Maintaining Privilege

These readings connected the ways in which women engage in politics and war within fascist movements, from Spain to Germany and ending in France. The largest connection between these women are their ideologically right leanings and the ways in which they navigate the patriarchal structures of their movements and time. What we can see is that even though women on the right advance and protect the patriarchal structure and gender norms, it is because they remain relatively insulated from them or benefit from keeping them. While they actively advocate and engage in violence to ensure that structures remain in place to oppress them, they can still maintain privilege from intersecting structures.

It is interesting to compare the ways women from the fascist party in Spain work within a system and movement that actively preaches the submission and passivity of women, which continues to be normalized in the rhetoric around conflict, yet they both participated, benefited, and upheld these norms. We can see they work against their gender interests to fulfil their other interests, specifically their conservative views, as their actions were devalued and reduced to an extension of the feminine. Their roles were minimized and told through the male gaze, yet these women continued to support and act in defense of fascism. For them, their race/religion/ethnicity surpassed the oppressive structures they existed within, the suffering of other women who had intersecting identities were targeted to maintain privilege. They placed their identities of nationalist, and what that entails, above the ways in which their party and ideology harm women.

Hitlers Furies chapter on Why Did They Kill? Touched on several themes from last week that we discussed, specifically the role of women in violence and murder. While we have been socialized within the patriarchal structures that perpetuate a narrative of victimhood, weakness, and lack of agency for women, Hitler’s Furies challenges these assumptions. The role of women in the Third Reich was violent and bloody, and while we attempt to assign murder to men, German Nazi women showed that murder transgressed gender norms. The role of women and their actions were minimized because they did not hold as many high positions, yet their actions were as abhorrent and violent as their male counterparts. Yet again, the narrative then was German women/children needed protection, and the research on these women is under-developed in contrast to Nazi men. It is also important to connect the ways in which privilege and the desire to maintain white privilege allowed German women to disregard the gendered and patriarchal oppression they were subjected to, similarly to Spanish women.

These very easily connect to the uptick in far-right women in our contemporary society, as demonstrated by Marine Le Pen and her nationalist and violent ideologies. The strategy of the French far-right is to invalidate women’s agency and play into patriarchal norms of women as victims and weak to entrench fear of “the other” within society and highlight herself and her party as saviors. This serves as a catalyst for party’s anti-immigrant sentiments and allows white French women, specifically those on the right, to maintain their privileges within white supremacy.

The overall connection we see with these women, is they are willing to maintain patriarchy if it benefits them. Persecuting others is essential to this, as the idea of scarcity of privilege manifests through violence, they must remove/kill/villainize those who pose a threat to their status, regardless of the repercussions of their own gender oppression.


Wendy Lower, Hitler’s Furies (Houghton Mifflin, 2013).

Sofía Rodríguez López and Antonio Cazorla Sánchez. “Blue Angels: Female Fascist
Resisters, Spies and Intelligence Officials in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–9.” Journal of
Contemporary History, vol. 53, no. 4, (Oct. 2018), pp. 692–713.

Angelique Chrisafis, “From Le Pen to Alice Weidel: How the European far-right set it
sight on women” The Guardian January 29, 2019

3 Replies to “Maintaining Privilege”

  1. Hi Alex,

    I totally agree with your argument. I also found it interesting how women were utilized for the benefit of authoritarian regimes and far-right groups yet they still support them even if their role isn’t major. Otherwise, they changed their behaviour to become more like men and were perfectly okay with that. Looking at how far-right groups nowadays are slowly accepting the fact that they need to be accepting of women, and even LGBTQ members in some cases, in order to gain more votes. It is still shocking that women can still support a group that typically portrays a more patriarchal stance. Hitler’s Furies really threw me for a loop.


  2. Hi! I liked that you gave attention to the fact that women and children were automatically considered as needing protection, so women were not spontaneously studied in terms of perpetrating violence… when there were instances of women being violent to children!!

  3. You mentioned that women support these far right groups because they are insulated from them or benefit from keeping them, and I have to agree that sometimes that is the case. Especially in terms of benefits. I’m concerned, however, that by delegating their roles to blind insulated following or seeking benefits, there is a danger in assuming that they are unaware or incapable of fully understanding what they are supporting. I think that it is important to note that other women within these groups are completely aware of the full implications of patriarchal structures, yet do not feel that that are oppressed or suffer under them.

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