In chapter 1, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon discusses the development of the YPG. In 2011, the group “formalized” its training process. There are two parts: tactics and ideology. The ideology derives from Abdullah Ocalan. Ocalan helped found the PKK, another political organization, in the late 1970s. Imprisoned for his political actions, Lemmon tells how Ocalan’s writings found a way to reach the outside world. His philosophy influences the YPG and the YPJ. Lemmon details one recruit, Znarin, who joins the YPG because the YPG stresses women’s liberation.
The work of Ocalan focuses on the oppression of women. According to Ocalan, “The 5,000-year-old history of civilization is essentially the history of the enslavement of woman.” For Ocalan, the enslavement of women has produced the enslavement of men. If men wish to be free, women have to be free. Ocalan advocates a return to a matriarchal society where resources are shared, people are protected, and hierarchies are abandoned. This is the type of world that the YPG and the YPJ aim to bring about.
However, the women in the YPG felt that the YPG wasn’t moving quickly enough in some areas. While the YPG told its female members that men and women should work together, they were wary about a women’s force. They thought it was too soon. The women in the YPG took matters into their own hands and started the YPJ, which would be a “separate and equal part of the YPG.” The all-women units are in keeping with Ocalan’s philosophy that women and men are equal and that women can create independent groups to fight for their cause.