Digital History Seminar: 20th Century Spain

Evelyn Hutchins

Evelyn Hutchins arrived in Spain on April 12th, 1937. She was told many times that Spain was a bad place for Women to be due to the political climate but she was not afraid of that. She felt it was more important to stand up for what she thought was right. In her interview she describes how she understood that with people like Mussolini dictating what women could wear, freedom for women everywhere was in danger. She also makes it clear that she wanted to protect her rights as a woman and not be described like a man. She wanted power as a woman not as some condition attached to masculinity and she was willing to fight for it. She even had to fight her way over to Spain as the North American Committee restricted her from going on account of her gender. Because the truck were so expensive it was imperative that the those who drove them were well practiced. It was because of her skill and hard work she was able to join as a driver herself. Evelyn drove through bombings and gunfire and was still able to do her job even better than most of the Male drivers.
This is a transcription of an interview that Hutchins gave on why she decided to become a truck driver and why as a woman this was a very important fight for her personally. [1]

I always had to shift for myself and take care of myself and make my own decisions, and sometimes it would be tough on me. If that conditions you, I was conditioned. On the other hand I have always been very incensed at a lot of different injustices I have seen, and at the injustices I have seen against women. I have been frustrated so many times because I was not a man. So I probably see things faster than somebody else who doesn’t care. Some girls might not mind not being allowed to go to the army...I was always told by everybody that I must not do this, or I must not do that because girls don’t do those things. I was told so many times that girls are inferior to men, that men can do things and girls can’t, and I couldn’t take it. I didn’t care how hard it was on me.

So far as the political situation in Europe, I am not like some people who think that all this stuff is just propaganda. I remember when Mussolini issued a decree - I was just a kid at the time - he issued a decree that women were not to wear short skirts, and that they were to keep their proper places. Well, Mussolini was definitely out so far as I was concerned. I was convinced that anybody with that kind of an attitude was absolutely no good for the people generally. I never felt that I was an outstanding genius, but people had to give me a chance to think and develop whatever thinkabilities I had. If a person would not give me a chance I would fight them. Hitler has the system where he sends women to camps to be breeders. That strikes me at my very most innermost desire for freedom, and self-expression, and for culture, and education. Just being an ordinary human-being I couldn’t tolerate a thing like that. It has gotten to mean so much to me that I don’t care what I do in the process of fighting against conditions like that.

Evelyn knew that Fascism was a dangerous idea for women. It would take away many of the rights women had been able to gain by that time. Women would be reduced to serving in the houses of their husbands. Even knowing that it was dangerous and that she might not be best equipped to handle war she did everything she could to get to Spain and fight. She knew that if women did not fight that many of the injustices that would continue on. Because of this she and many other women would go to Spain to aide the Republic.

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