Velvet gloves to iron fists: how complicit are the wives of dictators?

Article here. Predictably, the question is framed in terms of "patriarchy", etc., and it seems the woman's moral agency is minimized, which happens whenever a writer wants to let her off the hook. Still, it's good the topic is now being addressed. Excerpt:

'Popa is the anti-heroine of The Dictator’s Wife, a debut novel by a young British Indian writer, Freya Berry, that explores how tyrants deploy glamorous spouses to soften their image: velvet gloves to their iron fists.

The book poses an important question: to what extent should such women be judged as complicit in their husbands’ regimes? They are often survivors of brutal patriarchy and lack genuine political power. But do they, too, have blood on their hands?

When we encounter Popa in the novel, she has endured the murder of her husband Constantin, a keen student of Hitler’s charisma who enriched himself at the expense of impoverished Yanussia, a fictional eastern European country. Now the former actor and businesswoman is defiant as she faces a possible conviction and death sentence. The story is narrated by Laura Lăzărescu, a young London lawyer working on the case and starstruck by this enigmatic “black widow”.'

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