The essay, "Mafiosi and Terrorists: Italian Women in Violent Organizations," by Alison Jamieson, discusses the role women have played in violent organizations in Italy. Despite male exclusivity and authoritarianism, women involved in such organizations have come a long way in widening the horizons of female influence in administration and commercial roles. The paper looks at, analyzes and compares two main violent organizations in Italy, the leftist terrorist Red Brigades and the Sicilian Mafia.
The Italian feminist movement of the 1960s spurred a new drive toward female activity in violent organizations on the extreme left side. "For the majority of women adherents, the feminist cause was an end in itself, but within the growing militancy of the extra-parliamentary Left it was a political exercise ground for a more radical battle and more extreme methods." (Jamieson 53) By insisting on a separate identity and a set of demands that purposely excluded men, women paved their way to higher standing in the extra-parliamentary left. Jamieson also comments that mainstream feminism involves embracing a broader set of goals that explicitly required the use of violence.
The fight for female equality and ascendancy in a male dominated society took a great effort and involved a great struggle. Many women joined the armed struggle not only to bring down capitalist society, but also to fight the return of fascism. Susanna Ronconi of the Red Brigades "recalls that the choice to abandon the feminist group in which she had militated overtly in favor of clandestine armed struggle had been particularly difficult because it implied breaking off all contact with her mother, who had shared so...
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...; father, husbands, and sons. Some women were born into the mafia, reaping all the benefits, riches and fame, without any of the effort or labor. Others married into the organization, starting a family centered on the Mafia lifestyle. These women truly had nothing to do with the organization, though, except to marry two clans together and unify them or to have sons who would become members. Such women only reaped the benefits of Mafia association rather than working for their gain.
Both the Cosa Nostra and the Red Brigades represent two different types of female involvement. While the Red Brigades encourage female involvement and association, the Cosa Nostra respects female passivity. However, the Red Brigades represents much stronger female membership and activeness, therefore symbolizing the epitome of female involvement in Italian violent organizations.
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