc.23In thissense,the 'terrorist
couple' in publicis best read as an
on theactivists'part,as opposedto the reflection
of
act, a deliberatestrategy
actual male-femalerolesinsidethe organization.
Thisis notto say thatETAmembers
and supporters
did notsharemanyofthese
conventional
ideas aboutfemalebehaviour
and heteronormativity.
ETA'swritings
and radical nationalistdiscoursemoregenerallyreveala tensionbetweena
beliefin complementary
to
genderroles,on the one hand,and a commitment
influenced
feminist
gender equality,
discourse,24on the other. These
by
modelsin turnsit alongsidean awarenessof the constructed,
and
competing
thereforemanoeuvrable,nature of both traditionalgender roles and of
These tensionsare epitomizedin a description
heterosexuality.
publishedin
the radicalnationalistnewspaper
of ETA's
Eginof the escape of twomembers
Madridcommandoduringa massivepolicesearchfora kidnapvictimin early
1983:
'Geos'25
... a policeforcewasset uparoundPilarNieva'shouse.Attenp.m.numerous
werepresent
at thescene.Shortly
MariaBelenGonzalez
andJoseLuisUrrusola,
thereafter,
bothwithfalseidentification,
RubioStreet.A
arrived
at thedoorof number
5 Federico
of
the
Geo
comes
out
to
meet
them
the
'We
lieutenant
andasks couplewhere
they're
going.
livehere,'theyanswer,
ID is checked
bythispointunableto turnback.Their
andtheGeo
to them,'Getinsidethe housebecausewe'regoingto havea tanglewith
officialcomments
someetarras.'
without
hercalm,embraces
hercompanion
while
shesays
losing
MariaBelen,
CarrieHamilton feminist review 86
2007
139
to him:'Let's get out of here,let's go to Mom'shouse.I'm reallyscaredof weapons.'And
to policesources,the couple'scapturewouldhave led
theyleftthe place (...) According
to the immediatelocalizationofthe place whereDiegoPradois stillbeingheldhostage.26
organizationwas
committed to the
equal participation
of women in all
activities, including
armed actions. See
Thisreportabouta prominent
femaleETAactivistunderlines
theextentto which Zutik 29 (May 1965).
Butit also demonstrates 25 Grupo Especial
genderedstereotypes
surpassedideologicalboundaries.
theshiftbythe 1980sawayfromtheidea ofwomenas unwitting
to de Operaciones
participants
(Special Operations
thatofwomenas cold-hearted
frominnocent
victims
of men,to activists Groupof the Spanish
killers,
moredangerousthantheirmale comrades.In contrastto police).
whowerepotentially
Egin 26 April
as the unknowing26
reportsof the early1970swheresomewomenwereportrayed
1983.
of maleactivists,herethisinnocenceis revealedas a cover.Thereis
girlfriends
an impliedcontrastbetweenGonzdlez'snaivefacade and the hardened- and
masculine- activistunderneath
(otherversionsof the same story
implicitly
a gunand explosivesin herbag at thetimeof
notedthatGonzalezwas carrying
27 Deia 25 April
the exchangewiththe officer).27
retainedintact
as deceitful
and dangerous
TheimageofthefemaleETAmember
the idea of the 'terrorist
the woman'spositionwithinthe
couple', reversing
from'goodgirl'to 'bad girl'.Thisportrayal
classicgenderbinary
appearsas early
of the one of the futureBurgosdefendants:
as 1969,withthe detention
1983. The contrast
between Gonz6lez
and the supposedly
stupid police officer
relies on an
ethnocentric
depiction of
southernSpanish
masculinityas
considered
a dangerous incarnated in the
... MariaAranzazuArruti
arrestedand officially
Odriozola,recently
to establish securityforces. To
oftheterrorist
witha specialmission
activist
E.T.A.,
separatist
organization
date there has been
sectionsin Navarra.The detainedhad little workon
contactsforthis organization's
subsequent
constructionsof
to attractto these
to official
statements
at thetimeofherarrest,
managed,
according
masculinityin ETA
and the Basque
VicenteL6pezIrasegui,of Bilbao,to whomshe was marriedsecretlyin
ends one Gregorio
conflict; one
last November
5. 28
Guipuizcoa
interestingarea of
research would be
intheBasqueand the relationship
themoresensationalist
Thisdescription
imagescommon
presaged
between gender and
werearrested
accused constructionsof
ofwomen
numbers
Spanishpressbylate 1970s,as increasing
of politicalviolence.Accountsof the arrestof accused femaleETAmembers Basque and Spanish
ethnicity.
hadbeenaccused 28 ABC7
withthefactthatthesewomen
a particular
fascination
betrayed
January
of armedactions.As withthe exampleof Gonzalezcited above,languageand 1969. Arrutiwas
marriedto the male
onwomen's
centred
etc.), ETAmember
physical
appearance(hair,bodies,clothing,
photographs
in the
and
their
external
contrast
between
the
femininity the mentioned
highlighting supposed
article, but other
29
associatedwitharmsandviolence. Bythelate 1970stheSpanishpress evidence indicates
masculinity
they entered the
elements'.30 organization
quotedpolicesourcesspeaking
of femaleETAmilitants
as 'dangerous
separately and met
withfemaleETAmembers
interviews
Journalists'
suggestthatmanywereawareof inside. Personal
the ironythat beingtreatedas the equals of theirmale comradesby the communication,
1996.
authoritiesdid not necessarilyreflectequal treatmentinside ETA.Several 29 Cambio 16 576
on the part of their male comrades, (13 December 1982),
discrimination
reportedexperiencing
29-3; Deia 24 April
womentold 1983; Deia 25 April
firsttwodecades. In particular,
the organization's
especiallyduring
1983.
storiesthat
of feelingpressureto 'prove'themselvesas armedactivists,31
30 Interviu 156
withmasculinity
underline
theoverlapbetweenpopularassociationsofmilitarism
(10-16 May 1979),
in their interviews
with 29.
and the gender politics inside ETA. Furthermore,
140
feminist
review
86
2007
thegenderpolitics of political violence
31 Cambio 16 576
(13 December 1982),
31. Various interviews, 1996-1997.
32 Personal communication, 1997.
33 El Mundo 27
August 1994; El Pai's
23 May 1998; Antolin
(2002: 20);
Gurruchaga (2001:
213).
34 ABC 26 August
1994.
35 El Mundo 27
August 1994.
36 ABC 26 August
1994.
37 There is some
comparative
historical evidence
that women in
guerrilla or
resistance
movements have
played the role of
'seductress' in order
to lure male soldiers
or police to their
deaths (Schwartz,
1989: 130). But as
with the case of
'couple terrorism'
such examples
should be read as
acts, as conscious
political
performances
designed to exploit
the enemy's
assumptions about
Miren
Alcedo(1996: 360) somemaleactivistsclaimedthatwomen
anthropologist
acted more 'coldly' in armed actions, and were more 'bloodthirsty'
and
'dangerous'thantheirmale comrades.
Asthenumbers
ofwomeninETAhaveincreasedoverthepast 20 years,and more
womenhavemadethenewsas suspectedmembers
oftheorganization,
therehas
beena kindof normalization
inrepresentations
ofthesewomen.In recentyears,
most reportsof womenaccused of ETA-related
offenceshave not dwelled
or speculatedwidelyabout theirsexuality.
obsessivelyon theirfemininity
has been projectedontoa
Instead,the mythof the dangerousfemaleterrorist
small numberof femaleactivistswho,through
theirpurported
actions and
between
appearance,seemto embodypopularfantasiesabout the relationship
femalesexualityand violence.Thispatternis epitomized
in imagesof accused
memberof the MadridcommandoIdoia L6pezRiaio, whosereportedexploits
the 1980s,and subsequentarrestand extradition
fromFranceto Spainin
during
1994and 2001,respectively,
haveprompted
and commentary
ongoing
speculation
in the Spanish press, incorporating
almost every imaginablemisogynist
stereotype.Few reportsabout L6pez Riaio (nicknamed,
amongotherthings,
was also reportedly
used insideETA)32
'the Tigress'- a namewhich,tellingly,
have spareddescriptions
of herappearance('tall', 'greeneyes', 'magnificent
beauty','spectacularphysique','slave to her bodyand her hair')33and her
as well as
lifestyle(in particularher supposedenthusiasmfor nightlife)34
references
to herapparently
'cold' and calculatedapproachto armedactions.3s
Constructions
of L6pezRianoas a 'dangerousetarra'36playwiththe tension
betweenwomen's'nature',a hyper-sexualized
femalerebellion
and
femininity,
violence.In the wordsof one male journalist- whoseconfessedfeelingsof
simultaneous
fascination
and repulsion
forfemale'terrorists'
led himto writean
entirebook on womenin ETAbased largelyon speculationand fantasy'Seductionand the pistolwereherweapons'(Antolin,
2002: 21).37
If imagesof L6pezRianosuggestmale fantasiesof exaggerated
and
femininity
a counter-example
the anxietiesprovoked
hyper-heterosexuality,
highlights
by
the phantomof the femaleactivistwhodoes not masqueradehersupposed
Another
sensationalist
bookaboutthe Basqueconflict
the
masculinity.
provides
- unsubstantiated
- description
of iaxi Zeberio,whowas killedby
following
a raidoftheflatwhereshe was hidingin 1998:
Basquepolice(ertzainas)during
The etarra38 looks like a brute, (with) wide shoulders, and the ertzainas who take part in
the entryof the house wherethe etarra is hidingare sure, after suitably friskingher, that
they're standing beside a man (...)
(they) verifythat an abundant mop of black hair is
coming out of the ETAmember's chest.
(Calleja,2001:269)39
linkedto sexualdeviance- whether
Justas women'sarmedactivismis directly
orimpliedlesbianism it is likewise
as a perversion
oftheir
promiscuity
regarded
CarrieHamilton
feminist review 86 2007
141
Severalofthemoreluriddescriptions
offemaleETAmembers
destinyas mothers.
makedirectreference
to theirreproductive
In 1996,forexample,El
functions.
Mundo columnist MartinPrieto wrote of Belen Gonz6lez that '...
(she) has
menstruated
morebloodfromhergunthanfromhervagina!';fiveyearslaterhe
the
to LopezRiafio:'La
repeated same clichealmostwordforwordin reference
her
is
more
worried
about
menstruation
about
the bloodshe lets
than
Tigresa
bloodwiththeir
the spillingof theirmenstrual
spillfromothers'.40Bylinking
that
female
activists
theirnatural
fatalactionsthesereferences
imply
transgress
life
to
rather
than
take
it.
duty give
has definedwomen'sprimary
roleas the
radicalnationalist
rhetoric
Historically,
and supportof nationalculturaland male nationalistactivists,
reproduction
ina
AswithIrishRepublicanism,
as mothers.
mostconcretely
similarly
grounded
in
the
radical
of
Catholicism
and
tradition
Marian
Basque
worship,
strong
been
the rolesof mother
havenothistorically
worldview
and warrior
nationalist
was nowhere
considered
compatible(Dowler,1997).Thepowerofthisopposition
moreclearthanin the case of DoloresGonzdlezKatarain,'yoyes',one of ETA's
comradesin 1986,
whowas killedbyherformer
firstfemaleexecutivemembers,
In an important
severalyearsaftershe had lefttheorganization.
earlyfeminist
that
the
late
of
death,
BegoiiaAretxagaarguedconvincingly
analysis yoyes's
to
live
civilian
to
leave
activism
and
decision
a
life,including
havinga
yoyes's
forETAleadersa threatening
child,constituted
collapse of genderidentities
has aided
thatyoyes'sstatusas mother
(Aretxaga,
1988).41I wouldarguefurther
a victimof ETA,in spiteof her
of heras primarily
the subsequentconstruction
roleas an ETAactivistand leader.
significant
have shiftedoverthe past four
of femaleETAmembers
Whilerepresentations
decades, fromimages of innocentvictimsto 'dangerouselements',these
positing
depictionshave remainedwithinthe same ideologicalframework,
and
women'spoliticalactivismas an extensionof theirpersonalrelationships,
that
will
But
as
the
next
section
their
argueexplanations
specifically sexuality.
associatewomen'sarmedactivismwiththe personaland the private,bothdeny
thewider,andchanging,
thesewomenfullpoliticalagencyandfailto understand
and social contextin whichall ETAmembers
historical
joinedthe organization.
gender and sexuality, as opposed to
evidence of the
female activist's
gender and sexual
identity.
38 Member of ETA.
39 I thank one of
the anonymous
readers of this
article for this
reference. Like many
popular books about
ETA, this one is both
sensationalist and
unreliable.
Nonetheless, it was
awarded the Espasa
essay prize in 2001
by a jury that
included several
prominent Spanish
intellectuals. Thus
although I do not
consider it a valid
source of empirical
evidence on ETA or
the Basque conflict,
it is valuable as an
example of the kind
of representations of
female ETA activists
that circulate,
largely uncritically,
among both general
and more elite
Spanish readerships.
40 El Mundo 3
January 1996 and 12
May 2001.
41 While gender is
an important factor
in understanding
yoyes's death and
the publicity around
it, the murder had
wider political
causes and
meanings. For a
detailed analysis,
see Aretxaga (1988).
beyond 'couple terrorism': friends and family
networks
WhileETAmembersremainoverwhelmingly
male, the qualitativenatureof
has continued
to changeoverthe past twodecades,with
women'sparticipation
policeand mediaspeculationthatwomenare activeas high-ranking
increasing
are 42 The Guardian
membersof the organizations'
Again,these developments
leadership.42
August 2002.
and
in
and
with
wider
consistent
politicsgenerally, in
changes Spanishsociety
142
feminist
review
86
2007
the gender politics of political violence
27
Overthe past decade, a womanhas led one ofthe
Basquesocietyin particular.
non-violent
andwomen
act as
smaller,
Basquenationalist
parties,
increasingly
43 El Pai's 22 May
2005.
44 The youth
movement jarrai was
particularly active in
the 1990s,
associated
overwhelming in the
public mind with the
kale borroka or
street violence of
radical nationalist
youth. My research
did not cover the
participation of
young women in
Jarrai, nor am I
aware of any study
of the gender
politics of the kale
borroka. My overall
impression from
coverage of the
Basque conflict over
the past 15 years is
that while there
have been female
spokeswomen for
Jarrai, and many
young women
arrested as accused
collaborators with
the movement, the
street violence itself
was carried out
predominantly by
young men. Further
research would be
required to
substantiate this.
45 The information
in this section was
gathered from a
survey of major
Spanish and Basque
newspapers (El
Mundo, El Pai's, El
Correo, Deia, Egin
and Gara)
between 1982 and
2003.
46 For the
sociological profile
of ETA members from
1977 to 1998, see
Reinares (2004).
While this article by
Reinares makes the
same erroneous
claims about wo-
In the Basque regional
spokespeopleof the radicalnationalistorganizations.
electionsinApril2005womenwereelectedto a recordmajority
of parliamentary
with
the
increase
over
the
last
20 yearsof
seats.43Correspondingly,
steady
inall levelsofeducation,work,
and politics,as wellas the
women'sparticipation
creationof a co-ed youthculturewithinthe radicalnationalistcommunity,44
similarroutesto their
youngwomenhavebeenmorelikelyto enterETAthrough
male counterparts,
even if proportionally
their numbershave not risen
substantially.
An analysisof the profilesof 14 womenaccused of armedactivityand/or
in press
leadershippositionsin ETAfromthe early1980suntil2003,as provided
accountsof theirarrestsor deaths,45demonstrates
like
that,
earlywomen
later
female
activists
come
have
from
similar
social
to
recruits,
backgrounds
46
theirmalecomrades.
Mostenteredtheorganization
intheirlate teensor early
20s. Whilethe majority
came fromareas withhistorically
highlevelsof support
fornationalism,
mostnotablythesmalltownsofthe provinces
ofGuip(izcoa
and
a shiftin ETA
Vizcaya,at least a thirdwerefromlargerurbanareas, reflecting
recruitment
from
the1980sonwards
patterns
(Reinares,2004:481). The
generally
werefrompredominantly
majority
'ethnically'
Basquefamilies(as suggestedby
theirsurnames),
severalofthemBasque-speaking;
buta smallnumber
werefrom
familieswhohad migrated
to theBasquecountry
fromotherpartsofSpain,again
in keeping
overthepast 20 years.Regardless
of
withchangesinETArecruitment
theirchildhoodorigins,almostall had been involvedin radicalnationalistor
otherformsof activismbeforegettinginvolved
in ETA,strongly
that,
indicating
liketheirmale counterparts,
a
had
conscious
commitment
to
nationalism
they
and theuse of politicalviolencebeforeentering
ETA.Finally,
women'sentryinto
theorganization
followed
a similarpatternto thatof malecomrades:theywere
ofETAwholivenormallives)beforepolice
typically
'legal' activists(i.e. members
identification
forcedthemto go underground
and becomefull-time'illegal'
activists.
Themostimmediate
factordifferentiating
thesefemaleETAactivistsfromtheir
male comrades(besidestheirrelatively
smallnumbers)
was thatthesignificant
of them(nine of fourteen)reportedly
had male partnersinsidethe
majority
this statisticseems to confirm
the 'couple terrorism'
organization.
Although
thesisoutlinedabove,further
shows
that
this
thesis
does notaccount
analysis
forthe specificsocial and culturalcircumstances
in whichthesewomenjoined
ETA.First,pressreports
do notspecifywhenthesefemaleactivistsformed
their
with
male
comrades.
As
the
case
of
Arruti
above
relationships
indicates,we
shouldnotassumea womanwitha malepartner
insideETAwas recruited
byhim.
Giventhesevererestrictions
forsocialand sexualrelationships
inhiding,
andthe
extremegenderimbalanceamongarmedactivists,it is hardlysurprising
that
CarrieHamilton feminist review 86
2007
143
withmalecomrades
havehad sexualrelationships
manymorewomenreportedly
than vice versa.47It is also important
to note that whilereportsof female
includetheirromantic
activistsalmostinvariably
liaisons,pressaccountsofthe
arrestordeathof a maleactivistare less likely
to reportdetailsof hispersonal
relationships.
men's entry and
roles in ETA as
Reinares (2001), the
quantitative data on
activist origins is
largely consistent
with other studies,
for example
Dominguez (1998).
Butevenif heterosexual
insideETA, 47 This is not to
coupleshave beena commonphenomenon
that
amongETAmembers. suggest
theyare onlyone ofa widerangeof personalrelationships
heterosexual
In a discernablepatterndatingbackto ETA'searlydays,and notedbyseveral coupling is natural
in conditions of
otherscholars(Dominguez,
1998;Letamendia,
1994;Reinares,2001), maleand clandestinity, or
friendsor indeed in any
recruited
to the organization
femaleactivistsare commonly
through
context. To my
14
for
of
the
female
activists
members.
Thus,
sampledabove knowledge there
example,
family
insideETA, have been no public
or currently
onlyone had no reportedpartneror relativepreviously
reports of lesbian or
and severalhad morethan one, including
cousins,siblings,uncles,and even gay male couples in
ETA; but this is likely
parents,as well as partners.If we considerthat manywomenprobablyalso more indicative of
shared
thenetwork
ofsocial relationsexpandsevenfurther
had activistfriends,
beyond the
heterosexism of the
the heterosexual
couple. Whilesociologicalstudies(e.g., Reinares,2004) do radical nationalist
media
and
on familyrelationships
not often includespecificinformation
among ETA (see Spanish
the description
ETAactivists48
look at the profilesof prominent
a cursory
members,
suggests of Zeberio above) as
well as the military
to be as fundamental organization
thatdetailedanalysiscouldrevealpersonalrelationships
itself,
as theyare for than the actual
of maleETAmembers
and recruitment
to the politicalformation
sexual preferences
women.
and practices of ETA
members.
fromother 48 See for example
ETAand its membership
This patterndistinguishes
substantially
biographies of
withthenotableexception the
armedorganizations,
Western
European
contemporary
dead ETA members in
of the nationalistIRA.49Unlikemostmembersof far-leftarmedclandestine Editorial Txalaparta
(1993).
and Italy,wholefttheirfamiliesand localcommunities
groupsinWestGermany
49 For an analysis
valuestheyassociatedwiththem- to become of the gender
and the liberalor conservative
have been drawnfromthe politics of Irish see
ETA
members
historically
revolutionary
activists,50
Republicanism,
and friendsthat make up the Aretxaga (1997).
of family,neighbourhoods
close-knitnetworks
radicalnationalistcommunity.
Farfromrebelling
againsttheirparents,many 50 See various
articles in
of activism(Hamilton, International Social
tradition
as carrying
on a family
activistssee themselves
of understandingMovement Research
2000b). These differencesunderlinethe impossibility
4 (1992) and
violence
on
universal
inpolitical
based
forparticipation
motivations
assumptions Zwerman (1994).
Variations
on the
or the genericidea of 'terrorism'.
about genderor sexuality,
that
women's
the
model
not
terrorism'
assumption
only betray
'couple
in politicalviolencemustbe on somelevelsexual,
forparticipating
motivations
motivated
bythe private,butalso obscurea muchwiderrangeof personaland
fromthe outset, in the
familial relationsthat have been instrumental,
nationalistcommunity
the
radical
of ETAand
and regeneration
construction
foractivismto
women'spersonalmotivations
aroundit. Ratherthancontrasting
take
intoaccount
must
studies
of
armed
activists
men'smorepoliticalreasons,
bothmaleand
ofthepersonalandthepoliticalinforging
thecomplexinteraction
femaleactivism.
144
feminist
review
86
2007
thegenderpoliticsof political violence
conclusion
Evidenceof the patternsof women'sentryintoETAindicatesthaton the whole
in armed activismhave not differed
for participating
women'smotivations
from
those
of
men
that
is, a personaland politicalcommitment
substantially
to the radicalBasquenationalist
and to attainingindependence
for
community
the Basque country
the
use
of
violence.
to
Contrary popularopinion,
through
thereis littleevidencethatwomenare luredintoactivismbymen,orthattheir
of theirsexuality.Whathave differed
activismis an expression
are
historically
the social conditions
and opportunities
forwomen'sand men'sactivism,
on the
one hand, and the deeply entrenchedassociation betweenmilitarism
and
bothin widersocietyand in ETAitself,on the other.
masculinity,
51 Egin 7
October 1987, 24
November 1990, 28
July 1996, and 30
August 2001.
52 See also the
report of Zeberio's
death in ABC 6 June
1998.
Theparticipation
of smallnumbers
of womenin politicalviolenceinthe Basque
raises thorny
scholarsand activists,whohave
country
questionsforfeminist
contributed
to thedevelopment
ofbothimportant
ofthegenderpolitics
critiques
of militarismand vibrantanti-militarist
movements.Yet, if as growing
comparativeevidenceindicates(see Hasso, 2005), womenare increasingly
inarmedmovements
acrosstheglobe,newtheoretical
and political
participating
are
called
for
to
understand
in
the
circumstances
whichcertainwomen
strategies
choosearmedactivism.Moreover,
the studyof femalearmedactivistscan help
to breakdownthedichotomy
betweenvictims
and perpetrators
inconflict.
While
it is essentialto insiston theethicaland politicalresponsibilities
of individuals
and groupswhocommit
evidenceinthecase of ETA
violence,thereis significant
thatmaleand femaleperpetrators
are subjectto different
treatment
notonlyin
the press,butalso bythe security
forces.Oneis struckin readingaccountsof
intheSpanishand Basquepressoverthepasttwo
arrestsoffemaleETAmembers
decades by the frequentspeculationabout some of these women'ssexual
activitiesin contrastto thealmosttotal lackof reporting
oftheaccusationsof
sexual and gender-specific
torturemade by some female detainees.5'yet,
this periodthe radicalnationalistpressreported
testimonies
that
throughout
includedharassment,
threatsof rape and actual sexual assault, and in 2000
International
concerns
abouttheclaimofsexualtorture
made
Amnesty
reported
Mediasilencesurrounding
thesecases is all
byone accusedfemaleETAmember.
the morenotablegiventhe significant
in the Spanishmediain recent
reporting
decades of silence- of cases of domesticviolenceagainst
years- following
women.
Mypointis notto arguethatwomenwhocommitpoliticalviolenceare firstand
foremost
or as targetsof policeviolence.
victims,be it as unwitting
girlfriends
Butnoris it validto maketheoppositeclaim,thatis, thatfemaleterrorists
are
moredangerousthantheirmale counterparts
(Antolin,2002).52Whileseveral
womenare currently
sentencesin Spanishand Frenchprisons
servinglengthy
accused of armed actions causing multipledeaths, there is absolutelyno
CarrieHamilton
feminist review 86 2007
145
evidencethatwomeninETAon averagecommit
more- or morefatalempirical
violentactionsthanmen.To the contrary,
sentencing
patternsindicatethat a
for'blood crimes'are men.53
of ETAmembers
substantialmajority
imprisoned
Theimplications
ofthisevidencego beyondthecase ofETA.Astherecentmedia
the femaleUS soldieraccused of torturing
frenzy
surrounding
Iraqi prisoners
to make
of femaleviolencecan function
indicates,the supposedexceptionality
serious
tortureitselfappear exceptional(D'Cruzeand Rao, 2005), foreclosing
discussionaboutthe systemicuse of tortureand state violence,as wellabout
thewidergenderpoliticsof conflict.Inthecontextofthecurrent
global'waron
all
'terrorism'
is
the
in
which
leaders
declare
that
same, case
terror',
political
intellectualand political
studiesof femalearmedactivistsare an important
not onlywhysome womenparticipatein political
resourceforunderstanding
the
ofthe 'femaleterrorist'
violence,butalso howconstructions
operatewithin
widerframeof politicalconflict.
author biography
inLondon.Her
teachesSpanishstudiesat Roehampton
CarrieHamilton
University
and
cultural
researchinterestsincludefeminist
memory historiesof
theory,
Herbookon women,ETA
in
America.
activism
and
Latin
women'spolitical
Spain
Press.She
is published
and radicalBasquenationalism
University
byManchester
the
Revolution.
of
Cuban
on
collaborative
oral
a
is currently
history
working
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