March 3, 2010

Among the Women of the ETA

This text was originally the first chapter of a book called Shoot the Women First written in the late 1980s by Eileen MacDonald. In her book MacDonald explores the role of women who are involved “violent” or “terrorist” organizations: the ETA (the Basque separatists movement), the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the Irish Republican Army, Leila Khaled of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Baader-Meinhohf Gang and the Red Army Faction, Kim Hyon Hui (who blow up a plane for the North Korean government), and Susanna Ronconi of the Red Brigades. The title of this book comes from orders rumored to have been given to police forces who specialized in terrorist incidents. Upon hearing this from a special agent in the German terrorist unit, MacDonald set out to investigate the reason behind this piece of advice.

While the book provides great insight into these organizations and individuals, MacDonald is by no means sympathetic to the causes of those she is interviewing and writing about. Her interest in these groups extends only to the role of these women and their relationship to violence: whether or not women are more brutal, more committed, and more dangerous than their male counterparts. She explores the idea that women have a greater capacity for violence because of their biology: they give life, and are therefore more able to take it; and that patriarchal relations makes women tougher because they feel that they have more to prove, that they can be equally, if not more, violent and brutal than men.

In printing “Among the Women of the ETA” out intention was to take a look at one instance of women in militant struggle. We are not really concerned with the struggle of the ETA, nor any other nationalist movement.
What was appreciated about this particular interview was that the women didn't seem to dwell on the fact that being women made them different than their male counterparts but seemed to embrace the idea that they were equal, both as individuals and as comrades, but were willing to discuss that differences that did exist and analyze how that affected their struggle. Many of the texts out there about women in militant roles written by anarchists are about the same few people or groups or have the same perceptive and bias – which is what makes this zine interesting, it's different. And while the ETA is not anarchistic, many of the tactics that they discussed in the interview are things that some anarchist embrace -- clandestine action, bombings, attacks on police and judges, etc. And as such we found these women's thoughts relevant.

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