In recent years gender has emerged as a subject of historical inquiry. It is a complex term, one not susceptible to a single, facile definition. In a pathbreaking article, Joan Scott offered a multifaceted explanation of gender. In the first part of her definition, she viewed it as “a constitutive element of social relationships based on perceived differences between the sexes.” This element, in turn, rests on four others: “symbolic representations” of these differences; “normative concepts” interpreting these symbols; institutions that help determine the social relations between men and women; and the ways in which people subjectively create their own identities. Scott tied this first part of her explanation to another that is “interrelated but must be analytically distinct”—that gender also is “a primary way of signifying relationships of power.” She perceptively noted that “this part of the definition might seem to belong in the normative section of the argument, yet it does not, for concepts of power, though they may build on gender, are not always literally about gender itself.”1 Seen in this light, gendered rhetoric and policies can symbolize and express important facets of the desired political and social order. Scott’s linkage of these two propositions, as she called them, suggests that one cannot analyze either in isolation from the other.

The second part of Scott’s explanation also suggests that one cannot separate politics from gender. Throughout history, people in all social ranks have comprehended, interpreted, and justified authority relations in society by referring to what is close to them and readily understandable, namely authority relations in the home. As Scott pointed out, those who have lauded a hierarchical order have often seen the “well-ordered family” as the microcosm of the “well-ordered state.” In this regard, one might cite the bourgeoisie in nineteenth-century Europe and the United States, which viewed the nature and roles of the sexes as unchanging. Its rigid definitions of manhood and womanhood, along with its narrow code of proper sexual practices, helped to reinforce and justify the division of labor along gender and class lines in capitalist industrial society and the bourgeois values of frugality, discipline, and hard work. This is but one example of the deeply imbedded tendency to express relationships of power in gendered terms.2

Power relations and gender relations are, then, intertwined. This implies that those who would attempt to overthrow the social hierarchy would also need to break its symbolic ties with the hierarchy within the family and redefine gender in a more democratic fashion. If, instead, leaders and the masses continue to define sex roles in traditional terms and use this framework as a paradigm for the state and society, they may undermine the entire process of political and social change.

Inspired by the ideals of socioeconomic equality, mass democracy, and self-determination, progressive governments and movements in twentieth-century Latin America have sought to transform their respective societies. Their egalitarian goal has often included a desire to change inherited gender roles and family structure.3 Presumably, the degree to which they have revised sex roles and the gendered imagery they have used to express and justify their political actions should help reveal the nature of their reform programs. If for various reasons they have decided to restrain the process of change they initiated or encouraged, they may have used the imagery of gender to express and justify these limits. One might also expect their opponents to have criticized the reforms in terms of traditional gender notions.

My original aim was to write a historiographical essay assessing the secondary literature on gender in the context of political and social change. As my case studies, I chose revolutionary Mexico (1910-24), the first Peronist administration in Argentina (1946-55), Cuba under Fidel Castro (1959-), and the Unidad Popular period in Chile (1970-73).4 Since the existing works did not adequately cover the issues, I decided to add consideration of printed primary sources, suggest some tentative hypotheses, and point out areas for future research. Thus what follows is a combination of literature review and substantive article.

This essay covers the two parts of Scott’s definition and the subtle ties between them. I explore the meaning of the first part, or, as Scott puts it, “how politics constructs gender,” by studying symbols, rhetoric, and programs relating to the definition of male and female roles. The Cuban and Chilean governments professed to welcome important changes in the status of men and women, whereas the Mexican and Argentine envisioned more limited changes. Considering the second part of the definition, “how gender constructs politics,” these distinctions are not surprising, for the desired gender roles symbolized the desired social and political relations as a whole.5 Deeper analysis of the second part, however, shows that the statements and actions of protagonists in all four cases had implicit meanings that at times contradicted the explicit messages. Their manipulation of gendered concepts for political ends leads one to question the revolutionary character of the governments under study.


La historia primitiva de la mujer es contraria al estado social y político que actualmente guarda.

—Salvador Alvarado, 1915

In its epic phase (1910-20) and the first years that followed, the Mexican Revolution contained many tendencies at war with each other. Even members of the same factions, such as President Venustiano Carranza’s (1917-20) allies, often disagreed on vital issues. The gender notions of leading revolutionaries also exhibited these differences. Yet Governor Salvador Alvarado of Yucatán (1915-18) and other spokespersons agreed that the revolution would have far-reaching effects on gender roles. They recognized that a revolution that undermined the social hierarchy would inevitably influence the relations between men and women.6 Nevertheless, the gender-related rhetoric and programs often belied the equality that Mexican revolutionaries ostensibly sought.

Before the revolution, most Mexican women carried out their tasks within the home or the family economic unit. Only 8.82 percent in 1910 belonged to the work force, a figure that ignores the labor of rural women in the fields alongside their husbands and children. The duties of middle- and upper-class women, a tiny minority of the female population, had become sharply differentiated from those of men: these women found themselves enshrined within the domestic sphere, their tasks limited to the home, the family, education, and religious endeavors. Partly for this reason, many Mexicans viewed women as the church’s natural allies in the latter’s conflict with the state. Nevertheless, liberal and other progressive movements had attracted some female supporters.7

Women actively participated in the revolution from its beginnings. They protested against the Porfirio Díaz government (1876-1911) through strike action, writings in the opposition press, and membership in the anarcho-syndicalist Partido Liberal Mexicano (PLM). Once the actual conflict began in 1910, women served as organizers, nurses, fundraisers, spies, journalists, and even fighters. The best-remembered female activists, however, are the soldaderas, who provided sustenance, medical care, and emotional support for men at the front. In reality, as Elizabeth Salas pointed out, the distinction between the soldaderas and female soldiers was not always clear-cut. The revolution also prompted the beginnings of a feminist movement, particularly in Yucatán, where it received official backing.8

Male revolutionaries of various ideological persuasions interpreted female activism in terms of women’s customary duties in the church and the home. Even before the armed stage of the revolution, Práxedis Guerrero, a contributor to PLM newspapers, used religious imagery to describe female roles in the emerging conflict: “la justicia elige por sacerdotisas a las heroinas que adoran el martirio.” He viewed their cause as a pure, redemptive struggle requiring “la pasión ardorosa, activa y abnegada que lleva a los apóstoles al sacrificio.” Given the PLM’s hatred of the church, this terminology seems paradoxical. Revolutionaries may have been appealing to female piety, exhorting the masses in terms the latter could comprehend, trying to create new secular saints, or legitimizing their anticlericalism. Or perhaps they could not free themselves of old ways of viewing women or their own struggle. Guerrero praised female militants as delicate, pure, beautiful, conscious, and self-sacrificing, yet also willful, strong, and, significantly, “virile” (viril). Despite the last three “masculine” qualities, the women’s task remained to inspire and aid their male comrades, lovers, and relatives, a view that PLM leader Ricardo Flores Magón echoed; thus, women themselves could not be the subjects of revolution. In similar religious terms, men justified the revolutionary and feminist militancy of Elvia Carrillo Puerto, sister of Felipe, the governor of Yucatán (1922-24), by calling her “la Monja Roja.” The writers of corridos converted the nameless legions of courageous, tough female combatants and soldaderas into submissive, feminine, romantic figures like “La Adelita.” Men characterized some well-known female soldiers and other women they could not fit into customary roles as nonfeminine, manly, and exceptional.9

This interpretation of women’s activism resembled the traditional conception of the ideal female personality, or Marianism, the cult of motherly devotion and self-sacrifice. When discussing the role of the state in protecting women’s rights under marriage, legislators during the Carranza presidency noted that “la mujer, y muy especialmente la mujer mexicana, es toda abnegación y ternura.” According to Alvarado women were naturally loving, sweet, and instinctive but at the same time astute and tireless in giving of themselves to their families. These spokesmen, as well as the PLM writers, stressed female self-denial, which stood for more than just a desirable trait in women. In terms of how gender constructs politics, it represented the noble suffering of the Mexican people (“el pueblo sufrido”) and the attitude that revolutionary leaders wanted the masses to uphold.10 While they recommended abnegation, they did not advocate downright passivity, which also figured among the Marian virtues yet would not serve the purpose of a nation in arms.

The Virgin of Guadalupe, whose banner accompanied Emiliano Zapata’s army in combat, embodied these Marian qualities and others as well. With her indigenous identity and pre-Columbian associations, the Virgin had emerged as a protector of disinherited groups, a remembrance of times in which native Mexicans ruled themselves, and a symbol of hope and rebellion against the authoritarian Spanish “fathers” and their legacy during independence. As such, she stood for the revolution itself, and the egalitarian Zapatistas appropriated her mantle. In their effort to control the revolution, Carraneistas attempted to steal her image from the rival Zapatistas. Mexicans on all sides of the revolution revered the Virgin, indicating that she may have represented diverse values; clearly, this symbolism requires careful study.11 Whatever its meaning, the usage of the Virgin did not prompt a radical alteration in the view of womanhood, despite the potential opposition to patriarchy that some authors claim she manifested.

Indeed, the revolution’s effect on the conception of manhood may have threatened women’s status. Ilene Virginia O’Malley suggested that the oppressive prerevolutionary order had emasculated lower-class Mexican men by denying them equality and the ability to both support their families economically and protect their womenfolk from sexual abuse by upper-class men. One might also ask whether priests, with their perceived influence over female parishioners, seemed to limit secular male control over women. By attacking the church and the socioeconomic hierarchy, revolutionaries may have reclaimed their manhood. This hypothesis requires research on such unexplored topics as the gendered connotations of anticlericalism and of male motives for activism. Yet it might help explain Américo Paredes’s assertion that exaggerated notions of unfettered machismo did not appear in Mexican folklore until the revolution. At any rate, this association between social change and manliness implied that the equality of men would entail female subordination. It also seemed to deny women the ability to become genuine revolutionaries.12

If, in terms of Scott’s first proposition, revolutionaries emphasized aggression and virility in their construction of the male personality, they also included other values. Rarely stated explicitly in speeches or writings, the male ideal was depicted in corridos of these years, which extolled various revolutionary figures as fearless, upright, loyal, incorruptible, and constant. The corridos also praised men for the “Marian” virtues of generosity, selflessness, and martyrdom. Whether found in men or women, these quasi-religious traits served the cause. Whereas men had frowned on female autonomy, however, the corridos viewed male autonomy ambivalently, reflecting divergent popular attitudes on the subject. On one hand, they revered Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa for struggling independently for the oppressed Indians and against the United States, respectively. On the other hand, they also lauded Presidents Francisco Madero (1911-13) and Carranza as “fathers” of the nation who “gave” voting and other rights to men previously stripped of these freedoms by cruel tyrants. The songs implied that Mexicans were children who passively accepted these gifts—and quite properly so. Carranza and his successors used this children-father paradigm, as well as descriptions of Madero (and, after 1920, of Zapata) as a saintly hero, to justify paternalistic rule.13 Such sentiments heralded the growing authoritarianism of the revolution.

The prevailing ideas of women’s liberation paralleled the narrow view of the revolution as one that had awarded men freedom from above. Scholars regard the PLM as the most radical current in the revolution, and its prescriptions for women seemed radical on the surface. Guerrero and Flores Magón advocated the emancipation of women from the shackles of capitalism, which had thrust women out of the home into degrading, poorly remunerated labor; of the church, which had tamed women into accepting their lot; and of laws and customs, which had enshrined women in their lowly position. While it hoped to free women from economic, legal, clerical, and sexual subjugation, however, the PLM, like anarchists elsewhere, wanted women to return to their rightful domesticity. Guerrero opposed feminism, which he defined as turning women into men. Some Carrancistas viewed feminism more favorably than the PLM. Among them the most outspoken advocate of women’s concerns was Carranza’s secretary, Hermila Galindo, who defined female emancipation in broad terms. She believed that women should possess exactly the same rights as men, including the vote, and should be free to assume roles outside the home. Galindo also emphasized the freeing of women from priestly control, or “defanaticizing” them. Male revolutionaries within and outside Carrancista ranks seemed to equate this with liberation, although their motives may have been to reduce what they saw as female opposition to the revolution or to replace clerical dominance over women with their own, rather than to release women from religious strictures.14

The Carrancista governor of Yucatán, Salvador Alvarado, also favored female emancipation, which he described as “levantar y dignificar la condición de la mujer, haciéndola fuerte para luchar con la vida y dando vigor a sus alas, entumecidas por la tradición y el convencionalismo.” He implemented this goal through the broadening of educational opportunities for women, the convocation of two feminist congresses, revision of the civil code, laws protecting female labor, and the banning of brothels—thus ostensibly freeing prostitutes from exploitation by madams, pimps, and others. Yet while Alvarado believed that women performed useful functions outside the household, it was there, he thought, that they fulfilled their highest calling and developed their true talents. Thus it was preferable that women devote themselves to marriage and family. Emancipation meant enabling them to become better, more respected wives and mothers who could support themselves honorably in case of dire need. And the most important talent for them to use in the home was that of shaping men’s character.15

Not only tradition prompted such views. The revolutionary cataclysm had sanctioned bloodshed, crime, rape, and other aggressive behavior, and it had also destroyed old habits of deference and obedience. Disorder impeded consolidating the state and implementing reform. To Alvarado, reform meant installing bourgeois capitalism through such measures as the division of land into small, efficient private holdings. The governor wanted to tame disorderly male conduct and curb workers’ autonomy in order to contain the revolution and guide it in a capitalist direction. One may interpret his attempts to outlaw bordellos, pimps, cockfighting, gambling, and the consumption of hard liquor and drugs—and similar actions by Plutarco Elías Calles as governor of Sonora (1917-19) and as president (1924-28)—as efforts to impose austere, disciplined values conducive to capitalist development, rather than as mere prudery. Yet state action did not suffice to control men, and the anticlerical revolutionaries did not want the church’s assistance. Therefore, Alvarado and other leaders stressed women’s moralizing roles in the home as a means of delegating the vital task of pacifying unruly male behavior and stabilizing the revolution. They viewed the traditional family as an essential bulwark of the capitalist order they wished to construct.16 It seems that, to them, the united, orderly family was a paradigm for the united, orderly state.

Thinking of the need to train women for their domesticating mission and to limit the oppression of female workers, Alvarado insisted that “mientras no elevemos a la mujer, nos será imposible hacer patria.” His words, as well as some of his policies, revealed a strong sense of paternalism. Alvarado’s attempt to control the First Feminist Congress of 1916 by formulating its agenda further illustrates this point. His treatment of women was characteristic of his revolution in Yucatán, one that he directed from above, and this was the pattern that other leaders tried to implant throughout Mexico.17 Again, according to Scott’s second proposition, control of women expressed and symbolized control of the political system.

Alvarado’s successor, Felipe Carrillo Puerto, was an exception to this type of paternalistic rule. His plans to collectivize agriculture and efforts to mobilize the masses for change through the Ligas de Resistencia manifested his desire to radically redistribute wealth and power. Carrillo’s support for birth control programs, marriage reform (secular marriage regulated as little as possible by the state), sex education, coeducational schools, and the election of women to office demonstrated that his policies for women and the family were equally radical. His views on prostitution and organizing women contrasted sharply with those of his predecessor. Instead of simply outlawing brothels and otherwise controlling prostitutes, as Alvarado had done, he sought to open up alternative employment opportunities for women. Unlike Alvarado, who showed little interest in mobilizing female workers or campesinas, Elvia and Felipe Carrillo encouraged lower-class women to organize Ligas Feministas, whose membership reached fifty-five thousand by 1923. Despite Carrillo’s egalitarianism, his divorce law still reflected the traditional double standard by treating male adultery more leniently than female, and by permitting divorced men to remarry sooner than divorced women.18

Apart from his divorce legislation, Carrillo’s progressivism did not fit with the revolution’s tendency toward consolidating a capitalist order. The views of his ally, Carranza, did. The Constitutionalist leader supported the First Feminist Congress in Yucatán and some of Galindo’s feminist ideas. Many feminists were pleased with Carranza’s decree of 1914 legalizing divorce and the subsequent divorce provisions of the Constitution of 1917, although these measures, like Carrillo’s, retained the sexual double standard. In contrast to Carrillo’s libertarianism, Carranza regarded marriage as a civil contract, a matter that fell under state jurisdiction. To complement the divorce laws and promote equality within the family, the Law of Family Relations (1917) gave such additional rights to married women as authority over the children (patria potestad) and control over marital property equal to that of men. However, it still prevented wives from pursuing a career without their husbands’ agreement and single women from leaving their parents’ home without permission until age thirty, except to marry. Carranza wanted these regulations “to establish the family on a more rational and equitable basis, to make the consorts aware of the great responsibility that society had entrusted to them”—that of raising a family. He wished to rationalize society by throwing off the weight of tradition that had impeded capitalist progress. Like Alvarado’s, his family policies reinforced and epitomized his broader social and economic aims. One of Carranza’s justifications for divorce legislation, namely, decreasing the incidence of consensual unions and illegitimate births among the poor, further indicated the bourgeois implications of his programs.19

Paradoxically, the post-1920 national regime also used disorder, or at least symbols of disorder, to strengthen its control over the populace. Like Carranza, Presidents Álvaro Obregón (1920-24) and Calles favored capitalist development and an authoritarian state, but they continued to employ revolutionary rhetoric to justify their power and obscure the gap between the revolution’s stated goals and actual achievements. In doing so, they and their followers drew upon themes already present in popular songs and literature, particularly the legends that had grown around revolutionary figures and the association between the revolution and manliness. O’Malley has argued that the ruling elite encouraged the disaffected to identify with such rebellious heroes as Zapata and Villa. Propagandists stripped their defiance of political and class overtones, leaving only “masculinity.” This masculinity encompassed not only the traits previously mentioned in corridos, but also exaggerated prowess with women and, in the case of Villa, wild behavior. Thus, according to O’Malley, governments attempted to channel popular feelings of dissatisfaction and political impotence into identification with tough, virile figures. Linda B. Hall, however, disagreed with O’Malley’s emphasis on the conservative and manipulative implications of the mythification process, noting that the hero cults predated 1920.20 John Rutherford’s observation that Villa’s mythic reputation grew in spite of, not because of, the efforts of official propagandists, who painted him as a villain since he had fought on the losing side, tends to support Hall’s contention.21 Revolutionary mythology and its functions are another field that calls for more research.

This survey of the early years of the revolution demonstrates how politics constructed gender and gender constructed politics. Leaders devised gender-related programs that suited their perceived political ends. The gendered rhetoric and policies of Mexican revolutionaries also served as a paradigm for the preferred political and social order. The Carrillos’ innovative views on gender relations were a model for the democratic socialism they envisioned. The emphasis that Alvarado and Carranza placed on control and order in their gender and familial notions symbolized the hierarchical political and economic order that prevailed in Mexico by the 1920s.

Considering the first part of Scott’s definition, the view of male and female natures constructed by revolutionary spokespersons—of women as the tamers of men, and of men as inherently unruly and rebellious—seemed to become frozen in time. Although the identification of women with order gave them a task to perform for the revolution, it also equated womanhood with conservatism—and therefore, ironically, with threats to the revolution. This notion, which was also tied to the assumption of female adherence to the church, was responsible for denying Mexican women the vote at the federal level until 1955. While many examples of Cristeras and conservative women existed, notable female revolutionaries also appeared from the epic period on, some of them situated to the left of the state. However contradictory to reality, the idea that men and women had immutable personalities persisted. In terms of Scott’s second proposition, it mirrored the apparent immutability of the social order in the 1920s—the betrayal of the masses’ dreams.22


Yo me siento nada más que la humilde representante de todas las mujeres del pueblo.

Me siento, como ellas, al frente de un hogar …: el gran hogar venturoso de esta Patria mía que conduce Perón hacia sus más altos destinos.

¡Gracias a él, el “hogar” que al principio fue pobre y desmantelado, es ahora justo, libre y soberano!

¡Todo lo hizo él!23

In the speeches, writings, and programs of Juan and Eva Perón, complex gendered rhetoric and appeals abounded. In terms of Scott’s first proposition, many of their policies had gender implications, which in turn reflected perceived political exigencies. In terms of the second, these policies, as well as their marriage, also served as models for the couple’s broader aims. Eva portrayed herself in the passage cited above as a leader who was nevertheless subordinate to her husband, and the Argentine “family” as a free people who nevertheless owed everything to their benevolent father, Juan. The ambiguity of Eva Perón—as well as that of Juan Perón, and of their relationship to each other—symbolized the ambiguity of Peronism: a movement that combined democratic and authoritarian elements, praised both workers’ militancy and class harmony, attracted a multiclass constituency, and appeared to synthesize leftist and rightist traits.

In contrast to some Mexican leaders, the Peróns were keen to attract women to their cause. One possible reason for this difference was the greater degree of female participation in the Argentine economy vis-à-vis that of early twentieth-century Mexico. According to the 1947 census, women constituted 22.6 percent of the Argentine labor force. While this figure represented a decline from earlier years, the census also demonstrated a shift in female employment away from small family-centered enterprises toward factories, offices, shops, and schools. At the same time, women were narrowing the gap in the literacy rate between them and men, thus improving their prospects for mobility. Evidence also indicated that women were increasingly choosing to have fewer children. According to Susana Bianchi, the public’s awareness of women’s new roles made it more receptive to the idea of female suffrage, albeit apprehensive about the possible impact of these changes on the family.24

The issue of the vote had been on the political agenda for decades. The Socialist party sponsored the first female suffrage bill in 1928. In contrast to the Mexican case, where feminism began with the revolution, Argentine feminists were active long before the Peronist administration and lobbied actively for the vote in the 1930s and 1940s. Women formed a potential voting constituency, one that the Peróns wished to tap. Despite their interest in mobilizing female support (an interest, like mobilizing workers’ support, that set them apart from preceding leaders), Juan and Eva were anxious to distinguish their movement from feminism. Peronists tagged feminists as antinationalists, oligarchs, and representatives of imported views. Closer to the point, most feminists were affiliated with the Socialist party and other groups that opposed Peronism—groups, moreover, that had not managed to identify themselves with nationalism. The Peróns wanted to distinguish their female adherents not only from their political rivals, but from a stance that traditionalist supporters might perceive as radical. Eva assured them that she and other female Peronists had retained their femininity and did not hate men, supposedly unlike feminists.25 Much of Eva’s gendered rhetoric served to justify her leadership and the roles of Peronist women in nonthreatening terms.

In many ways, Peronists encouraged female activism. Women formed a prosuffrage group under Perón’s auspices before his election and participated in his campaign. After his victory they, like their male counterparts, formed local Peronist cells. A Peronist-dominated Congress passed a female suffrage law in 1947 and other measures favorable to women. The creation of the Partido Peronista Femenino (PPF) in 1949 as one of the three branches of the Peronist movement, autonomous from and coequal with those of men and the union confederation, at least in theory, marked a significant advance beyond the subordinate feminine sectors of other political parties in Latin America. Party membership reached an impressive half million by 1952, including mostly working-class women previously uninvolved in politics. Operating within an exclusively female organization gave politically inexperienced women the opportunity to develop skills, self-confidence, and an awareness of their own needs. It also introduced many women to activities outside the home in a way that did not estrange them from their husbands. Although the male branch, backed by Perón, refused to give her as many slots as she requested, Eva imposed six female candidates for senator and twenty-three for deputy on the Peronist ticket in 1951. All won their seats, giving Argentina the highest number of elected female representatives in the hemisphere.26

Yet several factors detracted from this picture of female mobilization. Although Eva tried to do so, the Peróns could not rightfully claim exclusive credit for female suffrage; its time had come, thanks to women’s advances in employment and education and to the efforts of anti-Peronist feminists. One could also argue that working within an all-female group marginalized Peronist women, although the foundation of feminine sections within the Socialist and other parties had formed a precedent for Peronists to follow. Nor did the creation of the PPF necessarily increase female independence. The various preexisting groups of Peronist women, which had enjoyed some autonomy, dissolved with the founding of the PPF. Eva ruled the latter, setting its agenda and picking as its leaders and congresswomen women lacking political credentials who would follow her orders. The male branch of the party was more democratic than the female, which, unlike the former, did not hold internal elections or congresses during Eva’s lifetime and was not formally constituted, with officers, until two years after its birth. Thus, while Marysa Navarro noted that Eva imitated her husband’s control over male Peronists, it seems that she outdid him.27 Exemplifying Scott’s second proposition, the hierarchy within the PPF symbolized the larger Peronist pattern of mobilizing the masses while maintaining dominance over them.28

The Peróns defined women’s roles in a traditional manner, albeit with a political twist. They referred approvingly to women who worked outside the home and implemented programs in their behalf, such as day care and the principle of equal pay for equal work, although such measures were not a priority. Nevertheless, school textbooks during the Peronist years depicted most women as housewives and mothers, in contrast to men as jobholders. Juan and Eva justified their social welfare policies by noting that these would enable working-class women to fulfill their true calling by staying home. Eva segregated PPF women from men so that the former would remain within their own sphere and not assume “masculine traits. Following a precedent set by conservative female activists in the early twentieth century, she characterized their duties not as “political action, which was reserved for men, but as “social action,” permissible for women. By eliminating ambiguity from women’s roles, she reduced the possibility for change in gender relations. While she believed that Perón had “liberated” women, this word had a narrow meaning for her. Thanks to the improved economic status of workers and to female suffrage, under Peronism women were free to organize, propagandize, and assist other women and children, so as to “Peronize” families. Eva also charged them with the duty of organizing consumption within the household, which assumed importance with the economic stabilization plan of 1951.29 For Eva just as for some Mexican revolutionaries, female emancipation meant incorporating women into the cause, although she was more optimistic about female willingness to participate than the Mexicans.

Eva Perón assigned great significance to these tasks. Julia Jolly observed that she saw the household as a “liberation front”; the transformation or Peronization of the home would serve as the basis for the larger social transformation. Significantly, Eva did not assign female workers a role in sponsoring change in the workplace. Their role was to inculcate Peronist doctrine, fulfill Peronist economic aims, raise Peronist children, and assist in the perpetuation of Peronist control. As Eva put it, “Perón necesita del baluarte inviolado del hogar y del impulso intuitivo y sustancialmente conservador de la mujer, para llevar adelante y afianzar su programa de acción de gobierno.” Bianchi also noted the importance Peronists placed on women conserving the traditional values of religion and morality within the family setting. The First Five Year Plan of 1946 reinforced the “unviolated” nature of the home by supporting natalist measures and opposing divorce and abortion. Occasionally, Eva seemed to call for changes within the family by denouncing dictatorial husbands and advocating wages for housewives, but her words found no concrete expression in legislation.30 On the whole, then, in terms of the first part of Scott’s definition, the Peróns favored few alterations in the family and gender system beyond recruiting women into politics under their tutelage.

Julia Silvia Guivant thought that Peronism promoted a new female role that transcended the old boundaries of the domestic arena. But Eva Perón and the PPF had a precursor: the female adherents of the antileftist Liga Patriótica Argentina in the 1920s and 1930s, who had styled their efforts to coopt working-class women as “Argentinizing” the immigrant home. Eva differed from Liguistas, however, in that she extended the boundaries of the private sphere to include the public sphere. She did not compare the movement and the nation to the family; in her words, they were the family—“la gran familia peronista” and “la familia nacional,” respectively. Eva saw herself as the mother and sister of the militants in this family and Juan as their father, thus also justifying her political role. This equation of private and public demonstrated, as Guivant pointed out, that Peronism intruded in people’s personal lives more than many authors have thought.31 It also indicated that Eva made no distinction between her relationship with her husband, the private, and with the Peronist state, the public.

In this sense and others, Eva set the model for female Peronists to follow. Just as Eva subordinated herself to Juan, women were to subordinate themselves to their husbands, the Leader, and the movement. Thus, both through her example and her explicit admonitions to women, she assured men of their continued preeminence in the home and in society. In the Peronist family, women, like Eva, were to defend and be faithful to Juan. They were supposed to imitate Eva’s Marian image of beauty, purity, maternal love, humility, charity, and self-sacrifice, the latter symbolized in her renunciation of the vice-presidency. One must note that Eva also praised women who possessed resolve, dynamism, a sense of responsibility, fanaticism for the movement, and intuition, yet also, inconsistently, rational judgment. These qualities were not among the Marian virtues, but all save the last fit the traditional view of women as nonthinking, feeling, and willful beings. Perhaps here Eva responded to the contradictions in her own public persona; the “madona de los humildes” was at the same time the more militant “abanderada de los descamisados.”32 Another contradiction lay in the fact that Eva demanded so much of female militants that the latter had no time for their own families, whereas Eva’s unique partnership with Juan merged politics and marriage. In this respect Eva could not serve as a model; hence, also for this reason, she created a new family for them in Peronism.

Did the Peróns consider the ideal female traits worthy of emulation by the male sector? Many values of the Tercera Posición, or Peronist doctrine, such as love, generosity, compassion, unselfishness, harmony, and peace seemed traditionally feminine. Juan isolated two characteristics he considered female—intuition and attention to detail—as particularly valuable in the art of leadership. He added that humility, loyalty, and obedience were important in both leaders and followers; certainly the Peróns verticalismo valued these qualities in both sexes. Yet men and women received different messages on warmth and fervor. Juan told male Peronists that leaders had to be cold and passionless, whereas Eva set the opposite example for prospective female leaders. Along these lines, Peronist textbooks presented models of male behavior that varied markedly from the female. They portrayed men as stern, rational, strong, domineering fathers but emphasized the Marian qualities in women. Evidently Eva was the only woman permitted to exhibit strength and authoritarianism; she did not train women to emulate her in this regard, but simply expected them to follow her commands.33

The Peróns’ views on renunciation were ambiguous. On one hand, Juan believed that leaders sacrificed themselves for others, and all Peronists should emulate this behavior. Eva’s renunciation of the vice-presidency prompted her husband to award her a special medal for embodying the highest qualities of a Peronist. On the other hand, Juan frequently observed that under the Tercera Posición, Argentines were achieving progress “without sacrifice or pain.” Nancy Hollander found that Peronist songs asked women to offer their lives for Peronism but exhorted men simply to unite in the movement and share in its triumph. This differing attitude on abnegation indicates that Peronism based itself on a dichotomy between men and women—one symbolized in the division of labor between Juan and Eva.34

Moving to Scott’s second proposition, however, in terms of power the Peronist propagandists’ view of women served as a paradigm for their view of the masses as a whole. As Julie Taylor demonstrated, Peronist ideologues drew upon middle- and upper-class conceptions to formulate these ideas. Peronist literature depicted Eva’s or women’s power as spiritual, intuitive, emotional, irrational, and fanatical. It tended to portray the masses in the same manner, albeit less explicitly. In this context, Perón’s words were equivocal. While he insisted that a successful political organization required a disciplined, intelligent rank and file with some sense of initiative, he admitted that the latter had no “intrinsic value” except in its “reactive power.” This reactive power, in turn, depended on the leaders, for the masses feel and intuit rather than think: leaders had to stimulate their reaction, just as the brain activated the muscles.35 Like female power, the power of the masses was instinctive and natural, requiring the control of civilized men. (At the same time, Eva Perón would probably have added that the women’s task was to civilize men and children.) As Peter Waldmann pointed out, Peronism would “domesticate” the workers, although he did not intentionally use this term in a gendered context.36

Like the consolidation of the Mexican state, the domestication of the Argentine workers apparently required parental guidance; indeed, the Peróns used familial metaphors to describe and reinforce their leadership style. A childless couple, the Peróns may have seemed unsuitable for this task, but as Eva repeatedly noted, the Argentine people were their children. Nor did Eva necessarily fit the image of a mother; while her supporters praised her by citing her beauty and her image as a strong, protective mother, her detractors focused on what they regarded as her lack of femininity and maternalism.37 Juan was an even odder choice for father of the nation than Eva may have been for mother. Some of his critics questioned his virility and manliness, since he had never fathered a child, and he tended to be attracted either to very young or passive women, or to a domineering woman like Eva.38 Perhaps another reason for this perception was the apparent “femininity” of Peronist doctrine, as indicated above. His followers, however, may have thought that with his virility Juan attracted young desirable women and rendered them passive. Juan’s image and the entire issue of his appeal to men require further investigation. What is clear is that while the Peróns justified their rule in gendered terms, their opponents used the same terms to disparage it.

Perón took some measures that happened to strengthen his masculine appeal. He exercised and dieted to remain in shape, and he dyed his hair; many Argentines considered him attractive and virile in appearance. As “First Sportsman” of the nation, Perón engaged actively in and encouraged sports, particularly boxing and motor-racing, further promoting his manly image.39 He likewise inspired feelings of masculinity in his male followers, not so much through identification with his image as through his actions on their behalf. As may have been the case with the Mexican Revolution, his reforms and his mobilization of workers encouraged them to experience hope, dignity, and self-worth; now the working man felt that he, too, was somebody and could stand up to his employer. “With Perón we were all machos,” one laborer put it.40

If Perón helped stimulate a sense of self-assertion and pride among workers, he sought to limit their autonomy and power by emphasizing his paternal qualities. Although he paid homage to the masses’ struggle to obtain economic concessions, Perón also presented himself, with Eva’s aid, as the dispenser of such concessions. He assigned to himself and to the Peronist state the responsibility for harmonizing the interests of labor and capital, just as the kindly but stern father of the Peronist texts would adjudicate disputes within the household. The first lines that children learned to write in school included “Perón nos ama. Nos ama a todos. Por eso todos lo amamos.” These and similar sentences relating to Eva reinforced the view of the Peróns as parents. The schoolbooks’ identification of Juan Perón with José de San Martín, the father of his country, further encouraged Perón’s paternal image.41 So, too, did Eva’s depiction of her husband as a father figure who possessed all the qualities she lacked and of whom she had to prove herself worthy.42

Perón’s attempts to regulate the Argentine family also manifested his paternal role. Besides the First Five Year Plan, the Constitution of 1949 and some of his speeches emphasized the family as the nucleus of society and the need for the state to protect it. According to the constitution, the state would guarantee the equality of the spouses, including their authority over their progeny, yet at the same time it would grant special attention to women and children. The state would go so far as to form “la unidad económica familiar” and guarantee “el bien de familia, presumably through Perón’s redistribution of income toward the workers. In this sense, the Peronist program may have represented a step toward a new, more egalitarian family model. Perón also expressed a regressive desire, however, to control laborers through such paternal admonitions as “de casa al trabajo y del trabajo a casa.” Along these lines, before the election of 1946 he advised his supporters to remain at home and to abstain from alcohol or festivities.43

Thus the Peróns attempted to preside over the nation as if it were their family. This may not be unique in history, but what is unusual is that many Argentines viewed this paternalistic movement as revolutionary. Eva’s persona and her relationship with Juan epitomized these contradictions. The husband and wife seemed to represent different social groups: Eva, the workers, and Juan, through his ties with the military, industrialists, and middle sectors, the bourgeoisie. Both the bourgeois and proletarian characters of the movement also found their expression in Eva as the señora burguesa” and Compañera Evita, as described by Juan José Sebreli. The “señora burguesa” or “primera dama” of the early years was a passive wife who identified herself with Marianism by taking the name of María Eva. Through her luxurious dress and newly attained status, she communicated the message that workers could rise within the existing system, just as she had. Compañera Evita, whose image increasingly predominated in subsequent years, wore plainer (although no less elegant) clothing and a more austere hairstyle, as befitted an active, hard-working woman. Her identification with the masses, hatred of the oligarchy, and emergence from passivity, according to Sebreli, may have contributed to female and working-class consciousness,44 or, in view of Scott’s second proposition, exemplified it.

The couple also challenged bourgeois morality. In this regard Sebreli noted that both Juan and Eva were illegitimate children, and that the example of Eva, as one born out of wedlock and as Juan’s mistress before their marriage, threatened the established family, the transmission of property, and the foundations of bourgeois society.45 Juan’s behavior after Eva’s demise—his dalliance with young girls, his legalization of prostitution and illegitimacy, and his divorce legislation—challenged bourgeois mores even further. Abhorrent as they were to the upper and middle classes, Perón’s sexual habits may have strengthened his appeal to the lower.46

Yet did the Peróns’ flouting of middle-class sexual norms prefigure a revolutionary appeal, or, in Scott’s terms, express a more egalitarian social order? Perhaps they were presenting a new model of the family, one more in keeping with popular customs and more easily mobilized than the conventional version. Or, like the post-1920 Mexican leaders, the Peróns may have manipulated their sexual images to encourage popular identification with themselves and thus divert potential sentiments of class revolt. Whether an actual threat existed or not, ample evidence shows Juan’s and the elite’s preoccupation with the leftist specter.41

The Peróns’ record on gender was as contradictory as their overall achievements. Considering the first part of Scott’s analysis, the “feminine” values found in Peronist doctrine, as well as Juan’s willingness to rely on Eva, may have mildly challenged the traditional definition of manhood. The Peróns attempted to ease women smoothly into public life and to offer them a somewhat broader vision of their roles, without, however, questioning the domestic sphere. In turn (regarding Scott’s second component), this resembled their efforts to incorporate workers into the political and welfare systems without questioning capitalist principles. To what extent they may have intended to restructure the family deserves further research. Nevertheless, even these limited changes required Eva’s presence. Her death removed the model of strong female leadership for other women to follow, particularly since she did not delegate authority. It also seems to have curtailed female activism and the power of the PPF. Thus, however progressive some of the Peróns’ stands may have been, the legacy appears to have been brief. In other respects, their statements and programs reinforced the traditional gender roles, and they utilized conceptions of these roles to justify their hierarchical control and authority relations within the society. The Peronist revolution, such as it was, may have weakened but did not overturn capitalism, the corporatist state, or male rule in the household. The Peróns’ use of gender and familial concepts with ambiguous content was tailor-made to serve a movement with a heterogeneous membership and essentially conservative ends.


This phenomenon of women’s participation in the revolution was a revolution within a revolution …. And if we were asked what the most revolutionary thing is that the revolution is doing, we would answer that it is precisely this—the revolution that is occurring among the women of our country!48

—Fidel Castro, 1966

Castro has consistently tied the revolution to the issue of female liberation. Regarding Scott’s first proposition, his government has implemented many programs for women, and regarding the second, its progressive view of male-female relations serves as a model for the entire spectrum of social change since 1959. Yet the problems faced by a besieged, underdeveloped island, as well as the legacy of traditional attitudes, continue to limit the revolution within a revolution. These limits, in turn, call into question the extent of transformation in broader power relationships.

In some respects Cuban women before 1959 enjoyed a higher status than their counterparts in prerevolutionary Mexico and pre-Peronist Argentina. A dynamic feminist movement had won male politicians over to its agenda. The results were sweeping laws on divorce, maternity and other benefits for female workers, civil equality with men, and the vote, all of which subsequently appeared in the Constitution of 1940. K. Lynn Stoner attributed this progressive legislation to the simultaneous birth of (and links between) democratic nationalism and feminism, as well as to politicians’ need for allies in the unstable early years of the republic. To what extent this legacy helped influence gender programs after 1959 deserves scholarly attention. By the 1950s women had achieved a slightly higher literacy rate than men, although they were vastly outnumbered in the universities. But the advances in female legal status and education did not necessarily reflect their position in society. Governments failed to enforce the impressive laws. In 1953, only 17.2 percent of women worked as paid laborers outside the home, a percentage smaller than that of Argentina in 1947, and, as in both Argentina and Mexico, they were overrepresented in poorly paid, unskilled jobs. Nor had female civil rights altered the traditional definitions of sex roles.49

When they assumed power, Castro and his guerrilla army comrades, including a few women, understood that women’s subordinate status contradicted the egalitarian goals of their struggle. Moreover, integrating women into the labor force and mass organizations was necessary to insure popular support and increase production to meet popular needs. Castro believed that, doubly oppressed in the past on the basis of sex and class, women as a group had greater revolutionary potential than men. The revolution’s success depended on its ability to tap this resource; as Castro noted, no revolution was possible without female participation. At the same time, the overthrow of capitalism had created the conditions under which women could free themselves from the burdens of poverty and sexism. Female liberation could only occur within socialism, through the determined efforts of women and men. Indeed, women were emancipating themselves and simultaneously integrating themselves into socialism, and Castro considered these processes to be the most far-reaching aspects of the revolution.50

Starting in the early days of the revolution—and before the feminist resurgence in the United States and Latin America—the government took many ambitious steps to implement both processes. In the early 1960s it encouraged women to step out of the traditional sphere by participating in the literacy campaign, the militia and police, volunteer work in the countryside, and the Comités de Defensa de la Revolución (CDRs). It sent rural women to the Ana Betancourt schools, named for a nineteenth-century Cuban feminist and independence advocate, to learn writing, reading, and sewing and to carry the revolution back to their villages. It educated domestic servants and prostitutes for alternative careers and placed them in other jobs, or, in the case of domestics, increased their wages and benefits. The government created the Federación de Mujeres Cubanas (FMC) in 1960 to bring women into the labor force and revolution, and the Frente Femenino de la Confederación de Trabajadores Cubanos in 1969 to address problems faced by female workers. Both in principle and in practice, it established equal pay for equal work, maternity leaves, vocational training programs, workers’ schools, and easy entry into higher education. To ameliorate the “double day” and begin to socialize household chores, the regime set up daycare centers; school, university, and workplace lunchrooms; and priority service for female workers at groceries and other enterprises. The agrarian reform laws gave women access to land and membership in rural cooperatives.51

Even so, Cuban rulers have not fully confronted the issue of how far to associate the redefinition of society with the redefinition of gender roles. Anomalies in government rhetoric and action continue. The new image of womanhood as revolutionary but discreetly “feminine” exhibits some of these contradictions. In its fashion section, which occupies a significant portion of each issue, the FMC’s magazine Mujeres has consistently advised women to dress attractively yet soberly and nonprovocatively. Similarly, the FMC trained former prostitutes to dress and behave in a subdued feminine fashion as part of their education for a new life. Paradoxically, the revolution seemed to approve of women displaying their bodies on ceremonial occasions. Contests to pick carnival queens took place at least until the mid-1970s, although judges and audiences chose winners on the basis not only of physical beauty but of revolutionary attitudes and participation. Criticism by the FMC and the Communist party led to the end of the practice of choosing carnival queens. Nevertheless, tourist hotels and nightclubs still feature scantily clad female dancers.52

His commitment to female equality notwithstanding, Castro himself has betrayed ambivalence. Repeatedly he denounced the bourgeois view of women as sex objects and “decorative figures.” He has praised women for their abnegation, concern for justice, discipline, and combativeness. While the first two are qualities traditionally associated with women, the last two are not; moreover, these are revolutionary traits he wants men to emulate. Castro addresses women as comrades, just as he does men, and has declared that the ideal is a government, a party, a leadership, and a state of both sexes. Yet he also assumes that women are weaker physically than men and that “proletarian manners” therefore dictate special treatment of women on some occasions. And while Castro has criticized sexist language, he has continued to refer to “the new man” as the embodiment of socialist virtues, implicitly excluding women from this category.53

The regime has selected role models for the new man from the ranks of nationalists, soldiers, and revolutionaries, and it has found female role models who resemble these heroes. These include the Mambisas, the women who struggled for independence, such as Ana Betancourt, Rosa la Bayamesa, and Mariana Grajales. Firm, revolutionary, and combative was how the FMC described the ideal Cuban woman in its posters in 1979—terms that differed little from the officially sponsored image for men to uphold. Such statements and role models helped prepare women for new undertakings. The government has praised hard-working women with nontraditional careers as National Heroines of Labor. These persons receive special attention in Mujeres, which also has publicized women in sports, the military, and the police. Moreover, in recent years women have constituted about half of the students in economics, science, and some technological disciplines not customarily seen as “feminine” areas of study.54

These new roles and images of women, however, coexist with the old. As Virginia Olesen noted, the main contribution of many Mambisas was to sacrifice themselves for their revolutionary sons and husbands. This was true of Grajales, Antonio Maceo’s mother, after whom Castro’s female comrades in the Sierra Maestra, the Marianas, named themselves. Women who engage in community volunteer work belong to the Movimiento de Madres Combatientes. Perhaps the combined imagery of maternity and soldiering helps to justify women’s new roles in traditional terms, thus promoting their acceptance, or to demonstrate the feasibility of merging such roles. Alternatively, it may suggest that the revolution has not altered women’s lives as much as one might think, or that its leaders, like the PLM, cannot break out of old patterns of thinking. Mujeres devotes more space to children, health, cooking, sewing, and other motherly concerns than it does to female workers or leaders. Moreover, its portrayals of the latter often highlight their “femininity” and maternal devotion. The magazine Muchacha sends a similar message extolling motherhood to the younger female generation. Even the well-known film statement on gender equality, Portrait of Teresa (1979), implicitly reinforced women’s responsibilities within the home, as Julianne Burton noted.55

In conformity with these responsibilities, the government continues to assign to women such duties as food preparation, childcare, cleaning, and education of the young. Occupational categories seemingly unrelated to women’s and men’s customary tasks are nonetheless reserved for one or the other gender. Officials have given some jobs to men under the pretext that they might damage female reproductive capabilities; apparently they do not fear the prospect of similar damage to male physiology. Whatever the stated reason, the work designated as female is usually lower in pay. Even within nontraditional fields, women often perform chores considered appropriate to their sex; female militia members, for example, more commonly train for civil defense than for combat. The small numbers of women who have occupied leadership positions—a significant fact in itself—have usually administered programs related to the domestic sphere and have supervised female workers and bureaucrats. As Lourdes Casal has pointed out, however, not only tradition is responsible for the creation of these “supermadres”; women entered health, education, and social service also because precisely these sectors expanded with the revolution.

The extent to which the regime has addressed Scott’s first component of gender and promoted new female roles is, therefore, debatable. Whether it has encouraged new models for male behavior is even less clear. The descriptions of the new socialist man, well-disseminated pictures of male sports heroes, and the cult of the revolutionary martyrs seem to indicate that the ideal Cuban male is firm, brave, self-sacrificing, and combative, just like the female. The propaganda that also upholds discreet femininity and motherhood for women, however, stresses virility and virtually ignores paternity for men. Evidently, as in the Mexican and Argentine cases, female revolutionaries must be mothers, but, unlike their counterparts in Argentina, male revolutionaries need not be fathers.

The definition of manhood may draw upon Castro’s image as well as traditional notions. The leader of the Cuban Revolution serves as a model of virility. Many photographs feature Castro engaged in sports or in the company of athletes. His large physique and apparent attractiveness to women add to his masculine image, as does his history of standing up to the United States. This, in turn, reinforces his popularity among Cubans, who affectionately call him “el caballo.” While Castro offers an image of virility, he has been single for many years, and although he has fathered children, he does not portray himself as a paternal type or family head—unlike Juan Perón. In terms of Scott’s second component of gender, perhaps this serves as a paradigm for a socialist government that has sought to destroy old hierarchies.56 But research is needed on Castro’s image and its influence on male roles under Cuban socialism.

The few existing works on male roles suggest some change over time. In 1966, citing the need for more daycare centers and other facilities to help boost female participation in the labor force, Castro asked who was going to prepare food and perform other housekeeping chores without such services, implying that he did not envision male family members in that role. However, at least one Cuban official has called for more male personnel in daycare centers, and husbands who truly share household chores have received the praise of Mujeres in recent years. One article featured photographs of the subject in military uniform, clearly suggesting that one could perform domestic chores and retain one’s masculinity. The effect of this publicity is uncertain. Oscar Lewis’s interviews indicated that as of 1970 men of different ages strongly resisted gender role change, but apparently no study has measured attitudes since that date. The lack of communications media specifically directed toward men impedes the study of male roles. This absence is in itself significant; like the exclusive category of the “new man,” it implies that men are the revolutionaries, as in the Mexican case, so they do not require special attention. It also implies that men, unlike women, do not need to alter their identity to join the revolution.57

The persistence of traditional gender patterns notwithstanding, many Cubans have viewed the revolution as the “revolution of women.” This attitude has particularly characterized Castro’s opponents, who, since early in the revolution, have utilized gender and familial change as a metaphor for the social transformations they despise. By sending female as well as male students into the hinterland to teach peasants to read, the literacy campaign of the early 1960s aroused opposition. Bourgeois parents, especially fathers, resented the state for undermining “their role as guardians of their daughter’s virtue,” as Alfred Padula and Lois Smith put it. The state was challenging their honor and, ultimately, their class standing, already besieged by economic policies. The literacy campaign and other programs to remove women and children from the home and integrate them into the revolution prompted parents to send their children to Miami. Such parents expected to eventually reunite their families either in exile or in a post-Castro Cuba, but ironically they decided that, in the meantime, their children were safer alone in the capitalist United States than supervised by revolutionaries in Cuba. Cuban male exiles in the late 1960s exaggerated the changes in women’s roles and equated them with promiscuity. They claimed that women no longer depended on men economically, nor were they accountable to parents or husbands. Women, one exile lamented, almost ruled themselves or were ruled “from outside,” that is, from outside the family. (In Lewis’s hook, some male supporters of the revolution ruefully agreed.) The exiles used these charges to mobilize opposition to Castro within the Cuban community in the United States. Paradoxically, a considerably higher percentage of Cubanas participates in the labor force in the United States than in Cuba—55.4 percent versus 37.3 percent as of the mid-1980s—and some Cuban female workers in the United States indicated that their jobs have given them a sense of independence.58 This information suggests that the male exiles’ gendered rhetoric is a critique more of the new power relationships on the island than of women’s status per se.

Although the extent of change in sexual mores was hardly as sweeping as opponents claimed, in many respects government policies on sexuality and marriage were more realistic and permissive than those of previous regimes. Over time the government established sex education in the schools and liberalized access to divorce, birth control, and abortions. The progressive yet largely unenforced 1940 constitution had recognized common-law marriages and removed the stigma of illegitimacy; the government fully observed these provisions but encouraged couples to formalize their relationships. Leaders, as well as the sex-education publications, attack the double standard that has encouraged male and suppressed female sexuality. Articles in Mujeres and other periodicals inform women on sexual fulfillment, proclaiming an end to female sexual passivity and ignorance—all within marriage, however. (Whether men receive the same message linking sex with marriage is not clear.)59

The emphasis on marriage, at least in female-oriented publications, indicated a government reaction against “disorganized, disordered” sexuality, as a sex education official put it,60 and in favor of reconstituting the family. The revolution had introduced so many changes that the leadership concluded that stability required the maintenance of a few traditions. Despite the apparent contradiction between the emerging socialist society and the nuclear family, reinforced as it had been by capitalism, the government decided that the latter deserved strengthening. Accordingly, the Family Code of 1975 and family-related provisions of the Constitution of 1976 recognized the “socialist family” as a group vital to the functioning of society. Concerned over the stressful effect of the revolution on family life, the government tightened divorce regulations and criticized irresponsible parents. This policy may have reinforced the cult of motherhood, but officials seem to have retained their apathy toward fatherhood. At the same time, the new legislation aimed at weakening authority relations within the home. It declared that women and men had equal rights within all spheres of activity, including the family, and assigned husbands half the share of domestic chores. Thus it also attempted to improve women’s status and end the division of labor within the family, and in this sense may have symbolized the new egalitarian social order.61

By the 1970s economic dilemmas had emerged which also help explain the context of the Family Code and the new constitution. Cubans were earning good wages but the economy did not produce sufficient consumer goods for them to purchase. Productivity was low and absenteeism high. The heavy demand for labor that had characterized the 1960s—and had prompted the hiring of women—had reversed itself. To reduce the amount of currency in circulation and spur productivity, the government increased prices for many goods and utilities and began to charge fees for daycare, among other previously free services. Under a new, decentralized managerial system, it became disadvantageous for enterprises expected to realize profits to hire women, who incurred maternity leave or otherwise were likely to miss work for family-related reasons. With the labor surplus, the regime decided to give priority to male over female employment; it guaranteed jobs only to men and to female heads of households. These changes, and more broadly the substitution of a new socialist system of distribution according to work for the previous communist system of distribution according to need, in Muriel Nazzari’s opinion set women’s liberation back.62

Under the communist system the state had taken over some of the family’s tasks of bringing up children and providing for the elderly and infirm. Under the new socialist system, however, the Family Code held individuals, rather than society, responsible for supporting their children, parents, and other family members, and, to some extent, for inculcating socialist principles. Thus the regression from communism signified a conservative trend in family and gender policy, for it implied that women would have to return home to assume these duties. Just as in nineteenth-century capitalist society, order in the sexual and familial realms suited economic policy and served as a metaphor for the new focus on discipline and hard work.

This evidence supports Max Azicri’s argument that the regime has set certain priorities above female liberation. Azicri claimed that it encouraged women to join the labor force as long as that policy coincided with the objective of increasing production. When a labor surplus and a concern for efficiency developed, it reduced its commitment. Moreover, it has mobilized women through the FMC, an institution that serves primarily as an official mouthpiece, although it also sends complaints from the ranks up to the leadership. This top-down style characterizes all of the mass organizations; in terms of Scott’s second proposition, just as in revolutionary Mexico and Peronist Argentina, domination of women symbolizes and expresses domination of the entire populace. Also, the emphasis on defense and on supporting revolutions overseas has diverted resources from the development of goods and services needed by working women. The transportation bottlenecks, the lack of household appliances, the poor quality of foods and other consumption items—along with the absence of domestic servants—impede women’s struggles to free themselves from the home.63

Nazzari and Azicri, however, ignored the very real strides Cuba has made toward gender equality in the midst of economic difficulties. The government found that the onerous “double day” kept women from entering or staying in the labor force and from pursuing political office. It instituted the Family Code and family-related sections of the constitution partly to tackle this problem by encouraging men to share household duties. While it does not enforce these laws, the government has publicized them by sponsoring debates on their ramifications, films like Portrait of Teresa, and coverage in other media. Despite the reversion to socialism and the labor surplus, women’s participation rose from 25.3 percent of the labor force in 1975 to 37.3 percent in the mid-1980s. Undoubtedly the greater demand for cash to pay for services and consumer goods helped influence women to work outside the home. During the same years, the percentage of female Communist party members and leaders as well as trade union and government officials also increased significantly. Nevertheless, only one woman, Vilma Espín, holds full membership in the Politbureau, the highest political body, while two are alternates.64

This review of gender notions and policies in Cuba enables us to understand the Cuban Revolution more fully in various ways. Regarding Scott’s first proposition, the government has often supported transformation of gender roles more staunchly than much of the public, although it does not define equality of the two sexes as the equating of the sexes. It has offered women new role models and new arenas of activity transcending by far the timid steps the Peróns took in this direction. In contrast to Mexico, the Cuban woman unequivocally participates in public matters, and she, along with the entire socialist family, has a stake in the deepening of the revolution. The extent to which the government has redefined male roles and activities is uncertain. This is an important question, for, as in the Mexican case, it is doubtful whether a revolution can rest on the immutability of either gender. Whatever the degree of change, clearly the government has controlled it, demonstrating its tendency to place the goal of mass participation below that of social transformation. Indeed, some have argued that just as the state replaced the capitalists, it has replaced fathers and husbands rather than encourage them to redefine their roles.65

According to the latter view and to Scott’s second proposition, the paternalism of the revolutionary regime is a metaphor for its larger authoritarianism. Cubans probably could not have achieved the same measure of social and gender change without the guidance of enlightened leaders linked to mass organizations, even though one wonders at what point the authoritarianism of rulers, no matter how enlightened, undermines their ideals. Nevertheless, whether one emphasizes the progressive or conservative aspects of the revolution’s gender policy, its symbolic importance is evident: for Castro, the freedoms and advances experienced by women illustrate the blessings of the revolution, whereas for his opponents, gender equality and sexual permissiveness represent its shortcomings.


Es gran tarea, la de conquistarla conscientemente, para que ella [la mujer] entienda que su propio futuro distinto está precisamente en esos derechos que se le negaron y que nosotros no le vamos a regalar, porque ella los tiene conquistados por el hecho de ser mañana una mujer que construirá una sociedad distinta.66

In this passage Salvador Allende revealed a central dilemma of both the Chilean democratic road to socialism and of the ruling coalition’s gender policy. A simplistic faith in socialism as the automatic solution to Chilean problems, including that of discrimination against women, seemed to guide Unidad Popular (UP). By implementing reforms to aid women and other groups, the UP hoped to convince the electorate of the inherent logic of this belief. Allende’s juxtaposition of two conflicting ideas—that women would liberate themselves, once the UP had “conquered” them—also suggested the contradictions underlying official attitudes on gender and, considering Scott’s second proposition, on other issues.67

The situation of women by 1970 resembled aspects of the Argentine and Cuban experiences. Chilean as well as Argentine feminists had emerged from the ranks of the left, but the Chilean left, in contrast to the Argentine, identified itself with nationalism. If Chilean feminists reaped advantages from their alliance with the nationalist cause, they were nowhere as sweeping as those gleaned by their Cuban counterparts; for example, women won the right to vote at the municipal level in 1934 but at the national level not until 1949. Chilean women organized the Partido Femenino Chileno (1946-1953), which managed to elect a congresswoman and a female senator. From the late 1940s on, housewives organized what became known as Centros de Madres (CEMAS), in which they discussed their problems and developed political awareness. The formation of these groups, as well as the tendency of female public figures to devote themselves to education and other “feminine” concerns, manifested a traditionalism of women’s political involvement similar to that of Peronist women. This traditionalism may have reflected a world in which most women still worked within the home. As of 1969, 23.1 percent of the economically active population was female, a figure much higher than the Latin American average of 13.6 but less than the Argentine percentage in 1947. At the same time, men of all classes disapproved of female integration into the labor force, and many women as well as men expressed ambivalence about female political participation, despite widespread involvement in the CEMAS.68

Like their Cuban predecessors, UP leaders recognized the importance of incorporating women into their movement. Salvador Allende and Carlos Altamirano, secretary general of the Socialist party, stated on occasion that the fate of the government would rest in female hands. Their concern was more immediate and practical than that of the Cubans. The UP had assumed power through a tiny plurality of votes, not through armed struggle; in fact, it was only laying the groundwork for socialism rather than creating it. To remain in office and fulfill its mandate, it needed to increase its following. This meant recruiting women, particularly of the middle and upper classes, the majority of whom had voted for Christian Democrats and Nationalists in 1970 and previous years. While a majority of men had also voted for the opposition in these elections, the left had managed to secure a higher percentage of male votes than female.69

The neat division of the electorate into thirds and the resulting heavy competition for votes meant, however, that all three political contenders sought women’s support. The Nationalist and Christian Democratic platforms of 1970 contained separate sections on women. Both called for equal pay for equal work, legal equality for married women, and economic opportunities or economic security for housewives. But while the rightist party document emphasized female roles within the home, the Christian Democrats envisioned women entering the public sphere, promising, for example, to integrate them “in all levels of action and decision making in the next government.” During the Eduardo Frei administration (1964-1970), the Christian Democrats had encouraged female activism, albeit within the traditionally organized CEMAS, by granting them juridical personage. According to Michael A. Francis and Patricia A. Kyle, of the three parties only the Christian Democrats favored birth control.70

The UP platform also addressed women’s needs, with provisions on establishing childcare centers, a Ministry of the Family, alcoholism programs, equal pay for equal work, and some type of security for housewives; on liberalizing divorce laws; and on equalizing the legal status of legitimate and illegitimate children. In addition, Allende endorsed full legal equality and educational and cultural opportunities for women. Except for the statements on divorce and illegitimacy, the UP’s plans appeared less progressive than the Christian Democrats’. Francis and Kyle claimed that the UP document simply commented on women here and there, and they attributed the left’s reluctance to focus on women to male paternalism and political opportunism.71

However, the UP did concentrate on women in a separate work, La mujer en el gobierno de la Unidad Popular, in which it expanded upon themes broached in the platform. This work viewed female labor ambivalently. On one hand, it blamed capitalism for forcing women to work outside the home and thus abandoning their families to ruin. On the other hand, it committed the UP to helping women liberate themselves from housework through the establishment of community services, and it specified innovative means of integrating women into production. It even promised access to family planning and sex education. It is unclear whether the publication appeared before or after the election; if it came out afterward, perhaps, as Francis and Kyle charged, the UP did not publicize its views earlier for fear of alienating the public, or perhaps the UP’s thinking had evolved.72

If, as it asserted, capitalism was responsible for the oppression of women and the family, the UP was determined to show that socialism would help them. Quickly the government established free milk programs for children and mothers and free medical care in slum areas. It raised the wage scale, enabling the poor to eat more—at least until food shortages commenced. These measures reduced the rates of infant and maternal death, disease, and malnutrition. The administration made primary education universally accessible and primary texts gratis, froze tuition for secondary education, and provided school buses. It continued Frei’s policy of opening daycare centers, and it required businesses over a certain size to set up their own daycare programs. Significantly, it helped integrate CE MAS members into production by offering vocational training in their facilities and supplying them with sewing machines and other equipment. It constructed workers’ housing and recreational centers. Excluded from agrarian reform under Frei, women were now eligible for membership in agrarian cooperatives. Domestic servants benefitted from a law requiring employers to show due cause before firing them.73

The UP was unable, however, to implement all of its policies oriented toward women. Different reasons have been suggested—its political rivals’ hindrance, the UP’s own tepid support of these programs, a wide-spread view that women’s issues were less pressing than others and could be postponed, and the short duration of the administration. The opposition in Congress delayed passage of the bill creating the Ministry of the Family until the eve of the coup, when it probably would have won approval. In its place, the government founded a less powerful National Secretariat for Women, administered by six women. Bills providing for maternity leave, legal equality for married women, divorce, the removal of the stigma of illegitimacy, and sanctions against hoarding food and speculating over food prices did not become law. Nevertheless, some members of the governing coalition had plans to push for food preparation, laundry, and other services to help working women, as well as for the regulation of cottage labor; nor did they abandon hope of implementing the unfulfilled aspects of the platform. Despite the failures, these programs and ideas, along with other socioeconomic reforms, boosted female—and male—electoral support for the UP, at least in its first six months in office.74

The UP mobilized women for various causes. Only a few weeks after Allende’s inauguration, the administration issued an invitation to women over the radio to a meeting in downtown Santiago. There, women formed the Comando Nacional Femenino to counteract the rightist media’s anti-government propaganda and to work with slum area residents. The Comando organized twenty thousand women by 1971 to distribute milk and train CEMAS members in the slums to improve their families’ dietary, sanitary, and other health-related habits. It also proposed the full-scale transformation of CEMAS into officially financed productive enterprises, managed cooperatively by the women who worked in them. Although the government did not fully meet this goal, CEMAS multiplied rapidly and attracted an impressive one million members by 1973, indicating the appeal of their new orientation. In response to rank-and-file demand—and particularly after the rightist women’s first “marcha de cacerolas vacías” in late 1971—UP leaders called women to large public meetings and discussed food shortages and other problems with them. At one such meeting in 1971 with Pedro Vuscovic, minister of the economy, the plan arose to create Juntas de Abastecimiento y Precios (JAPs) to control food prices, supplies, and the black market. By 1973 women and men, mostly in working-class neighborhoods, had established about fifteen hundred JAPs, and women played important roles in them. The UP and the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR), which remained outside the ruling coalition, helped organize women in other kinds of neighborhood and local groups. Allende encouraged women to lobby for, draft, and submit laws; women wrote the laws pertaining to divorce and illegitimacy. The UP ran seventeen female candidates for the lower house and two for the senate in March 1973, while the opposition only presented five for deputy and none for the senate. The leftist coalition managed to elect one female senator and ten female deputies.75

Despite these indications, most of the secondary literature and some participants have found fault with the UP’s record on women. Critics have focused not on the programs but on the degree of commitment and, especially, on gendered rhetoric. Female activists complained to Elsa Chaney that the UP postponed their agenda, undervalued their contributions, and excluded them from leadership. Allende appointed few women to high-level positions, and they, as well as the women mentioned above, tended to work in health, education, food distribution, and other “female” concerns. The principal exception—and a significant one—was Minister of Labor Mireya Baltra. Some critics also charged that the UP parties marginalized women by organizing them separately from men. (In this regard one might argue, however, that the UP mainly built upon precedent.) Vania Bambirra, a Brazilian exile and government sympathizer, concluded that the UP had not exerted enough effort to understand women’s problems and mobilize them. Another Brazilian exile went further and condemned the Chilean left for what she saw as its fear of female militancy.76

Existing studies have stressed the left’s inability—of which there are numerous examples—to conceive of female participation in the struggle for socialism. Although he addressed some speeches to both “compañeros” and “compañeras,” the president regarded men as the true subjects of revolution when he said that the UP would win when, among other things, la mujer chilena sepa de nuestro llamado y se incorpore a la lucha de su hombre, de su padre y de su hijo, de su hermano.” Women’s main duty, according to a Communist conference in 1971, was to insure that workers and peasants—i.e., their menfolk—increased production. In such statements the UP ignored working women or, in orthodox Marxist fashion, did not regard housewives as members of the proletariat. Given the Chilean left’s familiarity with and admiration for the Cuban revolution, its limited vision was puzzling.77

Like other Chileans, some UP spokespersons had difficulty visualizing women outside the domestic realm. Released by the official publisher Quimantú, a volume on the Chilean woman titled La mujer reassured its popular audience that she was, “primero que nada, madre,” although she was also becoming a worker and a citizen. According to this work, her prime concern was love, but aside from husband and home, the Chilena was also preoccupied with fashion. The author described her in the most traditional terms: generous, soft yet strong in defending her family, resigned, conciliatory, faithful, self-denying, and submissive.78 While generosity, loyalty, and self-sacrifice were useful traits to encourage in a revolutionary movement, resignation and submissiveness were not. Quimantú also published a magazine for women, Paloma, reaffirming a separate female sphere. So, too, did the UP program for 1971, which described women exclusively as housewives. This evidence suggests an official belief in the immutable nature of womanhood that seemingly contradicted its programs as well as (in accordance with Scott’s second proposition) the nature of a revolution.

Like leaders in Mexico, Argentina, and Cuba, some UP spokespersons seemed to view the nature of men as immutable. At times Allende and others appealed to men to act as such, according to traditional views. The president blamed men for failing to recruit their womenfolk, reminding them of appropriate male familial and sexual roles by noting that “cada uno de ustedes tiene una madre, una hija, una mujer, una hermana, una compañera o una amiga. Y él que no la tenga, ¡que se vaya de la Unidad Popular!” An activist affiliated with the Movimiento de Acción Popular Unida (MAPU), a group that belonged to the UP, resorted more overtly than Allende to the imagery of “machismo” in his worker education courses. He compared the situation of a man discovering his wife’s adultery to that of workers discovering their exploitation, and he led his students to the conclusion that the solution in both cases was the same—to “fix” the male lover as well as the bosses. Through its redistribution of income and power, the UP, like Perón and the Mexican Revolution, may have strengthened male workers’ feelings of masculinity. A MIR organizer described how some working-class men manifested their new sense of pride and assertiveness by acting aggressively with women.79 These examples suggest that the UP tended to use traditional conceptions of manhood to explain and popularize its goals. Also, as in Cuba, the lack of official publications directed toward men indicated that the subjects of revolution were male and that they, unlike women, did not need to change.

Allende used gendered language to express the need to attract support. As indicated above, he viewed the recruitment of women as a task for men to accomplish in traditional ways—indeed, through seduction. In this regard, he implicitly recognized female power, if only the power to subvert the revolution. The president indicated that “a mí me inquieta profundamente el hecho … de que la mujer no haya entendido que ella será la beneficiada” of UP policies. In his opinion, “la mujer … teme, y teme a la revolución.” In this context the president made the statement, quoted above, that the revolutionary’s task was to “conquistarla conscientemente.” In another speech he explained that “conquistar a la mujer para Chile y la revolución chilena” would entail speaking with women “con pasión” and “con ternura de hombre.” Apparently a type of domination akin to sexual subordination would be necessary to insure their loyalty.80

On the other hand, an examination of printed primary sources reveals a broad range of UP statements on gender that most existing studies have not taken into account. While the diversity of views does not necessarily belie the criticism of the UP, at least it indicates the extent of debate within the left, debate that might have led to changes in the gender system had the Chilean experiment in democratic socialism continued beyond three short years. Allende himself referred to the opportunity to create “una nueva moral, una nueva relación en el trato humano entre el hombre y la mujer,” and to new possibilities for female self-development within socialism. Altamirano further emphasized these possibilities. In his speeches he addressed women as workers and professionals, not just as mothers and wives. The Socialist leader defended the administration’s record on women and argued that despite its rhetoric the right had never assisted them. It had imprisoned them within the home, denied them rights over their own bodies, and questioned their abilities. The right tried to manipulate the woman, to keep her “un objeto pasivo y al mismo tiempo como un agente activo—aunque inconsciente—de la dominación burguesa.” It did so by confusing “la estabilidad de su familia con la estabilidad del régimen capitalista.”81 Here Altamirano demonstrated that he, more than any other revolutionary figure in the four cases, clearly understood how gender expressed power relations.

While Altamirano viewed women in some stereotypical ways, he used these stereotypes to construct an active female image and gendered symbols with a progressive political connotation. He implied that under socialism the woman could alter her capitalist-inspired passivity, when he asked her to convert “tus lágrimas de humillación en sonrisas de esperanza; tu llanto de impotencia en himnos de rebeldía; tu incertidumbre en decisión de lucha; tus temores en cantos de victoria!” More strikingly, he equated the revolution to motherhood; just as the former created a new society, women created new life. Here Altamirano not only presented women in a vital, creative role, albeit a traditional one, but firmly identified them with the left and with the subjects of the historical process.

The official media also provided images of women as revolutionary actors. Interviews with female activists and government officeholders appeared in Paloma. Ramona, a youth-oriented magazine, praised young women active in the labor force, the universities, and politics (although it said little or nothing about altering men’s traditional activities). The Communist daily El Siglo cited Luis Corvalán, secretary general of that party, on the important female role in constructing socialism. In the same newspaper Ruth Castillo, a leader of the Central Única de Trabajadores (CUT), warned the government not to relegate women to “el último rincón de la cocina.”82 Her statement revealed both the prejudice against mobilizing women and women’s determination to surmount such discrimination.

Some members of the leftist coalition, particularly women, believed that the context of social transformation demanded the redefinition of sex roles. Such ideas appeared in Paloma alongside traditional ones, but the newer viewpoints predominated. Interestingly, the magazine devoted far less space to domestic concerns and fashion than its Cuban counterpart, Mujeres. The main theme of Paloma was that, as Chile moved toward socialism, women were learning to develop their talents and personalities and to express their needs. The publication stressed the need to participate in social change and achieve more rights, but it also discussed other women’s requisites, such as asserting their sexuality. While Paloma directed itself mainly to a female audience, as noted above, it also invited men to a dialogue. Whether it attracted many male readers is doubtful, but some men wrote columns reacting to changing mores, often defensively.83

Quimantú published another volume on women that differed markedly from La mujer. Its author, Virginia Vidal, who also wrote for El Siglo, pointed out the interdependence between female emancipation and revolution to a proletarian female audience. In a significant departure from the gendered rhetoric found in all four countries, she criticized both machismo and, particularly, “la mística de la maternidad” for condemning women to frustration, isolation, subordination, and sexual dissatisfaction. She added that women should not be expected to marry or have children in order to lead happy, productive lives. Nevertheless, Vidal defined female liberation simply as women’s involvement in the creation of socialism. While she censured machismo, she avoided the issue of male responsibility within the home and assigned traditional domestic tasks to either women or the state.84

Other UP spokespersons did question the immutability of male roles and the family structure. The Communist senator Julieta Campusano publicly called for men to share household chores with women and insisted that, by doing so, they need not feel “menoscabado en su condición de tal [hombre].” Paloma provided examples of husbands who helped in the home and thus enabled their wives to participate in activities outside it. It also encouraged men to assume responsibility for birth control by interviewing a man who had had himself sterilized and highly recommended the procedure to other men. Congressman Luis Maira of the Christian Left party, a UP affiliate, described the ill-fated projected law to grant legal equality to married women as a first step toward creating a socialist family within which men and women would enjoy equal rights and obligations. Indeed, a female professional reported in Paloma that women were training their sons and husbands not to be “un patron en el hogar,” indicating that other Chileans besides Altamirano linked authority relations in society with those within the family.85

This group included the female opponents of the government. Even before Allende’s inauguration, some bourgeois women had already declared their opposition to him. The food shortages (which they helped create), proposed changes in family law, nationalization measures, and harsh UP responses to their demonstrations reinforced their fears of Marxism. So, too, did the UP’s ineffectual campaign for educational reform, in which it planned to enlist schools in the struggle for social transformation. Beyond vague rhetoric on the schools’ role in the creation of the “new socialist man and the need to combine work and learning, the educational reform did not explicitly challenge the values of bourgeois homes. Nonetheless, middle- and upper-class parents regarded it as a government attempt to indoctrinate and control their children. This was an example of how they, like anti-Castro Cubans, described the UP’s multiple offensives against the class hierarchy as a Marxist threat to the family. To combat this perceived threat, bourgeois women formed Poder Femenino (PF) and other anti-Allende groups.86

Some members of PF feared that their title sounded feminist, an ideology they opposed. They defined their mission instead in terms of traditional “feminine power”: their task was to challenge men to be truly “masculine” and defend women and children against the leftist onslaught. In reaffirming the gender system they were both metaphorically and otherwise maintaining the socioeconomic system. In their famous “marchas de cacerolas vacías,” they criticized the government’s economic policy for hindering women from performing their function of feeding the family. Echoing Eva Perón, they identified homes as the “trenches,” where they would oppose Marxism by doing what Chilenas had always done—telling men what to do. Indeed, they spent much of their time denouncing military officers and upper-class males as cowardly, impotent, and homosexual for not overthrowing the government. The rightist women left the actual counterrevolution to men, but as Gen. Augusto Pinochet recognized, they had summoned the men to action.87

The traditionalism of PF and, indeed, of many Chileans influenced the UP’s gender policies and statements to some extent. A precarious government that did not control the senate, the courts, the armed forces, and the media, unlike the Cuban regime, perhaps could not afford to place itself too far ahead of popular opinion. Yet the leadership pressed other divisive issues, such as the restructuring of the economy and agriculture, in spite of the difficulties caused. A consideration as important to UP leaders as limiting opposition was keeping their unruly coalition together. The MIR and some members of the alliance, including the Christian Left, one faction of the Socialist party, and groups of workers and landless peasants, urged the government to take more radical stands and carried out provocative actions in the hope of forcing their will on Allende. Others, such as the Communists, advised restraint. Caught between these diverging viewpoints within its own ranks, to say nothing of the opposition from outside, the regime tried desperately to conciliate and unite its beleaguered forces.88 The diverse opinions on gender may well have reflected these divisions. The UP’s attempted seduction and conquest of women seemed to serve as a paradigm for this larger effort to maintain the coalition. Ultimately, the former proved no more successful than the latter.

This review of gender notions in the Allende years underscores the contradictions of the democratic road to socialism. Regarding Scott’s first proposition, Armand and Michèle Mattelart had warned the Chilean left in the late 1960s that a successful revolution would depend on integrating both women and men into revolutionary organizations, using education and the media to destroy sex roles, and ending the excessive familism of bourgeois society. For various reasons, the UP was unable to achieve these ends. In terms of the second proposition, that its gender policy mirrored its inability to unite its supporters and govern effectively is not surprising. What is, perhaps, surprising is that the right, unlike some of the left, saw the nexus between gender change and broader socioeconomic change, however incompletely the UP had realized these goals. When General Pinochet took office he immediately ordered women, including the PF, to return to their homes. While he dismantled most of the UP reforms, he retained some of its programs for women and children, thus tightening the identification between womanhood and motherhood. At the same time, his government promoted the figure of the soldier as the male ideal and the patriarchal family as the model for the new political order.89 In this manner Pinochet’s regime removed whatever creative ambiguity existed in the definitions of masculinity and femininity in Allende’s Chile.


The immediate, natural, and necessary relationship of human being to human being is the relationship of man to woman. … In this relationship is sensuously revealed and reduced to an observable fact how far for man his essence has become nature or nature has become man’s human essence. Thus, from this relationship the whole cultural level of man can be judged. From the character of this relationship we can conclude how far man has become a species-being, a human being, and conceives of himself as such.90

—Karl Marx, 1844

As Marx indicated, gender analysis is a useful means of determining the true character of a particular regime, movement, or society. The notions of both components of gender expressed by the governments under study generally matched the nature of the administrations as a whole. The Carrillos, Galindo, Castro, and Unidad Popular believed that the new order could not coexist with the subordinate status of women. Governments and individuals that genuinely aspired to transcend authority relations in the public realm attempted to do the same in the domestic realm, as shown in Cuba, in Yucatán under Carrillo, and to a limited extent in Allende’s Chile. Their egalitarian gender policies and, in some cases, gendered rhetoric expressed and symbolized their overall aims. The belief in social hierarchy of the Peróns, Alvarado, Carranza, and Mexican governments of the 1920s—and of Castro’s and Allende’s opponents—translated into more conservative gender notions, and in turn they used traditional gendered imagery and programs to describe their political views. The study highlights the contradictions of the UP administration’s record on gender issues. As it followed the Cuban revolution, the Chilean case also reveals that governments did not necessarily adopt more progressive gender policies and gendered language with the simple passage of time or through familiarity with other socialist experiences, although some of the obstacles the UP faced were beyond its control.

The essence of the political right is its belief in a given order of things, in the immutability of the social hierarchy, the economic system, and the definitions of manhood and womanhood. In contrast, the left does not accept the status quo as natural or given, and it seeks to reshape existing institutions and ideas to construct a more egalitarian and just society. Yet to some extent even the most innovative governments and individuals under study have accepted the roles and personalities customarily assigned to men and women. Their belief that women possessed revolutionary traits may have distinguished Altamirano and Castro from the Mexicans, Argentines, and Chileans who categorized women as conservative; nevertheless, like the latter, they equated womanhood with motherhood. Expediency tempered all the programs oriented toward women and reduced the possibilities for gender change. The perceived need to harness women’s services for the revolution and to neutralize their potential opposition often outweighed the goal of altering female roles. Moreover, the inability to address the issue of male roles has hampered even the most radical efforts to change women’s status. While Perón’s image in some ways challenged the old definition, only the Cuban Revolution attempted to redefine manhood, and barely so. In the other cases, politicians and the masses may have justified political and socioeconomic reforms as having restored traditional manliness. Also, to some extent in all four countries, the absence of explicit appeals to men indicated that they, unlike women, were the legitimate occupiers of the public sphere and did not have to alter their roles.

Change has been limited not only in the first component of gender but in the second as well. Official spokespersons in the four countries continued to validate aims of political consolidation and economic development in terms of traditional manhood and womanhood, and in Mexico, Argentina, and Chile, of the well-ordered family. Of all the revolutionary leaders, only Altamirano appeared to consciously grasp the idea that gender expresses power relationships, although the Mexican leaders of the 1920s, the Peróns, and the opponents of change in Cuba and Chile, possibly unconsciously, appeared to use this notion effectively for conservative ends.

Perhaps, as Marx suggested, people creating a new society justify the changes by cloaking them in traditional dress because they have not yet liberated themselves completely from old ways of thinking.91 Or perhaps even the most radical leaders have feared that complete liberation from gender roles would threaten the model of rule from above. The ambiguity and disorder characterizing a revolutionary process contain potential for change, a prospect that alarms the right and, at least in theory, pleases the left. In practice, by reducing the ambiguity in women’s new roles, the governments under study may have diminished the possibility of innovation. In addition, they all curtailed female—and male—autonomy. Even the avowed socialists Castro and Allende failed to delegate control over change to the subjects of change. Some Chileans used the imagery of male conquest to express this attempted domination; Mexican and Argentine leaders employed the same symbol as well as that of parent-child. Thus in at least three of the four cases, governments resorted to gendered language to signify limits on initiative from below. To what extent change from above is ultimately possible remains an unsolved question for Cuba.92

This review has also indicated the state of the art of gender studies in the four cases. The absence of work on men is striking; perhaps the notion that they are the subjects of history, as mentioned above, and the fact that history once concentrated largely on male leaders, have led researchers to assume that they need no additional attention. By confining their search to policies and messages directed toward women, most students of gender have overlooked the equally significant, albeit less obvious ones aimed at men. Only through careful examination of both can one see how pervasively gender constructs politics.93 Further study of the second component of gender in Latin America would surely reveal other powerful examples of this phenomenon and thereby enhance our understanding of the region’s past.

I thank Charles Ambler, Rosemary Brana-Shute, Elsa Chaney, Alicia Frohman, Donna Guy, Linda Hall, Kathleen Staudt, K. Lynn Stoner, and María Elena Valenzuela for suggestions and materials; the UTEP Minigrant Program for its financial support; and, particularly, Cheryl Martin for her valuable comments on the various drafts of this article. These persons are not, however, responsible for the opinions expressed.


Joan Scott, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis,” American Historical Review, 91:5 (Dec. 1986), 1067-1070. On definitions of gender also see Susan C. Bourque, “Gender and the State: Perspectives from Latin America,” in Women, the State, and Development, ed. Sue Ellen Charlton, Jana Everett, and Kathleen Staudt (Albany, 1989); “Editorial,” Signs, 13:3 (Spring 1988), 399-402. My labeling of the components or propositions as first and second does not imply any ranking.


Scott, “Gender,” 1071; also see 1070-1074. On the nineteenth-century bourgeoisie, see George L. Mosse, Nationalism and Sexuality: Middle-Class Morality and Sexual Norms in Modern Europe (Madison, 1985); Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America (New York, 1985); Mary P. Ryan, “Femininity and Capitalism in Antebellum America,” in Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminism, ed. Zillah R. Eisenstein (New York, 1979), 151-172. For other examples of this tendency see Natalie Davis, Society and Culture in Early Modern France (Stanford, 1975), 124-129.


Classic descriptions of the “traditional” gender system in Latin America include Evelyn Stevens, “Marianismo, the Other Face of Machismo in Latin America,” 89-101, and Cornelia Butler Flora, “The Passive Female and Social Change: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Womens Magazine Fiction,” 59-85, both in Female and Male in Latin America, ed. Ann Pescatello (Pittsburgh, 1973). Scholars have frequently accepted the cult of motherhood and other aspects of the gender system discussed in these works as having persisted unchanged over centuries. Rigorous studies of the origins, evolution, and workings of the system are needed; pioneering works include Silvia Marina Arrom, The Women of Mexico City, 1790-1857 (Stanford, 1985); Asunción Lavrin, ed., Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America (Lincoln, 1989); Ramón A. Gutierrez, “Honor Ideology, Marriage Negotiation, and Class-Gender Domination in New Mexico, 1690-1846,” Latin American Perspectives, 12:1 (Winter 1985), 81-104.


Although the economic and gender-related reforms of the 1930s might have made it a period more worthy of study, I limit my examination of Mexico to the epic revolution (1910–20) and the revolutionary governments of Yucatán (1915-18, 1922-24). I do so because of the greater abundance of secondary literature on these years, and in order to depict a longer period. I include statements by members of the Partido Liberal Mexicano that predated 1910 to provide additional insight into the early revolution.

I discuss feminism and the incorporation of women into the labor force only insofar as they directly affected official gendered rhetoric and programs.


Scott, “Gender,” 1070.


Alvarado in El Primer Congreso Feminista de Yucatán, Anales de esa memorable asamblea (Merída, 1916), 31; María Elvira Bermúdez, “La familia,” in La υida social, vol. 2 of México: Cincuenta años de reυolución, 2 vols. (Mexico City, 1961), 88; Hermila Galindo, Estudio de la Srta. Hermila Galindo con motive de los tenuis que han de absolυerse en el segundo Congreso Feminista de Yucatán (Mérida, 1916), 15.


On Mexican women before 1910 see Arrom, Women; Jean Franco, Plotting Women: Gender and Representation in Mexico (New York, 1989), 3-101; Carmen Ramos Escandón et al., Presencia y transparencia: La mujer en la historia de México (Mexico City, 1987); Mary K. Vaughan, “Women, Class, and Education in Mexico, 1880-1928,” in Women in Latin America: An Anthology from Latin American Perspectives (Riverside, 1979), 63-69; Frederick C. Turner, “Los efectos de la participación femenina en la revolución de 1910”, Historia Mexicana, 16:4 (April–June 1967), 604-607. The percentage is taken from Turner, 605.


Shirlene Ann Soto, The Mexican Woman: A Study of Her Participation in the Revolution, 1910-1940 (Palo Alto, 1979), 9-32; Anna Macías, “Women and the Mexican Revolution, 1910-1920,” The Americas, 36:1 (July 1980), 53-82; John Reed, Insurgent Mexico (Middlesex, England, reprint of 1914 ed.), 88-91, 144, 160, 217; Elizabeth Salas, Soldaderas in the Mexican Military. Myth and History (Austin, 1990), esp. 73.


Práxedis G. Guerrero, “Las revolucionarias” and “La mujer,” in Regeneración 1900-1918: La corriente más radical de la reυolución mexicana de 1910 a través de su periódico de combate, ed. Armando Bartra (Mexico City, 1977), 198-199 and 202, respectively. These articles appeared in either Reυolución or Punto Rojo between 1907 and 1910, according to Bartra. Also see Ricardo Flores Magón, “A la mujer,” 235 (from Regeneratión, Sept. 24, 1910); Gilbert M. Joseph, Revolution From Without: Yucatán, Mexico, and the United States, 1880-1924 (Cambridge, 1982), 218; Ilene Virginia O’Malley, “Propaganda, the Myth of the Revolution, and the Institutionalization of the Mexican State, 1920-1940” (Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1983), 44-45, 237-239; Salas, Soldaderas, 82-101. Anarchists elsewhere in the Americas held similarly conservative, although not religiously inspired views of female roles; see Marifran Carlson, ¡Feminismo! The Women’s Movement in Argentina From Its Beginnings to Eva Perón (Chicago, 1988), 123-124, 127; Maxine Molyneux, “No God, No Boss, No Husband: Anarchist Feminism in Nineteenth-Century Argentina,” Latin American Perspectives, 13:1 (Winter 1986), 129, 132-135; Asunción Lavrin, “The Ideology of Feminism in the Southern Cone, 1900-1940, The Wilson Center Latin American Program, Working Paper no. 169(1986), 13.


Legislators quoted in Bermúdez, “La familia,” 89; Salvador Alvarado, La reconstruction de México: un mensaje a los pueblos de México, 3 vols. (Mexico City, 1919), II, 293-294. On Marianism see Stevens, “Marianismo.” The phrase “el pueblo sufrido” appears frequently in corridos.


Eric R. Wolf, “The Virgin of Guadalupe: A Mexican National Symbol,” Journal of American Folklore, 71 (1958), 34-39; Harvey L. Johnson, “The Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexican Culture,” in Religion in Latin America. Life and Literature, ed. Lyle C. Brown and William F. Cooper (Waco, 1980), 190-203; Virgil Elizondo, “Our Lady of Guadalupe as a Cultural Symbol: ‘The Power of the Powerless,’” Concilium, 102 (1977), 25-33; Jacques Laſaye, Quetzalcoatl and Guadalupe: The Formation of Mexican National Consciousness, 1531-1813, trans. Benjamin Keen (Chicago and London, 1976), esp. 299-300. William B. Taylor discussed conflicting interpretations of the Virgin during the colonial and independence periods in “The Virgin of Guadalupe in New Spain: An Inquiry into the Social History of Marian Devotion,” American Ethnologist, 14:1 (February 1987), 9-13; research on the revolutionary era is needed. D. A. Brading, in “Tridentine Catholicism and Enlightened Despotism in Bourbon Mexico” (Journal of Latin American Studies, 15:1 [May 1983], 2-5), noted that the cult of the Virgin in this period represented, among other things, the unity of the Mexican colony under Mexico City and its archbishop. The Zapatista documents contained in El ejército campesino del sur (ideología, organización y programa) (Mexico City, 1982) did not reveal any interpretation of the Virgin.


O’Malley, “Propaganda,” 239-247; Franco, Plotting Women, 102; Américo Paredes, “The United States, Mexico, and Machismo,” trans. Nancy Steen, Journal of the Folklore Institute, 8:1 (June 1971), 17-37; Linda Hall and Cheryl Martin, comments. Brief condemnations of priests’ supposed encouragement of female promiscuity are found in E. V. Neimeyer, Jr., Revolution at Querétaro: The Mexican Constitutional Convention of 1916-1917 (Austin, 1974), 81, 97.


See the sections on Villa and Zapata in Merle E. Simmons, The Mexican Corrido as A Source for Interpretive Study of Modern Mexico (1870-1950) (Bloomington, 1957), 250-319; and those on the revolutionary leaders in John Rutherford, Mexican Society during the Revolution: A Literary Approach (Oxford, 1971), 134-171. Also see Jesús Romero Flores, Corridos de la Revolución Mexicana (Mexico City, 1977); O’Malley, “Propaganda,” 44-46; Katherine Anne Porter, “Corridos,” Survey, 52 (May 1924), 157-158.


Guerrero, “La mujer,” 201-203; Flores Magón, “A la mujer,” 235-237; Galindo, Estudio, 9, 15; Franco, Plotting Women, xix.


Alvarado, La reconstrucción, 292–293, 296, 299–302; Salvador Alvarado, Actuación reυolucionaria del General Salvador Alvarado en Yucatán (Mexico City, 1920), 46-48. On his social programs see Anna Macías, Against All Odds: The Feminist Movement in Mexico to 1940 (Westport, 1982), 64–80; Soto, The Mexican Woman, 49-56. On the congresses see Alaíde Foppa, “The First Feminist Congress in Mexico, 1916,” Signs, 5:1 (Autumn 1979), 192–199; Primer Congreso, Anales; Galindo, Estudio.


Alan Knight, Counterrevolution and Reconstruction, vol. 2 of his The Mexican Revolution, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 1986), 520, 522. Note the preoccupation with rape in El ejército, 71; Soto, The Mexican Woman, 34; Neimeyer, Revolution, 206. Anger over the disorder and immorality of the revolution helped motivate the Cristero revolt; see Jean A. Meyer, The Cristero Rebellion: The Mexican People between Church and State, 1926-1929, trans. Richard Southern (New York, 1976), 140-143, 154. On Alvarado’s policies, see his Actuación, 76; Joseph, Revolution, 105; Vaughan, “Women,” 70-71. On women as tamers see Sherry B. Ortner, “Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?” in Woman, Culture, and Society, ed. Michelle Zimbalist Rosaldo and Louise Lamphere (Stanford, 1974), 67-87.


Alvarado, Actuación, 45; Macías, Against All Odds, 71; Primer Congreso, Anales; Joseph, Revolution, 111. On Carranza’s attempted control over the 1916-17 constitutional convention, see Niemeyer, Revolution, 36-37, 58-59, 222.


Felipe Carrillo Puerto, “The New Yucatán,” Survey, 52 (May 1924), 138-142; Joseph, Revolution, esp. 216–219, 237–263; Macías, Against All Odds, 87–100; Soto, The Mexican Woman, 56-64; Vaughan, “Women,” 71-72. On the coeducational, anticlerical schools see David L. Raby, Educación y revolución social en México (1921-1940), trans. Roberto Gómez Ciriza (Mexico City, 1974), 37-38. Much work remains to be done on the gender implications of educational reform in revolutionary Mexico.


Carranza quoted in Donna M. Wolf, “Women in Modern Mexico,” Studies in History and Society, 1 (1976), 34; Bermúdez, “La familia, 88-89; Soto, The Mexican Woman, 34-35; Artemisa Sáenz Royo (“Xochitl”), Historia política-social-cultural del movimiento femenino en México 1914-1950 (Mexico City, 1954), 50, 66-67; Lillian Estelle Fisher, “The Influence of the Present Mexican Revolution upon the Status of Mexican Women,” HAHR, 22:1 (Feb. 1942), 212-213. Fisher (214) described the constitutional clause conferring equal rights to all Mexicans, yet its intent was nationalistic rather than feminist. Carranza’s political and economic liberalism is discussed in: Charles C. Cumberland, The Mexican Revolution: The Constitutionalist Years (Austin, 1972), 383-384, 387, 401; Robert E. Quirk, The Mexican Revolution 1914-1915; The Convention of Aguascalientes (Bloomington, 1960), 9-10, 152; John Mason Hart, Revolutionary Mexico: The Coming and Process of the Mexican Revolution (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1987).

Defense of marriage often is a class position, as Jane Jaquette noted in Female Political Participation,” in Sex and Class in Latin America, ed. June Nash and Helen Icken Safa (New York, 1976), 230.


O’Malley, Propaganda, 95, 98-99, 175, 245-246, 258; compare with Smith-Rosenbergs discussion of the Davy Crockett myth in Disorderly Conduct, 90-108. Also see Linda B. Hall, review of the published version of O’Malley’s dissertation, The Myth of Revolution: Hero Cults and the Institutionalization of the Mexican State, 1920-1940 (New York, 1986), in American Historical Review, 93:2 (April 1988), 532-533.


Rutherford, Mexican Society, 164.


See Mosse, Nationalism, 23 and passim, for treatment of the theme of immutability. In Woman Suffrage in Mexico (Gainesville, 1962), Ward M. Morton discussed the view of women as conservative. On women’s radical activity, see Vaughan, Women, 72, 76; Verna Carleton Millan, Mexico Reborn (Boston, 1939), 164-167. On the character of the revolution by the 1920s, see Esperanza Velázquez Bringas, comp., Méjico ante el mundo. Ideología del presidente Plutarco Elías Calles, 2d ed. (Barcelona, 1927), 72-78; John Womack, Jr., The Mexican Revolution, 1910-1920,” in The Cambridge History of Latin America, ed. Leslie Bethell (Cambridge, 1984), V, 80-82, 152-153.


Eva Perón, La razón de mi υida (Buenos Aires, 1951), 311. As Eva’s works were ghostwritten, the words cited here and elsewhere are not truly hers, but they nevertheless indicate official opinion.


Susana Bianchi, “Peronismo y sufragio femenino: la ley electoral de 1947,” Anuario del IEHS, 1 (1986), 265–266. On the history of women’s economic activities, see Nancy Caro Hollander, “Women in the Political Economy of Argentina” (Ph.D. diss., University of California at Los Angeles, 1974); Marysa Navarro, Hidden, Silent, and Anonymous: Women Workers in the Argentine Trade Union Movement,” in The World of Womens Trade Unionism: Comparative Historical Essays, ed. Norbert C. Soldon (Westport, 1985), 165-198.


Las mujeres de Argentina (Buenos Aires, 1952[?]), 25; Vera Pichel, Mi país y sus mujeres (Buenos Aires, 1968), 73; Perón, La razón, 265-267. On feminism, see Carlson, Feminismo; Asuncion Lavrin, Women, Labor and the Left: Argentina and Chile, 1890–1925.” Journal of Women’s History, 1:2 (Fall 1989), 88–116; Lavrin, Ideology ; María del Carmen Feijoó, “Las luchas feministas,” Todo Es Historia, no. 128 (Jan. 1978), 7-23; Cynthia Jeffress Little, “Moral Reform and Feminism,” Journal of Inter-American Studies and World Affairs, 17:4 (Nov. 1975), 386-397; María Isabel Constenla y María Amelia Reynoso, “La mujer y la política,” Todo Es Historia, no. 183 (Aug. 1983), 68-79.


Nicholas Fraser and Marysa Navarro, Eva Perón (New York, 1981), 107. On Peronist women see Estela dos Santos, Las mujeres peronistas (Buenos Aires, 1983); Alberto Ciria, Política y cultura popular: la Argentina peronista 1946-1955 (Buenos Aires, 1983), 181-186; Julia Silvia Guivant, “La visible Eva Perón y el invisible rol político femenino en el peronismo: 1946-1952,” University of Notre Dame, Kellogg Institute Working Paper no. 60 (Jan. 1986), esp. 30, 53; Perón, La razón, 289-295; Nancy Caro Hollander, “Si Evita Viviera …, in Women in Latin America, 108; Susana Bianchi and Norma Sanchis, El Partido Peronista Femenino, 2 vols. (Buenos Aires, 1988), I, 37–42; Norma Sanchis, “¿Mujeres en la política o política ‘de mujeres’? Un análisis de la experiencia de las mujeres peronistas, 1945-1955,” Isis Internacional, 10 (Dec. 1988), 99-101.


Marysa Navarro, Eυita (Buenos Aires, 1981), 211, 213; Bianchi and Sanchis, El Partido, I, 67-68, 91.


Peter Waldmann, El Perυnismo 1943-1955, trails. Nélida Mendilaharzu de Machaín (Buenos Aires, 1981), 87.


Perón, La razón, 289; Navarro, Eυita, 220; Catalina Wainerman, “El mundo de las ideas y los valores: Mujer y trabajo,” in Del deher ser y el hacer de las mujeres: Dos estudios de caso en Argentina, ed. Catalina Wainerman, Elizabeth Jelin, and María del Carmen Feijoó (Mexico City, 1983), 87-89; Bianchi and Sanchis, El Partido, I, 69-70; Sandra F. McGee, “The Visible and Invisible Liga Patriótica Argentina, 1919-1928: Gender Roles and the Right Wing,” HAHR, 64:2 (May 1984), 233-258. Bianchi and Sanchis (49) pointed out that the Peronist mobilization of women conflicted with that of the church. The gender implications of the relationship between Peronism and the church need study.


Julia A. Jolly, “Eva Perón: Adventuress or Militant?” Proceedings of the PCCLAS, 4 (1975), 86; Perón, La razón, 279; Eva Perón habla a las mujeres (Buenos Aires, 1975), 34; Bianchi and Sanchis, El Partido, I, 45; Bianchi, “Peronismo,” 278-279, 284.


Guivant, La visible, 39-43; McGee, “The Visible”; Eva Perón señala el camino del civismo a la mujer argentina (Buenos Aires, 1951), 10, 12; Eva Perón habla, 91. Juan Perón had justified state interference in the family in a speech in 1944; see Juan Perón, El pueblo quiere saber de qué se trata (Buenos Aires, 1944), 5-6.


Eva Perón habla, 42, 44-45, 89, 123; Eva Perón inmortal (Buenos Aires, 1953[?]); Eva Perón and Pier Social Work (Buenos Aires, 1950); Eva Perón, Die/consignas para la mujer peronista,” Mundo Peronisŧa, 1:2 (Aug. 1, 1951), 5; Guivant, “La visible,” 48; J. M. Taylor, Eva Perón: The Myths of a Woman (Chicago, 1979), esp. 86; Bianchi, “Peronismo,” 277. Peronist songs in Julio Darío Alessandro, ed., Cancionero de Juan Perón y Eva Perón (Buenos Aires, 1966), praised both images of Eva. The “madona” appears, for example, in “Eva de América, 56-57, and “Evita capitana,” 306-307, lauds the militant Evita.


Juan Domingo Perón, La tercera positión argentina (Buenos Aires, n.d.), 10, 13, 31, 46, and Conductión político, 2d ed. (Buenos Aires, 1974), 14, 150-154, 160; Sanchis, “Mujeres,” 96-98, Wainerman, “El mundo,” 87-88.


Perón, Conductión, 75; Robert D. Crassweller, Perón and the Enigmas of Argentina (New York, 1987), 241; Movimiento Nacional Justicialista, Perón: Actualizatión política y doctrinaria para la toma del poder (Madrid, 1971); Hollander, “Si Evita, 109. Marysa Navarro described the dual leadership of Peronism in “Evita’s Charismatic Leadership,” in Latin American Populism in Comparative Perspective, ed. Michael L. Conniff (Albuquerque, 1982), 47-66.


Taylor, Myths, esp. 113, 126; Perón, Conducción, 30, 223-225.


Waldmann, El Peronismo, 36-37.


Taylor, Myths, 72-85; Bianchi and Sanchis, El Partido, II, 152-156.


Taylor, Myths, 78-79; Joseph A. Page, Perón: A Biography (New York, 1983), 6, 78-79, 291-292; Navarro, Evita, 324.


Page, Perón, 24-25, 224-225, 293, 295, 339; “Historia del Peronismo, la primera presidencia,” parts 16 and 17, Primera Plana, Sept. 6, 1966, pp. 40-43, and Sept. 13, 1966, pp. 38-42.


Quoted by Daniel James, Resistance and Integration: Peronism and the Argentine Working Class, 1946-1976 (Cambridge, 1988), 29; also see 36-37.


Ciria, Politica, 219, 283-284; Perón, El pueblo, 124; Eduardo Romano, “Apuntes sobre cultura popular y peronismo,” in La cultura popular del peronismo, ed. Norman Briski et al. (Buenos Aires, 1973), 35; Ernesto Goldar, “La literatura peronista,” in El peronismo, ed. Gonzalo Cardenas et al. (Buenos Aires, 1969), 152.


Perón, La razón; Navarro, Evita, 328, 348.


Perón, El pueblo, 5; Faustino J. Legón and Samuel W. Medrano, eds., Las constituciones de la Nación Argentina (Madrid, 1953), 480-481; James, Resistance, 34; Julio Mafud, Sociología del peronismo (Buenos Aires, 1972), 40.


Juan José Sebreli, Eva Perón: ¿Aventurera o militante? 2d ed. (Buenos Aires, 1966), 30, 59-61. 76, 83-85, 90. Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, among other leaders, also used family imagery; see Taylor, Myths, 12, 15.


Sebreli, Eva, 25, 28, 53-54. Also see Taylor, Myths, 78-79, 89-90, on the Black Myth and Eva’s sexuality.


Mafud, Sociología, 126; Page, Perón, 292.


Bianchi, “Peronismo,” 284, noted Peronist desires to avoid revolutionary upheaval. In Reversal of Development in Argentina: Postwar Counterrevolutionary Policies and Their Structural Consequences (Princeton, 1987), Carlos H. Waisman described at length Peronist and upper-class fear of the left. Charles Bergquist, in Labor in Latin America: Comparative Essays on Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, and Colombia (Stanford, 1986), 152-167, discussed Peronist persecution of leftist unions.


“The Revolution within the Revolution,” in Women and the Cuban Revolution: Speeches and Documents by Fidel Castro, Vilma Espín. and Others, ed. Elizabeth Stone (New York, 1981), 48.


On women, gender relations, and feminism before 1959, see Stoner, “From the House to the Streets: Woman’s Movement for Legal Change in Cuba, 1898-1958” (Ph.D. diss., Indiana University, 1983); Lourdes Casal, “Revolution and Consciencia: Women in Cuba,” in Women, War, and Revolution, ed. Carol R. Berkin and Clara M. Lovett (New York, 1980), 185-189; Casal, “Images of Women in Pre- and Postrevolutionary Cuban Novels,” ed. Virginia R. Domínguez, Cuban Studies, 17 (1987), 25-50; Mirta de la Torre Mulhare, “Sexual Ideology in Pre-Castro Cuba: A Cultural Analysis” (Ph.D. diss., University of Pittsburgh, 1969); Verena Martínez-Alier, Marriage, Class, and Colour in Nineteenth-Century Cuba (New York, 1974). The figure comes from Casal, “Revolution,” 189.


Among many statements to this effect, see Castro, “The Revolution,” 48-51; Susan Kaufman Purcell, “Modernizing Women for a Modern Society: The Cuban Case,” in Female and Male, ed. Pescatello, 261-262; Fidel Castro on Chile (New York, 1982), 127-128.


Cuban programs for women and the family have inspired a vast literature. See, for example, Purcell, “Modernizing”; Isabel Larguía and John Dumoulin, “Women’s Equality and the Cuban Revolution, 344-368, and Carmen Diana Deere, “Rural Women and Agrarian Reform in Peru, Chile, and Cuba,” 199–203, in Women and Change in Latin America, ed. June Nash and Helen Safa (South Hadley, MA, 1985); Cuba Review, 4:2 (Sept. 1974); Cuba Review, 5:4 (Dee. 1975); Oscar Lewis, Ruth M. Lewis, Susan M. Rigđon, Four Women: Living the Revolution. An Oral History of Contemporary Cuba (Urbana, 1977); Margaret Randall, Women in Cuba: Twenty Years Later (New York, 1981); La mujer en Cuba socialista (Havana, 1977); entire issue of Cuban Studies, 17 (1987); Ėaurette Sejourné, La mujer cubana en el quehacer de la historia (Mexico City, 1980). On day care and education, see Marvin Leiner, Children Are the Revolution: Day Care in Cuba, 2d ed. (New York, 1978); Karen Wald, Children of Che: Childcare and Education in Cuba (Palo Alto, Jonathan Kozol, Children of the Revolution: A Yankee Teacher in the Cuban Schools (New York, 1978). For additional sources before 1974, see Nelson P. Valdes, “A Bibliography on Cuban Women in the Twentieth Century,” Cuban Studies Newsletter, 4:2 (June 1974), 1-31.


Stone, “Introduction,” 18, and Communist Party of Cuba, “Thesis: On the Full Exercise of Women’s Equality, 102, in Stone, Women: Virginia Olesen, “Confluences in Social Change: Cuban Women and Health Care, Journal of Inter-American Studies and World Affairs, 17:4 (Nov. 1975), 401-402; Max Azicri, “Women’s Development Through Revolutionary Mobilization: A Study of the Federation of Cuban Women,” International Journal of Women’s Studies, 2:1 (Jan.-Feb. 1979), 35; Purcell, “Modernizing,” 267-268; “Paso a la estrella,” Cuba Internacional, Sept. 1973, p. 74. Sources on beauty contests are listed in Valdes, “Ribliography,” 38. I surveyed Mujeres, Jan.-Dec. 1978, Jan.-June 1980, July-Dee. 1981, Mar. 1984, and Jan.-June 1986. In three issues picked at random, clothing and sewing patterns covered from 14 to 18 percent of the total pages.


Fidel Castro, “The Struggle for Women’s Equality,” 68-72, and Communist Party, “Thesis,” 75, in Stone, Women; C. Fred Judson, Cuba and the Revolutionary Myth. The Political Education of the Cuban Rebel Army, 1953-1963 (Boulder, 1984), especially 239.


Stoner, “Breaking the Mold: The Mambisas and the Cuban Wars of Independence,” ms.; Carollee Bengelsdorf, “On the Problem of Studying Women in Cuba,” in Cuban Political Economy: Controversies in Cubanology, ed. Andrew Zimbalist (Boulder, 1988), 126-129; Mujeres, passim.


For information in this and the next paragraph, see Olesen, “Confluences,” 402-403; Casal, “Revolution,” 191; Pastor Vega, director, Retrato de Teresa (1979); Julianne Burton, “Seeing, Being, Being Seen: ‘Portrait of Teresa,’ or Contradictions of Sexual Politics in Contemporary Cuba,” Social Text, 4 (Fall 1981), 79-95; Lois M. Smith, “Teenage Pregnancy and Sex Education in Cuba,” paper presented at Latin American Studies Association (LASA) meeting, New Orleans (Mar. 1988), 27; Isolina Triay, “Hilda del Carmen: la realización de un sueño, Mujeres, 26:4 (Apr. 1986), 61; Stoner, comments. Maxine Molyneux noted a similar emphasis on motherhood in other socialist countries in “Socialist Societies Old and New: Progress Towards Women’s Emancipation?” Feminist Review, 8 (Summer 1981), 1-35. On the tendency of female bureaucrats to work in family-related matters, see Elsa M. Chaney, Supermadre: Women in Politics in Latin America (Austin, 1979). Approximately half of the March 1984 issue of Mujeres was devoted to motherhood- or family-related matters, and this coverage seemed typical for the magazine.


Trevor Slack, “Cuba’s Political Involvement in Sport Since the Socialist Revolution,” Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 6:2 (Fall-Winter 1982), 36; photos of Castro in Fidel Castro, Fidel sobre el deporte (Havana, 1975); Lois M. Smith and Alfred Padula, “Twenty Questions on Sex and Gender in Revolutionary Cuba,” Cuban Studies, 18 (1988), 150.


Castro, “Revolution,” 52-53; Bengelsdorf, “Studying Women,” 135, n. 33; Judson, Cuba, 58; Gladys Castaño, “Una pareja de hoy,” Mujeres, 18:7 (July 1978), 75; Alicia Cascaret, “Teresa y Manolo,” Mujeres, 20:6 (June 1980), 24-25; Lewis et al. Four Women; Ana María Radaelli, “For The Full Equality of Women,” Cuba International, 1:4 (July 1985), 15; Smith and Padula, “Twenty Questions,” 157. The male role in the home has changed little, according to Safa, “Women, Industrialization and State Policy in Cuba,” University of Notre Dame, Kellogg Institute Working Paper (December 1989), 39. Juυentud Rebelde, Granma, and the debates at various levels of society over the Family Code might be useful sources for a study of male roles.


Padula and Smith, “Women in Socialist Cuba, 1959-1984,” in Cuba: Twenty-Five Years of Revolution, 1959-1984, ed. Sandor Halebsky and John M. Kirk (New York, 1985), 82; Geoffrey E. Fox, “Honor, Shame and Women’s Liberation in Cuba: Views of Working-Class Emigré Men, in Pescatello, Female and Male, 279–280, 287; Stoner, quotation on the “revolution of women”; Lewis et al., Four Women. Contemporary critics of the French revolution also equated it with promiscuity; see Scott, Gender, 1071. For the figures on working women, see Yolanda Prieto, “Cuban Women in the U.S. Labor Force: Perspectives on the Nature of Change, Cuban Studies, 17 (1987), 77; and Bengelsdorf, “Studying Women,” 123.


Olesen, “Context and Posture: Notes on Socio-Cultural Aspects of Women’s Roles and Family Policy in Contemporary Cuba,” Journal of Marriage and the Family, 33 (Aug. 1971), 551-552; Smith, “Pregnancy,” 5; Monika Krause, “Sex Education in Cuba,” paper presented at LASA meeting, New Orleans (Mar. 1988); Krause, “Los cubanos y el amor,” Cuba Internacional, 15:161 (Apr. 1983), 32-34; “En defensa del amor,” Mujeres, 24:3 (Mar. 1984), 52-53. Krause is the coordinator for the Grupo Nacional de Trabajo de Educación Sexual (GNTES).


Krause, comments in discussion at LASA session. This same reaction also is related to the antihomosexual policy of the 1960s and 1970s, an exception to the tolerant government actions mentioned above. See Lourdes Argüelles and B. Ruby Rich, “Homosexuality, Homophobia, and Revolution: Notes Toward An Understanding of the Cuban Lesbian and Gay Male Experience, Part I,” Signs, 9:4 (Summer 1984), 683-699; “Cuban Prisons: A Preliminary Report,” Cuban Update, 9:1-3 (June 1988), 28; “Segunda carta a los padres,” Mujeres, 18:6 (June 1978), 65; Carlos Alberto Montaner, Fidel Castro y la reυolución cubana (Barcelona, 1983), 131-134, 257-261. Molyneux pointed out that other socialist countries regard homosexuality as a crime, in “Socialist Societies,” 11.


The texts of the Family Code and relevant articles of the constitution are found in La mujer, 281-340, 386-390, respectively. Also see Smith, “Pregnancy,” 9-10; Bengelsdorf, “Studying Women,” 122. Various articles in Mujeres described the family as the cell of socialist society.


Azicri, “Women’s Development,” 41-42; Bengelsdorf, “Studying Women,” 121-122; and, for information in this and the next paragraph, Muriel Nazzari, “The ‘Woman Question’ in Cuba: An Analysis of Material Constraints on Its Solution,” Signs, 9:2 (Winter 1983), 258-263; and Robert Cohen, “Cuba’s New Generation: Coming of Age,” Cuba Review, 8:2 (June 1978), 10-11.


Azicri, “Women’s Development”; Stoner, comments.


The figures are cited in Bengelsdorf, “Studying Women,” 123. Also see 120-124, 126-129; Patricia Peyton and Carlos Broullon, “Portrait of Teresa: An Interview with Pastor Vega and Daisy Granados,” Cineaste, 10:1 (Winter 1979-80), 24-25, 47; Marifeli Pérez-Stable, “Cuban Women and the Struggle for ‘Conciencia’,” Cuban Studies, 17 (1987), 66, n. 1; Heidi Steffens, “A Woman’s Place …,” Cuba Review, 4:2 (Sept. 1974), 29; Marjorie King, “Cuba’s Attack on Women’s Second Shift, 1974-1976,” in Women in Latin America, 118-131.


Padula and Smith, “Women,” 90. Also see Fox, “Honor,” 289; Rhoda Pearl Rabkin, “Cuban Political Structure: Vanguard Party and the Masses,” in Cuba, ed. Halebsky and Kirk, 250, 267; Safa, “Women,” 48.


Salvador Allende, Salvador Allende 1908-1973: Prócer de la liberación national, ed. Alejandro Walker (Mexico City, 1980), 255.


Bergquist noted the UP’s “uncritical acceptance of a Marxist orthodoxy” in Labor in Latin America, 79. Edda Gaviola Artigas, Lorella Lopresti Martínez, and Claudia Rojas Mira, “La participación política de la mujer chilena entre los años 1964-1973” (ms., Santiago, 1987), 13, and María Elena Valenzuela, private communication, pointed out the widespread view that within socialism women could achieve liberation painlessly. On populist and corporatist tendencies in Chilean socialism, see Paul Drake, Socialism and Populism in Chile, 1932-52 (Urbana, 1978).


On feminism and women’s status before 1970, see Chaney, Supermadre; Gaviola Artigas et at, “Queremos υotar en las próximas elecciones.” Historia del moυimiento femenino chileno 1913-1952 (Santiago, 1986); Paz Covarrubias, “El movímiento ſeminista chileno,” in Chile: mujer y sociedad, ed. Paz Covarrubias and Rolando Franco (Santiago, 1978), 615-648; Armand Mattelart and Michèle Mattelart, La mujer chilena en una nueva sociedad. Un estudio exploratorio acerca de la situación e imagen de la mujer en Chile (Santiago, 1968); Lavrin, “Ideology” and “Women”; Gaviola Artigas et at, “La participatión,” 81-85; Felicitas Klimpel, La mujer chilena (el aporte femenino al progreso de Chile), 1910-1960 (Santiago, 1962), esp. 127-149. The figures come from Sol Argueđas, Chile: Hacia el socialismo (Mexico City, 1973), 150; and Chaney, “Women in Latin American Politics: The Case of Peru and Chile,” in Female, ed. Pescatello, 131.


Allende, Allende, 255; Carlos Altamirano, Decisión revolucionaria (Santiago, 1973), 153; Chaney, “The Mobilization of Women in Allende’s Chile,” in Women in Politics, ed. Jane S. Jaquette (New York, 1974), 268-269; Chaney, information on female voting patterns.


Michael Francis and Patricia A. Kyle, “Chile: The Power of Women at the Polls,” in Integrating the Neglected Majority: Government Responses to Demands for New Sex Roles, ed. Patricia A. Kyle (Brunswick, OH, 1976), 106, 108-110.


Ibid., 110-111.


Unidad Popular, La mujer en el gobierno de la Unidad Popular (Santiago, 1970).


On the reforms the UP implemented or planned, see Deere, "Rural Women,” 196-197; Altamirano, Decisión, 162, 164-165; Samuel Chavkin, Storm Over Chile: The Junta Under Siege (Westport, 1985), 195, 199-202, 204; Paloma, 2 (Nov. 28, 1972), 24; Gavióla Artigas, Lopresti, and Rojas, “Chile—Centro de Madres—¿La mujer popular en movimiento?” Isis Internacional, 10 (Dec. 1988), 86; Gaviola Artigas et al., “La participación.” More work is needed on policies toward women before and during the Allende years.


Chaney, “Mobilization,” 272; Kyle and Francis, “Women at the Polls: The Case of Chile, 1970–1971,” Comparative Political Studies, 11:3 (Oct. 1978), 306; Steven M. Nouse, “Voting in Chile: The Feminine Response,” in Citizen and State, ed. John A. Booth and Mitchell A. Seligson, vol. 1 of their Political Participation in Latin America, 2 vols. (New York, 1978), 128-144; Unidad Popular, Programa básico de la Unidad Popular. Agenda 1971 (Santiago, 1971); Paloma, 1 (Nov. 14, 1972), 7, and 3 (Dec. 12, 1972), 6-7; Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional, Santiago, Sección Labor Parlamentaria, file on the Ministerio de la Familia. Chaney attributed the failures to the UP’s decision to assign low priority to women’s issues; Chavkin, Storm, to the opposition; and Valenzuela, in private comments, to a variety of factors.


Régis Debray, Conversación con Allende, 8th ed. (Mexico City, 1976), 105; Chavkin, Storm, 195, 198-199, 202-203; Altamirano, Decisión, 154, 161-162; Amanda Puz, La mujer chilena (Santiago, 1972), 81-82; Vuscovic meeting in The Chilean Road to Socialism, ed. Dale L. Johnson (Garden City, 1973), 457-472; Gaviola Artigas et ah, “La participación,” 31-33. On the number of candidates, see Paloma, 8 (Feb. 20, 1973), 12; I thank Verónica Valdivia for the numbers of victorious female candidates. On the growth of CEMAS, whose number doubled between 1971 and 1973, see Gaviola Artigas et al., “Chile,” 86.


Chaney, “Mobilization,” 269-270, 272; Vania Bambirra, “La mujer chilena en la transición al socialismo,” Punto Final, June 22, 1971, Suplemento, 2, 5; Angela Neves-Xavier de Brito, “Brazilian Women in Exile: The Quest for an Identity,” trans. Charlotte Stanley, Latin American Perspectives, 13:2 (Spring 1986), 65; Colin Henfrey and Bernardo Sorj, trans, and eds., Chilean Voices: Activists Describe Their Experiences of the Popular Unity Period (Atlantic Highlands, NJ, 1977), 139.


Norma Stoltz Chinchilla, “Mobilizing Women: Revolution in the Revolution,” in Women in Latin America, 147; Julieta Kirkwood, Ser política en Chile. Las feministas y los partidos (Santiago, 1986), 41; Allende, La revolución chilena, 3d ed. (Buenos Aires, 1973), 121 and 134.


Puz, La mujer; see esp. 4-12, 35, 51, 62, 91. Chaney cited this book in Supermadre, 46, as an example of UP traditionalism.


Henfrey and Sorj, Chilean Voices, 43, 136; Allende quoted in Arguedas, Chile, 147.


Allende, Allende, 255; Arguedas, Chile, 147.


Allende, Allende, 255. For Altamirano’s quoted statements in this and the following paragraph, see Decisión, 157, 167; also see 154, 156-161, 166-167. An opponent of the UP, Teresa Donoso Loero, however, claimed in La epopeya de las ollas vacías (Santiago, 1974), 74, that Altamirano had characterized female votes as “second class.” Gaviola Artigas et al., “La participación,” is an exception to the tendency found in most of the secondary works.


Ramona, El Siglo, Mar. 8, 1972, p. 9, and May 29, 1971, p. 1. Also see the following issues of Paloma.. 1 (Nov. 14, 1972), 114-115; 2 (Nov. 28, 1972), 10; 8 (Feb. 20, 1973), 12-15; 20 (Aug. 7, 1973), 4-8.


Gaviola Artigas et al., “La participación,” 19; Paloma, 1 (Nov. 14, 1972), inside cover. Nineteen percent of this issue was devoted to motherhood- and housewife-related concerns, and 12 percent to fashion; compare to Mujeres, n. 52 and 55.


Virginia Vidal, La emancipación de la mujer (Santiago, 1972).


El Siglo, May 21, 1971, p. 3, and May 29, 1971, p. 5. Also see the following issues of Paloma: 1 (Nov. 14, 1972), 46–48; 4 (Dee. 26, 1972), 11; 22 (Sept. 4, 1973), 105, 109.


On the UP’s female opponents, see accounts written by PF members: Donoso Loero, La epopeya, and María Correa Morande, La guerra de las mujeres (Santiago, 1974). Other sources include Chaney, information on the food shortages; Nathaniel Davis, The Last Two Years of Salvador Allende (Ithaca, 1984), 47–48, 65, 154–155, 196, and passim; María de los Ángeles Crummett, “El Poder Femenino: The Mobilization of Women Against Socialism in Chile,” Latin American Perspectives, 4:4 (Fall 1977), 103-113; Michèle Mattelart, “Chile: The Feminine Side of the Coup Or When Bourgeois Women Take to the Streets,” NACLA’s Latin America and Empire Report, 9:6 (Sept. 1975), 14-25; Ercilla, 1989 (Aug. 29-Sept. 4, 1973), 10-13. On school reform see Joseph P. Farrell, The National Unified School in Allende’s Chile. The Role of Education in the Destruction of a Revolution (Vancouver, 1986).


Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, Mensaje a la mujer chilena (Santiago, 1976[?]), 5-7. Women played roles similar to those of the PF in other Latin American countries. For female participation in the events leading to the coup of 1964 in Brazil, see John W. F. Dulles, Unrest in Brazil. Political-Military Crises 1955-2964 (Austin, 1970), 173, 189-190, 261, 267–268, 272, 275-278, 341-342; Heloisa Maria Murgel Starling, Os senhores das Gerais: Os novos inconfidentes e o golpe de 1964 (Petrópolis, 1986), 151-192; Solange De Deus Simões, “Deus, Pàtria e Família: As mulheres no golpe de 1964” (Master’s thesis, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, 1983).


Davis, Allende, 403-405, stressed government indecision and inability to restrain some of its allies; Farrell, School, emphasized its failure to compromise with the opposition; the various authors in Allendes Chile, ed. Philip O’Brien (New York, 1976), faulted the government for its moderation; Peter Winn, Weavers of Revolution. The Yarur Workers and Chile’s Road to Socialism (New York, 1986), esp. 184-195, described Allende’s conflict with workers who took over a factory.


Chavkin, Storm, 207; Mattelart and Mattelart, La mujer, 215-217; Pinochet, Mensaje; Franz Hinkelmart, “La ideología de la Junta Militar,” in Chile bajo la junta (Economía y sociedad en la dictadura militar chilena), ed. Luis Vargas et al. (Madrid, 1976), 169-191; María Elena Valenzuela, La mujer en el Chile militar (Santiago, 1987), esp. 87.


Karl Marx, “Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts,” (1844) in Karl Marx: Selected Writings, ed. David McLellan (New York, 1977), 88.


Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,” (1851) in Selected Writings, 300. Also see Eric Hobsbawm, “Introduction: Inventing Tradition,” in The Invention of Tradition, ed. Hohshawm and Terence Ranger (Cambridge, 1983), 2. Scott discussed the use of conservative gendered language to justify radical change hut did not delve into the contradictions, in "Gender,” 1073-1074.


These thoughts have been influenced by Mosse, Nationalism., Taylor, Myths; Smith-Rosenberg, Disorderly Conduct; and especially Mary Douglas, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (Middlesex, England, 1966), 114, 191. Also see Scott, “Gender,” 1073-1075.


Stoner, ed., Latinas of the Americas: A Source Book (New York, 1989) provides the most current information on the state of the art of Latin American women’s studies. Smith and Padula, Twenty Questions ; and Virginia R. Domínguez, “Sex, Gender, and Revolution: The Problem of Construction and the Construction of a Problem,” Cuban Studies, 17 (1987). 7-23, posed interesting questions about men in revolutionary Cuba.