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Las Soldaderas
By: Clarissa Diniz & Nicole Letti
THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION

The role of women in the Mexican Revolution can be seen throughout the developments of the upspring in two major roles: Las Soldaderas and the intellectuals. Before the revolution, women were seen behind the shadows of their husbands, they were “consumed by family life, marriage, and the Catholic Church”.[1] However, their significant contribution to their country was made in an attempt not only to change their land’s future, but also to fight for their own rights.[2] This willingness to help became acknowledged by many men, including the revolutionary leaders, therefore bestowing these women a title of respect. Moreover, even though their main reason for fighting was not accomplished (Article 34 and 35 did not pass)[3], their political agitation as well as their presence in the battle fields were essential.

Las Soldaderas[4] or soldier women were those that not only fought in the front lines but also worked by being nurses, cooks, washers, and by performing all the jobs that the militia was unable to accomplish by themselves. Some of these women took the position of their deceased husbands in order to replace their military roles. They even joined their forces into the peasant armies that composed themselves of “the widows, wives, daughters and sisters of rebels”[5]. In order to preserve their women like characteristics they wore “plundered finery, wearing silk stockings and dresses, sandals and straw hats”[6], but their gun belts were never forgotten. Their fearful combat “terrorized federales and haciendados in the region that even veterans Zapatista commanders”[7] treated them with respect. They should the same courage as their male counterparts[8] and were as important in the winning of the battle. Their other roles such as smuggling goods from the United States as well as carrying the harmed soldiers back to bases[9] illustrate how these women were inevitably the ones who played the major role in the revolution.

Opposite form the Las Soldaderas, the Intellectuals were mainly composed of a higher economic level. Already imposed by their actual name, the group was composed of teachers and educated women. As the previous group, they also created a feminist organization which, together, supported the “apostle of democracy”[10]. The focus of this liberal group was mainly political, and their aim was to "improve the lot of indigenous races, campesinos, obreros, unify revolutionary forces, and elevate women economically, morally and intellectually"[11]. What they wanted the most was a space in the political area and their open-minded ideas to be spread throughout Mexico. Although not considered ‘peaceful’, the Intellectuals had a different tactic from Las Soldaderas: they believed that with the use of the mind they would obtain better results than simply fighting. Still, they also underwent through difficult situations while they executed their plans; this included going to jail and many serious threats. Together, both of these groups helped to shape the Mexican Revolution as well as to open the minds of the Mexican man towards the rights that the Mexican women should obtain.

 
Examples of those that should never be forgotten:

Hermila Galindo “Her tactics were later used by feminists in the 1920's and 30's such as her running for a seat in the Chamber of Deputies”

Dolores Jimenez y Muro “A part of the group that formed the ideas for a "Plan"”

María Sandoval de Zarco“founded the feminist magazine La Mujer Mexicana

Petra Herrera “took on leadership roles and responsibilities in combat that distinguished her amongst her peers”

Beatriz González Ortega“Her ability to look beyond the uniform of a soldier and appreciation for humanity was inspiring”

Angela ‘Angel’ Jiménez“Beyond her physical efforts and contribution to the war, Jiménez also served as a spokeswoman for the soldaderas, defending their role in the Mexican Revolution.”
 

More Resources:

The book Fearless Women in the Mexican Revolution and the Spanish Civil War written by Tabea Alexa Linhard which has a very detailed analysis of the women’s role in the Mexican Revolution.

http://books.google.com.br/books?id=BSfshTUaRgEC&pg=PA43&lpg=PA43&dq=Mexican+revolution+-+right+to+vote&source=bl&ots=kHYfy-x-VW&sig=1XrWnzHSKPI4w9Sl1Dawx9M1E7c&hl=pt-BR&ei=WKHoStjJGMLNlAe4kNGHCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CBgQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=Mexican%20revolution%20-%20right%20to%20vote&f=false

The book Soldaderas in the Mexican Military: Myth and History written by Elizabeth Salas which has a goal “link all Mexican women, regardless of era, class, or nom de guerre under a fundamental historical truth, that soldiering has over many centuries been a traditional and commonplace life experience for thousands of Mexican women”.

http://books.google.com.br/books?id=enTYhWN_CgkC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Mexican+revolution+-+right+to+vote&source=gbs_similarbooks_s&cad=1#v=onepage&q=&f=false

                  

Petra Herrera
Petra Herrera
Dolores Jimenez y Muro considered to be heroines in contemporary Mexico.
Dolores Jimenez y Muro considered to be heroines in contemporary Mexico.