Hatred isn't just a man's job anymore, it seems.
Women in extremist right-wing groups have long held supportive, often subservient, roles, mostly bearing and rearing children. But in an odd extension of the women's rights and feminist movements that have propelled women into all manner of roles formerly ruled by men, more and more white supremacist women are eager to get out of the kitchen and into the firing line.
Christine Greenwood allegedly is one such woman. She has been charged with two counts of possession of bombmaking materials and "associating, promoting and assisting a criminal street gang."
Greenwood, 28, "is an active white supremacist leader who has spent most of her time with a group known as Women for Aryan Unity," Orange County, Calif., District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said last month when he announced charges had been filed against Greenwood and a man alleged to be the California state leader for Aryan Nations.
Rackauckas described Women for Aryan Unity as a "group for wives of male white supremacists [that] was formed to not only assist and to stand by their men, but to take up their weapons and battle cry if the men should fall."
The trend began a few years ago, but observers say lately it has been growing into a significant force.
"I was seeing the very beginning of that, but it does seem like it is a growing trend," said Kirsten Kaiser, who was married for nine years to Kevin Strom, the co-host of a radio program with William Pierce, the leader of the neo-Nazi National Alliance and author of The Turner Diaries. Kaiser lived on the group's West Virginia compound.
The most prominent woman in the "white rights" movement may be Rachel Pendergraft of the Ku Klux Klan, which is no longer considered to be among the most active white supremacist groups.
‘Baking Cookies, Making Punch’
Women have long played prominent roles in leftist extremist and revolutionary groups, but those on the right have been traditionally led and dominated by men.
That is, at least in part, because many white supremacist groups claim to be followers of a Christian tradition that includes clear division of roles for the sexes. Men are active in the world, while women are homemakers.
Women were recruited to join these groups for the purpose of carrying on the white race, and for many, that is apparently still sufficient.
Web sites for women's organizations in the racist right show women have found a lot to do without getting involved in leadership.
"Children, they are what drives us to better ourselves and our people. It takes a very strong and deeply committed woman to be a part of the cause. She has to be a mother, partner, and warrior all in one," one young woman, Tina Edwards, is quoted as saying on the Stormfront Web site. "She must understand that this is not a game nor is it for the faint of heart … It is about securing the existence of our race and a future for white children."
Outside the home, there are charity groups organizing drives to help poor families with food, clothing, furniture and other items. There are also dating services to help lonely racists find companionship.
‘Violating the Laws of Nature’
But many women are increasingly frustrated with this role, according to some current and former members of white supremacist organizations and scholars who study these groups.