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The Storm that swept Mexico: Introduction to the Mexican Revolution
“In the spring of 1911, the New York Times said that Mexican women were playing ‘a spectacular part’ in the Revolution. Women from all socioeconomic backgrounds were joining resistance groups; publishing revolutionary newspapers and magazines; serving as teachers and nurses; founding hospitals and health organizations; purchasing, smuggling, and selling arms; fighting on the battlefields; and collaborating in the planning and drafting of revolutionary documents. This widespread participation in the Revolution thrust Mexican women into many roles that traditionally had been reserved for men (for example, train dispatchers, telegraphers, and engineers). North American author Frederick Turner stated that the Revolution helped to equalize relations between men and women because ‘men saw themselves united in a new relationship with the woman, now that she assumed a totally unfamiliar role as partner and equal. For the first time in the history of Mexico, she developed her abilities…and gained recognition as companion, consort, and equal.2 Thus, for many women, the Revolution created unique opportunities to break the chains of tradition.
Prior to the Revolution, Mexican women lived in virtual seclusion. Only 8.82 percent of Mexican women were gainfully employed in 1910; marriage, family life, and the Catholic Church dominated their existence. In the early 1910s, Mrs. E. Alex Tweedie, a British visitor, noted that ‘the life of a Mexican woman is not a jovial one; she marries straight from the convent or school, and her home is her horizon. Very ideal no doubt, but rather dull.
Because the historically restrictive social traditions that controlled pre-revolutionary Mexican women were altered so radically, the lives of women in all social classes were changed dramatically. Upper-class women generally served the Revolution by donating their time to such health organizations as the Red Cross or White Cross; middle-class women served the revolutionary cause by working in a broad range of skilled and semi-skilled capacities; and thousands of lower-class women worked at unskilled jobs heretofore closed to them. Some women even followed their men into battle, serving the cause as soldaderas. In addition to their being thrust into nontraditional roles and trades, the geographical isolation of Mexican women was altered in an unprecedented way because the Revolution drove women from their native regions. Further, many of the women who remained at home were forced to survive without their husbands’ salaries and thus sought employment for the first time.
Watch the following video and answer this question What are 3 roles that women had during the Mexican revolution? : www.pbs.org/itvs/storm-that-swept-mexico/classroom/revolutionary-women/
Do you think Esperanza’s family is part of the small landowners or large landowners?
What role do you think Esperanza would have in the revolution? Do you think she would be on the trains following the soldiers or do you think she would have a more artistic role like the campobello sisters?
What role do you think Hortensia would have in the Mexican revolution?