"Resistance is Possible"
Interview With Two Members Of Rote Zora
Let's start with who you are.
Zora 1: If this is a personal question, then we are women
between the ages of 20 and 51. Some of us sell our labour, some
of us take what we need, and others are "parasites" on
the welfare state. Some have children, some don't. Some women are
lesbians, others love men. We buy in disgusting supermarkets, we
live in ugly houses, we like going for walks or to the cinema, the
theatre or the disco. We have parties and we cultivate idleness.
And of course we live with the contradictions that many things we
want to do can't be done spontaneously. But after successful actions
we have great fun.
What does your name mean?
Zora 2: "The Red Zora And Her Gang" (a children's
book) - that is the wild street kid who steals from the rich to
give to the poor. Until today it seems to be a male privilege to
build gangs or to act outside the law. Yet particularly because
girls and women are strangled by thousands of personal and political
chains this should make us masses of "bandits" fighting
for our freedom, our dignity and our humanity. Law and order are
fundamentally against us, even if we have hardly achieved any rights
and have to fight for them daily. Radical women's struggles and
loyalty to the law - there is no way they go together!
Yet it is no coincidence that your name has the same first letters
as the Revolutionary Cells (RZ).
Zora 1: No, of course not. Rote Zora expresses the fact
that we have the same principles as the RZ's, the same concept of
building illegal structures and a network which is not controlled
by the state apparatus. This is so we can carry out our subversive
direct actions - in connection with the open legal structures of
various movements. "We strike back!" - this slogan of
the women of May 1968 is no longer as controversial today regarding
individual violence against women. But it is still very controversial,
and most of the time taboo as an answer to the power conditions
that steadily produce this violence.
What actions have you carried out and what was the background?
Zora 2: The women of the RZ started in 1974 with the bombing
of the Supreme Court in Karlsruhe because we all wanted the total
abolishment of Paragraph 218 (the abortion law). On the Walpurgisnight
(last day of April, "Women Take Back The Night") 1977,
we bombed the Federal Doctor's Guild because they undermined even
this reduced abortion reform. Then the bombing against Schering
during its Duogynon trial, and constant attacks against sex-shops.
Actually one of these porno stores should burn or be devastated
every day! Therefore we think it absolutely necessary to tear the
oppression of women as sexual objects and producers of children
out of the "private domain" and to show our anger and
hate with fire and flames.
Zora 1: We don't limit ourselves to direct or obvious women's
oppression. As women we are also concerned about social power conditions,
whether it be urban or environmental destruction, or capitalist
ways of production; the same conditions men are confronted with.
We don't like the left's "division of labour" under the
motto: the women for the women's question, the men for the general
political themes. Nobody can take away from us the responsibility
for changing our everyday life. Therefore, for example, we have
set fire to the fancy cars of the lawyers of "slumlord"
Kaussen, who were responsible for a series of brutal evictions.
Together with the RZ's we printed pirate public transportation tickets
and distributed them in the Rulo area to introduce a little bit
Zora 2: Our latest bombimgs were directed against Siemens
and the computer company Nixdorf. They promote the devlopment of
new domination technology for more sophisticated possibilities of
war production and counter-revolution. They also have the function
of remodelling labour, especially on the backs of women world-wide.
Women here will be exploited with the technology of these companies
by working isolated from each other in part-time jobs, without social
security. The women of the so-called Third World will be worn out
by producing these technologies. At the age of 25 they are totally
How important is the connection to the Third World, the exploitation
of women there, for you?
Zora 1: In all of our attacks we've declared this context,
also when we attacked the women traders and the Philippine Embassy
last year. We don't struggle for women in the Third World - we instead
struggle with them, for example against the exploitation of women
as a commodity. This modern slave trade has its equivalent in the
conjugal possession conditions here. The forms of oppression are
different but they all have the same roots. Nobody can play cards
with us any longer. The separation between men and women has its
equivalent internationally between people of the First and Third
World. We ourselves profit from the international division of labour.
We want to break with our involvement with this system and understand
our common interests with women from other countries.
You explained how you understand your practice, but you didn't
explain why you organize yourself in the context of the RZ's.
Zora 2: First of all the main reason is that these politics
were devloped by the RZ's and we still think they are correct. During
our development we determined our own content - therefore we organized
autonomously as women - but we fall back on the experiences of the
RZ's. We also think that the cooperation of radical groups can strengthen
the militant resistance. There were productive forms of cooperation
such as the actions against Reagan's visit or the discussion paper
about the peace movement. But there are also stressful discussions.
Sometimes men who otherwise transform their radical breaking with
this system into a consequent practice are alarmingly far away from
realizing what anti-sexist struggle means and what meaning it has
for social-revolutionary perspective. Between us women it is also
controversial where the limits are, when a cooperation strengthens
or paralyzes our women's struggle. But we think our feminist identity
unites us with some women of the RZ's.
Does that mean that you define yourself as feminists?
Zora 1: Yes, of course, we think the personal is political.
Therefore we believe that all things social, economic, and political
which structure and reinforce the so-called personal are an invitation
for struggle, especially for us women. These are the chains we want
to tear apart. But it is incomplete to make the oppression of women
here in West Germany the only turning of politics and not to see
other oppressive conditions such as class oppression, racism, or
the annihilation of whole peoples through imperialism. This attitude
never understands the base of misery: that the oppression of women
and sexual division of labour are presuppositions which are fundamental
for oppression of any kind - against other races, minorities, the
old and the sick, and especially against those who revolt.
Zora 2: For us, difficulties start when feminist demands
are used to demand "equal rights" and recognition in this
society. We don't want women in men's positions and reject women
who make their career inside the patriarchal structure under the
guise of women's struggles. Such careers remain an individual act
from which only some privileged women can profit. Women are only
allowed to design and manage power in this society if they advocate
the interests of men.
The women's movement was quite strong in the 70's. It achieved
some things in a legal way. For example: the struggle against the
abortion law, publicity about violence against women in the family,
and rape as an act of power and violence, the building of autonomous
counter structures. Why do you then maintain the necessity of armed
Zora 1: Of course, the women's movement achieved a lot and
for me the most important is the development of a broad consciousness
about women's oppression in this society. Also women no longer experience
their oppression as an individual case or think they themselves
are responsible for it, instead women come together and experience
their strength. The things that were organized by the women's movement
like women's bookstores, women's centres, women's newspapers, and
meetings and congresses - all this has been part of the political
reality for some time and is a strong part of the development of
Zora 2: Some successes were rather an expression of the
situation in a society which can allow women some leeway. Of course
when they wanted women in the factories and offices they created
more places in kindergartens, but this didn't lead to a basic change
in the lifestyle of a woman. It requires a continous movement whose
aims cannot be integrated, whose uncompromising section cannot be
forced into legal forms, whose anger and dedication to non-parliamentary
struggles and anti-instituional forms is expressed without limit.
Zora 1: The legal route is not sufficient because the usual
repression and structures of violence are legal. It is legal if
husbands beat and rape their wives. It is legal if women traders
buy our Third World sisters and sell them to German men. It is legal
when women ruin their health and do monotonous work for subsistence
wages. These are all violent conditions which we are no longer willing
to accept and tolerate and which can't be changed solely by criticism.
It was an important step to create a public consciousness about
violence against women, but it didn't lead to its prevention. It
is a phenomenon that the screaming unfairness which women suffer
is met with an incredible proportion of ignorance. It is a tolerance
which exposes male parasitism. This "typical situation"
is connected to the fact that there is not much resistance. Oppression
is only recognized through resistance. Therefore we sabotage, boycott,
damage, and take revenge for experienced violence and humiliation
by attacking those who are responsible.
What do you think about the contemporary women's movement?
Zora 2: We think it's wrong to talk about the women's movement.
On the one hand the women's movement is understood as a result of
long existing structures, of projects, encounter centres, and of
mysticism. There are many currents which do not reinforce each other
very fruitfully, but instead partly exclude or fight each other.
On the other hand new political impulses start from different contexts
where women are becoming aware of their oppression and are radically
questioning patriarchal structures and developing politics in the
interests of women - for example women in Latin American solidarity
groups, in anti-imperialist groups, in the squatters movement. Therefore
the saying "The women's movement is dead, long live the women's
movement!" is accurate. The women's movement is not one issue
like the anti-nuke or squatter movements, which will not survive
if no more nuclear plants are built, or no more property is available
for speculation. The women's movement relates to the totality of
patriarchal structures, their technology, their organiztion of labour,
their relationship to nature, and it is therefore a phenomenon which
won't disappear with the removal of some cancerous growths, but
instead in the long process of social revolution.
Zora 1: The women's movement has never really analyzed its
defeat around the abortion law and around the state financing of
projects like shelters for battered women. It lacks a rejection
of state politics. Also, it anticipated the turning point in family
politics through the wave of the new motherhood in the women's movement.
Also, the class question never existed; social differences were
denied by the universalization of sexist oppression. This makes
it difficult to find an answer to the worsening of labour conditions,
increasing oppression, and reactionary family politics in the present
crisis. The lack of a perspective for action in order to react appropriately
to the attack leads to the dilemma of either going offensively against
reactionary politics or solely preserving the unfolding of leeway
for women. We can't solve this problem in theory, but we don't think
the building of women's committees (in the Green Party) is an appropriate
solution. The experience is that women do not come to power by ways
which exist directly to exclude women and to stabilize and conserve
patriarchal domination. Therefore, we consider women's committees
which want to organize greater influence in parties and institutions
the wrong way.
Zora 2: But in the meantime other important discussions
and analyses by women which consider the future development of society
have begun to develop. The increasing oppression, with the help
of new technologies, is investigated from the point of view of the
lowest echelons of our society, new wages and work structures for
women are analyzed, the indirect structures of women are understood.
Many women understand and reject the everyday war against women
- the wave of hardcore porn and propaganda contempuous of women
- and the call of the society for increased motherhood and more
femininity. They also understand that the setbacks in women's and
family politics are presuppositions for the crisis and the new startegies
of capital. The policy of population control, for example the change
of the abortion law, is the attempt to have a qualitative influence
on the development of the population. Among other things its aim
is to mulitply the "healthy" German middle-class together
with state sponsored genetic technology, which is a development
we have to prevent. Today we need more urgently than ever before
a radical women's movement which has the power to prevent and break
open the social and political encirclement, not only of women, but
also of foreigners and minorities; a women's liberation movement
which does not reduce the hope for revolution to a nice dream.
Do you understand yourself as being part of the women's movement,
or of the guerrilla movement, or both, and how do you see the context?
Zora 1: We are part of the women's movement. We struggle
for women's liberation. Beside theoretical commonalities there also
exists another unity between our practice and the legal women's
movement, that is the personal radicalization which can encourage
other women to resist and take themselves and the struggle seriously.
It is the feeling of strength if you see that you can do things
which before you were afraid of, and if you see that it brings about
something. We would like to share this experience. We don't think
it has to happen in the forms we choose. For example, take the women
who disrupted a peep show by drawing women's symbols and dropping
stink bombs - these actions encourage us, strengthen us, and we
hope women feel the same way about our actions. Our dream is that
everywhere small bands of women will exist, that in every city,
a rapist, a women trader, a battering husband, a misogynist publisher,
a porn trader, a pig gynecologist should have to feel that a band
of women will find them to attack them and make them look foolish
in public. For example, that it will be written on his house who
he is and what he did, on his car, at his job - women's power everywhere!
How can you take responsibility for possibility endangering the
lives of innocent people with your actions?
Zora 2: Why is it that people always assume that those who
deal with explosives don't care about what is self-evident for yourselves,
for the women's movement, or for the left? It's the opposite! Because
of the possibility of endangering life we are forced to be especially
responsible. You know as well as we do that we could give up if
you were right with your question. It would be a paradox to struggle
against a system for which life is only worthwhile as long as it
is utilizable and at the same to become as cynical and brutal as
that system. There were many actions we rejected because we couldn't
eliminate the danger to innocent people. Some firms know this full
well, which is why they prefer to move into residential buildings.
They speculate with our morals if they move into residential dwellings
to protect their property.
What do you say against the argument: armed actions harm the movement.
They are part of the reason for increasing surveillance of the women's
movement to denounce it as terrorist, that it's split and isolated
from the majority of women in the women's movement.
Zora 1: To harm the movement - you talk about the installation
of repression. The actions don't harm the movement! It's the opposite,
they should and can support the movement directly. Our attack on
the women traders, for example, helped to expose their businesses
to public light, to threaten them, and they now know they have to
anticipate the resistance of women if they go on with their business.
These "gentlemen" know they have to anticipate resistance.
We call this a strengthening of our movement.
Zora 2: For a long time the strategy of counter-revolution
has begun to split the radical wing from the rest of the movement
by any means and isolate them to weaken the whole movement. In the
70's we had the experience of what it means when sectors of the
left adopt the propaganda of the state, when they start to present
those who struggle uncompromisingly as responsible for state persecution,
destruction, and repression. They not only confuse cause with effect,
they also justify implicit state terror. Therefore, they weaken
their own position. They narrow the frame of their protest and their
Zora 1: Our experience: to stay uncontrolled and to protect
ourselves against state attacks, a strong unity is necessary. We
can no longer afford to have every group repeat the same mistakes.
There must be structures in which we share knowledge and experiences
which are useful for the movement.
How can non-autonomous, non-radical women understand what you
want? Armed actions do have a "scare away" effect.
Zora 2: Why doesn't it have a "scare away" effect
if a guy sells women, but it does if his car burns? Behind it is
the fact that traditional social violence is accepted whereas similar
reprisals "scare away". Maybe it is scary if everyday
reality is questioned. Women who get it pounded into their heads
from the time they are little girls that they are victims get insecure
if they are confronted with the fact that women are neither victims
nor peaceful. This is a provocation. Those women who experience
their powerlessness with rage can identify with our actions. As
every act of violence against one woman creates an atmosphere of
threat against all women, our actions contribute - even if they
aim only against the individual responsible - to the development
of an atmosphere of "Resistance is possible!"