Robin Morgan is clearly correct that women's participation in national liberation movements is often utilized by patriarchy for male ends. But while third world women need to be wary of this "demon lover" in his pseudo-revolutionary dress, first world women need to be wary of cross-cultural judgments. One woman's demon may be another's necessity, in that what is at stake for women trying to practice a life-giving avoidance of violence is, to some extent, always situationally unique. In El Salvador, women's participation in the "thanatotic" cycle of violence was certainly an insufficient means of bringing peace and transformation to that beleaguered country, but it may have been a necessary choice for many. And who can deny that even with the inherent sexist contradictions within revolutionary ranks, many Salvadoran women took the opportunity to come to a new feminist consciousness that could - just could - change the course of Salvadoran history*
Political activity has emerged from the traditions of Salvadoran women, who have drawn their strength from their maternal identity and devotion to community. During the extended power plays that have marked Salvadoran history, women have always been the mainstay of life; for they are the caretakers of their families. The traditional Salvadoran woman has been raised in a strictly Catholic environment, and remains profoundly Catholic culturally, even though she may have joined one of the evangelical sects. Typically, she is deeply spiritual; she is from the countryside, comes from a long line of landless farmers, and is poor. She may not be able to sign her own name. She is a mother and a servant. Her primary emotional relationships are often with her children. She gives birth without medical help. In imitation of the respect given to Mary, the Mother of God, motherhood is worshipped.