Women’s Lebensraum, Women’s Loot

So far we have only considered two long-ago and rather savage societies. What then of modern wars, and the women on what they assumed, perhaps wrongly, was the winning side? It is not so very long ago that a war was fought in Europe for “living-space”. I am given to understand that revisionist historians are now looking at Eva Braun not so much as a bimbo but as a committed national socialist. Magda Goebbels certainly was. I doubt that any scholarly work has been done on the positive attitudes of ordinary German women to expansion and conquest in the East; it seems as if the old habit of regarding women only as passive victims is still very much with us. Now, the idea was for the surplus German population to be resettled in the Slavic lands, just as it had been in the 12th century – Go East, young man. And did that young man really intend to go East without a woman of the Volk to bear his children? Or must we imagine the women of the Bund Deutscher Mädel being dragged along by the Unmoved Movers, as mere baggage, incapable of their own ambition and agency?

It requires a rather special kind of mind to imagine that, when Hans Schmidt said to his wife, “Liesl, now we can leave our smallholding on this wretched Prussian soil and have a farm of our own in the chernozem, ten times bigger, with Ukrainian serfs to till it for us and relieve you of all the housework. You will be mistress of many servants!”, Liesl answered him, “But Hansel, that would be dreadfully unkind to those poor Ukrainians, I would much prefer to stay here and scrub the neighbours’ floors for extra money.”

The same calculus is even applicable to the Holocaust. How many German women exhibited sisterly solidarity with the dead Jewesses whose worldly goods they could now acquire for a song, or be given by their SS husbands coming home on leave? Looting the resources and thinning the ranks of the sexual competition are eminently rational strategies.

The conventional view that world conquest and wars of extermination are dreamt up by men with no input from their wives, mothers and sisters requires us to believe that women value their own economic well-being less than their solidarity with people not of their ethnic or social group. This is a truly heroic assumption.

It is time for the perspective of women as independent players rather than passive spectators to be extended to the whole period of German history, and also to the women of any other country that has engaged in military adventures or internal purges. For example, every time Stalin had a Bolshevik leader shot, everyone moved up one. Did the wives protest against having a better Kremlin apartment and dacha on those terms?

Similarly, we have heard plenty from the women who opposed the Vietnam and Iraq wars, but have we adequately studied the women who supported them? Evo-psych suggests, a priori, that Serbian women ought to have had a genetic interest in the rape camps, in that their brothers and cousins would thereby have more offspring carrying their common genes, but without having to expend any resources on supporting them; the reason no one has investigated Serbian women’s attitudes to the Balkan wars may be, not that the hypothesis is uninteresting, but that no one would ever risk the possibility of it being confirmed.

For men like to think of themselves as the movers and shakers, and have no interest whatever in seeing themselves merely as the hired muscle. And women profit very greatly from men’s delusion that they are the only players, even as they disingenuously pretend to challenge it. Women’s determination to think of themselves, and be thought of, as independent players lasts only until the moment when their actions have undesirable consequences – ooops, we lost the war – whereupon they revert to being the involuntary passengers in the male-driven vehicle.

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