Much historiography focusing on women in the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army consists of describing, rediscovering, and celebrating the participation of women in the nationalist underground. This article rejects the celebratory approach to the inclusion of women in the narrative of the nationalist struggle. Instead, it focuses on the ways in which militarization of women was carried out by the nationalists from the 1930s to the 1950s. The article argues that the nationalist leadership was able to militarize a large number of women because no viable alternative to the nationalist state-building project was offered at the time, and because the nationalists propagated a conservative type of femininity that did not threaten traditional gender norms. By exploring the movement’s construction, control, and use of femininity, the article argues that deviations from traditional gender roles occurred only within the limits of, and for the benefit of, nationalist militarization.
Controlling Women’s Sexuality in the Ukrainian Nationalist Underground
This article examines how the constructions of gender, female sexuality, nation, and war by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army influenced their attitudes to intimate fraternization between women (both members of the nationalist underground and civilians) and enemy men between 1939 and the mid-1950s. Conclusions are based on the analysis of a wide range of sources. The article highlights various forms and methods of repressive measures against women who transgressed sexual norms. The article argues that the violent practices against women were not standardized, and largely depended on subjective decisions of the local leaders and commanders, as well as on the level of women’s engagement in the underground activities. Violence against women represented a tool of preservation of patriarchal power and traditional gender roles but became one of the means of constructing power relations among the nationalist men, as well as their relations with enemy men.