Franco’s Feminine Fascists

By Daniel Williams

If it’s so hard to define fascism, if it’s constantly shifting and changing, and if it constantly goes back on its own principles and policies, why are we so surprised that women may find an acceptable place within the new order? It’s something of a surprise itself that with all the research done on fascism, and with all the focus on the gendered nature of fascism, it has taken so long to acknowledge that some women may have been attracted on principle to fascist ideologies.

This relates fairly significantly to concepts of masculinity within fascism, as we’ve explored fairly recently. But there’s a fair number of differences between masculinity and fascism’s approach to the new man, and concepts of femininity in fascism. The article titled Blue Angels points out a fair amount of these differences. One of the most interesting points raised is the after-fact removal of women from the narrative in many senses.

Specifically mentioned is how a large number of female participants in the resistance to the Republican forces were recorded by spanish fascist propagandists to be nothing more than ideologically sound, christian women who supported the real efforts of the revolution conducted by men. This goes rather against modern research conducted on the group, which suggests these women took a much more active role as saboteurs and resistance members.

While it is notable that perhaps some of the lack of recognition is related to the diversity of the group’s recruiting (Franco’s right was not the sole right wing group involved in the civil war, and Nationalist fighters came from many walks of life), it is also possible that this disregard to the true role of women is related to ideology. The constant question in fascist ideology is of pragmatism compared to ideology. While pragmatism may allow for all manner of actions taken so long as it promotes the end goal (in this case, winning the civil war), ideology can be effected once the state is firmly secured.

Spain is a unique case where the state managed to avoid war with non-fascist nations. In other words, the state was secure. Spain is special, as unlike other fascist nations the state had a long period of time to push policy and ideology. The post-fact rewriting of history allowed the state to push its ideology within its history, and as part of this it seems that perhaps the female resistance was swept under the rug, another victim of ideology. The question remains, then, of how far fascist states or groups were willing to go during moments of crisis, how much ideology fascism is willing to sacrifice in order to ensure the security of the state.

One Reply to “Franco’s Feminine Fascists”

  1. I enjoy the theme of female resistance. It is interesting to think about resistance within a fascist regime in general. As Wendy Lower, wrote in “Hitler’s Furies”: the intricacies of the past are not always observated and peoples, in her case women in Nazi German, are overly generalized. It would have been nice to see here a discussion around women as perpetrator and victim; resistor and oppressor.

    There is a nice connection to the article for this week “Blue Angels”, discussing the after the fact removal of women from narratives. Why is this the case? I think about the facist regime’s use of narrative construction to transmit ideas about the state. Also, it would be worth while to interget the “after-fact” removal. What is being touched on here is the states use of memory when it comes to women. Sticking with the theme of female resistance how did women fight against the false legacy and memory perpetuated by the state? And what do we really know about women as resisters, if narratives were edited.

    a quick note on structure, there is aot to unpack in this response which shows that the readings have been done and thought through but perhaps drilling down on a single topic like female resistance and displaying the readings in conversation with eachother may be a rich excerise. Certainly one welcomed as a reader.

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