Soldaderas of the Mexican Revolution Term Paper

Pages: 18 (5292 words)  ·  Style: Chicago  ·  Bibliography Sources: 12  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Sports - Women

¶ … traditional depiction of Mexican women was very restrictive. The pre-revolutionary view of Mexican women was of a "woman who had lived her life constantly in the male shadow" (Soto, 31-32). Mexican bravado and chauvinism forced the Mexican women into the background of the patriarchal society that has its roots in Spanish government and culture. These women were consumed by their family life, their marriages and the Catholic Church. They lived silently behind the scenes of the dominant male counterparts as if they were only an extension of their individual presence. Legal, social, and cultural constraints were placed upon women to prevent them from gaining full acceptance and rights in society. The concept of gender equality was more foreign in this culture than the rest of central America. However, this trend did not continue indefinitely, as women in today's Mexican society have much more freedoms and rights than in previous generations. An understanding of how the evolution towards greater gender equality occurred requires the examination of cataclysmic events within Mexican history.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Term Paper on Soldaderas of the Mexican Revolution Assignment

It has been more than a decade since the Revolutionaries uprising of 1994 and historical references now make the connection between that event and the Mexican Revolution. However, few historians note the roles of women in both of these conflicts. Women within Mexican society are repeated cast aside, and their contributions are ignored. However, they have an extensive and vital role to play in both of these conflicts. It can be said that neither of these monumental movements would have occurred without the support of Mexican women. Yet, even by the standards of the Revolutionaries movement, women have gained substantially more rights and recognition in this modern populist movement than in previous eras. Their impact on Mexican society and the reinforcement of their presence occurred in the early part of the 20th century. Mexican women began to assert their presence within Mexican mainstream authority and hierarchy as the result of their contributions during the Mexican Revolution. This monumental event became the catalyst that propelled the feminism cause. When the Mexican Revolution of 1910 to 1920 occurred as a response to the discrimination of the Diaz government, women began to find a place for themselves. The need for their presence as supporting figures in the revolutionary effort allowed them to gain momentum for their feminist agenda. The conflict gave them the chance to control their own fate and live more public lives successfully (Soto 31-32). The following analysis will focus on the major roles of Soldaderas during the Mexican Revolution and how their contributions factored in an expansion of their influence and identity creation in Mexican society. The bravery and contributions of the Soldaderas, as they provided essential assistance even in the worst of conditions, created an opportunity to assert their presence and gain greater social freedoms within Mexican society.

Prior to the Mexican revolution, a myriad of barriers existed to restrict the social freedom and rights of women in Mexican society, effectively limiting their independence as well as assert their personal identities. They lived their lives in pre-defined roles and always in the shadows of their husbands and other male figures. There is an ongoing culture of patriarchy and "machismo" in Mexico, and this cultural tradition has dominated the Mexican people for well over three hundred years. Any attempts made by women previous to the Mexican Revolution that was outside the traditional subversive roles of wife and mother were considered both unusual and rebellious. They were met with social stigma and many times ostracism by the mainstream society. The barriers against them were not only social and cultural in nature, explicit legal restrictions existed as well. In 1884, the government passed the Mexican Civil Code, this legal doctrine provided a roadmap of civil rights for the Mexican people. Although a landmark legal document from the perspective of Mexican legal theory, it dramatically restricted women's rights at home and at work (Bush, 351). These codes provided dramatic inequality in the relationship of men and women. Soto explains that the Mexican Civil Code "sustains an almost incredible inequality between the conditions of husband and wife, restricts in an exaggerated and arbitrary manner those rights due the woman, and erases and nullifies her personality" (Bush, 351). The Mexican Civil code was initiated under the regime of Porfirio Diaz, and it represented only a fraction of the many inequalities that women as well as other ethnic, economic and political dissidents and minorities had to endure. Diaz was a fundamental part of the women suppression effort that became an ongoing government policy in the late 1800s. He was a strong chauvinist and believed that women should have an established, and submissive position within Mexican society (Bush, 353-354). His regime enforced mechanisms through legal doctrines and social intimidation to keep "women in their cultural chains." Therefore it could be said that the role of women within the Mexican Revolution was not a passive one, engendered through their natural disposition towards helping the populist cause, but rather a very personal vendetta against Diaz himself. Diaz was the symbol of the old regime, and the traditions of female suppression, therefore the Mexican women, in combating the forces of Diaz were asserting their own individual responses to gender inequality.

Female participation during the Mexican Revolution is mostly noted for the soldaderas, the class of female soldiers who fought along side men. However, the whole panorama of female participation went far above and beyond these soldiers. In the years leading up to the Mexican Revolution, feminist organizations were springing up throughout the urban centers of Mexico. Vocational and educational training of women played an important role in shaping their contributions during the revolution. The role of the women during this particular war was unique in its influence upon their future status, because they took more than a "supportive role" during the conflict. Not only did women take on the roles of nurses and aids to the male soldiers during the conflict, they were active combatants as soldiers. However, their most enduring contribution and the greatest affect on the feminist movement may have been the distinct intellectual perspective they offered on the Revolution. The intellectual activism of many women laid the groundwork for the recognition of greater gender equality following the war, and provided a vocal and political supplement to the actual war efforts made by women in the field. This level of activism influenced the growth of feminism in the 20s and 30s, by instilling value and the ideation of personal presence in young Mexican women. Many women who participated in the Mexican Revolution played a multitude of roles. Although intellectualism played a significant role in the expansion of gender equality and freedom in the war's aftermath, the bulk of women's place within Mexican society were earned by the soldaderas.

The soldaderas was the most typical role that women in the Revolutionary effort played. These soldaderas are separate from the concept of "women soldiers" who actually took a combatative position within the war. The typical role of the soldaderas was still traditional in a Mexican sense, they played the accepted gender-based roles of caregivers. These women played a vital part in the sustenance of the Mexican Revolutionary armies. They generally traveled with the revolutionary armies to forage for food, cook meals, nurse the wounded, wash clothes, and other services that were not provided by the military itself (Soto, 44). Although some of these women occasionally fought in battle, they generally are not considered part of the "women soldier" class. Andres Fuentes makes a clear distinction between these two categories of women. He argues that those women who served as a vital support system for combatants were distinct from those who actually participated from the fighting (Resendez, 527). The women who served as the vital providers and caretakers of the Mexican Revolutionary armies joined the cause for a myriad of different reasons. Many of them joined the fighting because of their husband's involvement. They took on the role of caregiver and provider for their husbands. When a Soldadera's husband died in battle they often continued in their roles for another soldier (Macias, 72). Other younger women joined the cause as idealists and cared for everyone. There were less noble reasons for many soldaderas who ultimately joined the army movements. Some of the women had no choice but to become soldaderas when soldiers raped and kidnapped them from their homes and villages. In one 1913 edition of the Mexican Herald, a report states that entire villages were left without women because soldiers had carried them off (Salas, 59). Other women joined the cause because they wanted the possibility of altering their social status. Many women hoped that they would be paid for their domestic and military services, and many women who volunteered were given a salary if they were not the wives or related to the accompanied soldiers. In general however, the soldaderas remained anonymous, they lacked any real decision making power within the movement of the army, and were… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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