Roles of Women in the Mexican Revolution of 1910 Research Paper

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Forgotten Yet Essential Soladaras

In 1910, the Mexican people reached their point of tolerance with the long rule of dictatorship of President Porfino Diaz and declared a revolution. The middle and upper classes were dissatisfied with the power in the hands of a select few, and the working and lower classes no longer could tolerate the poor working conditions, low wages, inferior housing, ever-rising inflation, and lack of social services for themselves and their families. What is not well-known about this revolution, however, is the role that women played in restoring democratic rule and stability to the country. These women, called Soldaderas, or "soldier women," were involved in politics, strong advocates for social and political causes, and participants in the wars' numerous battles. The term "soldadera" stems back to the Spanish Conquest. The Aragon soldiers would give their money to soldadera or a servant, who purchased food and supplies. In 1519, Hernan Cortez was given 20 women slaves to cook and grind corn for maize bread. Malinalli Tenepal, who later would be called La Malinche, can be thought of as a soldadera, because she started out as a simple foot soldier to the level of someone equal to a conquistadora.

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The history of women soldiers in Mexico began in pre-Columbian times. These female soldiers went by a variety of names including soldadas, soldaderas, Amazons, coronelas and Adelitas. Even some of the earliest roles that women performed in wars were similar to those of revolutionaries and males.

Mexico had long been a patriarchal society, with women acting as second-class citizens, spending all their time with their family and church life.

The situation became even more repressive in 1884 when the government passed the Mexican Civil Code; single women were given similar rights as their male peers but had to live with their parents until the age of 30.

Research Paper on Roles of Women in the Mexican Revolution of 1910 Assignment

Married women lost all their rights. They could not file for divorce, vote, engage in lawsuits draw up a contract of any kind, dispose of or administer their personal property, make decisions about their children's education or even tutor anyone except their husband

. In 1904, the Chamber of Deputies passed a bill legalizing divorce, but all other rights were still unavailable.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the Mexican Revolution motivated many women to leave their homes and fight against the discrimination of both their government and the men in power. They had the opportunity to be in control of their own destiny and move out of their oppressive homes and family lives. Many other women, whose husbands were forced to fight against the rebels, did not want to break up their families, so went to war. Others, according to some historians, were forced by their husbands to accompany them to battle. They were either made to be sexual companions or enslaved camp followers. It was said that "Loyalty of the soldier's wife is more akin to that of a dog to its master than to that of an intelligent women to her mate"

. In addition, by 1913, the government started drafting women and forcing them to contribute to the federal army. They worked in the state- owned power mills or acted as chefs. A member of the American Press described the role of Soldaderas: "[Huerta] not content with the wholesale impressments among men to fill the depleted ranks of the federal columns, women by the hundreds [were] seized by Huertas orders and forced to abandon their homes"

There were also some Soldaderas who fought with the rebels, and those who provided health and upport to both sides. They foraged for food, cooked and helped set up the camps. In many cases, they proved themselves much more honorable than the men. A nurse, Beatriz Gonzalez Ortega, was tending the wounded from both sides of a battle. Pancho Villa, as other guerrilla leaders, often executed his prisoners after winning a major battle. Gonzalez burned the uniforms of all the wounded, so no one could tell the difference between the federal and revolutionary troops. She refused to provide any information even when being whipped and threatened with death.

Under the pseudonym of Pedro Herrera, Petra Herrera disguised her gender so she could fight alongside her male peers. She assumed leadership roles and responsibilities and distinguished herself with military leadership of 200 men

. Finally, she revealed her identity, despite the fear of discrimination and immediate dismissal. Instead, she continued to demonstrate her abilities and formed her own brigade of women fighters. Despite her notable skills, Herrera was never promoted to the honorable rank of general. However, she did become a colonel under General Castro.

It was not only the women soldiers who made a name for themselves during this period. Despite not having the same opportunities as men, many women, most who had been teachers, proved their intellectual prowess by becoming politically involved. They frequently were imprisoned and received death threats for their involvement. Three of the most well-known of these women were school teacher Dolores Jimenez y Muro, journalist Juana Belen Gutierrez de

Mendoza and the private secretary of President Carranza, Hermila Galindo de Topete and Rosa Torre Gonzalez.

In March 1924, Rosa Torre Gonzalez proudly wrote of her experiences as a solderada when she was elected representative to the city council of Merida, Yucatan. She thus became the first woman to achieve this councilman's level, when women could not even vote. She had also been one of the first women to rise up against Diaz. In her political positions, Gonzalez worked to gain equal rights and opportunities for women. She put her efforts toward censuring immoral movies, regulating the municipal department of health and hygiene, developing educational and social welfare projects and cooperating with teachers to ensure children's school attendance to organize literacy campaigns and create new children's parks.

Jimenez y Muro wrote articles and poems for a variety of magazines under an alias and was an editorial staff member of the feminist journal La Mujer Mexicana. She was also a leader in the Liga Feminina Anti-reelectionista "Josefa Ortiz de Dominguez" and president of the Hijas de Cuauhtemoc, which were groups that were actively anti-Diaz. The Hijas manifesto called for political support of Mexican women in their "economic, physical, intellectual and moral struggles."

While imprisoned, Jimenez y Muro established Regeneracion y Concordia, which was working to enhance the lives of indigenous races, unify the revolutionary forces, and promote women in their socio-economic standards. She also was the force behind the Political and Social Plan, which contained many reforms such as improved working conditions, higher wages, shorter work weeks, and educational reform. Emiliano Zapata was a strong supporter of Jimenez y Muro's plan, especially since it mandated restitution of usurped village lands. Despite the fact that Jimenez y Muro spent the next 20 years in a role of prominence, she has rarely received any credit for her participation. Unfortunately, she is one of many such women who were never paid their due.

Hermila Galindo was another feminist political leader. She published her own journal, the Mujer Moderna, to add support to feminism and Carranza's government. Because she saw that traditional religion also subjugated women, Galindo even attacked the Catholic Church and advocated for sex education in the schools. Way ahead of the times, she fought for equal rights for all men and women and argued for woman suffrage at the constitutional convention. In later decades, women continued to pursue her cause.

Over the decades, these women's contributions have been mostly ignored in history books, but for good and bad remembered in folk songs, literature, art and film. For example, the song Adelita, which became very popular during the Revolution, has become an important part of Mexican culture. No one knows if a woman named Adelita even was involved with the Revolution, but this name has become an icon for this time period. Numerous muralists and illustrators, such as Diego Rivera, David Alfar Siquiros, Rufino Tamayo and Jose Clement Orozco have depicted soldaderas through their works of art. Similarly, a number of different novelists have written about these women soldiers in their stories. The book the Underdogs, Los de abajo, by Mariano Azuela, depicted both the camp follower and female warrior soldaderas. The former is portrayed as a martyr and the latter as an aggressive, vulgar and evil woman who becomes involved with the war. Based on Azuela's book, it appears that the relationship between women who did and did not participate in the Revolution was not that positive. In part, this could have resulted in the negative views about the solderdas by certain upper class Mexicans.

The photographer Agustin Victor Casasola portrays the soldaderas in both documentary and artistic form. His photos have been printed in numerous history books and textbooks to provide readers with pictorial information on these noteworthy female soldiers and the many. roles they held as mother, wife, cook, lover and warrior. Casasola shot his photographs in order to commemorate the soldaderas. They provided some of the first… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Roles of Women in the Mexican Revolution of 1910.  (2010, May 4).  Retrieved January 26, 2021, from

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"Roles of Women in the Mexican Revolution of 1910."  4 May 2010.  Web.  26 January 2021. <>.

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"Roles of Women in the Mexican Revolution of 1910."  May 4, 2010.  Accessed January 26, 2021.