The Cardinal Edge


Bloody struggles, tense political debates, and general unease characterized Mexico in the early twentieth century. Under former president Porfirio Díaz, tensions grew as the lower classes pleaded for labor and land reform, culminating in a violent period of revolution from 1910 to 1917. As with all conflicts of this scale, the Mexican Revolution prompted the challenging of many long standing social conventions, specifically as they pertained to the role of government and the organization of social classes. With the restructuring of society already underway, many activists capitalized on the uncertainty of the era to push against the subjugation of women. Feminist movements were not new to Mexico; however, the revolution presented an opportunity to raise women's stations and make space for them outside of the home. With this campaign to bolster women’s positions in society came critical examinations of the existing gender roles and perceptions of femininity. Class struggles revealed how typical understandings of women’s role in society–specifically remaining confined to the home–derived from upper class customs, and often proved inapplicable or unattainable for those of lower socioeconomic standing. This period also saw immense conflicts between the Mexican state and the Catholic Church on the grounds of political power and land ownership, however the Church provided one of the few opportunities for women to participate in the public sphere. This relationship helped define many aspects of femininity as the revolution approached and became a prominent discussion point in the fight for education as many champions of the anti-clerical movement argued in support of women’s education as a means to decrease their reliance on the institution. Women's suffrage, soldaderas, prostitution, and sex education all played key roles in exposing and morphing how Mexican society conceptualized femininity. The fight for women’s education became a focal point of revolutionary Mexico by embodying the Mexican public’s attempt to integrate changing perceptions of femininity into the emerging modern era as the struggle pushed many women from their previous places in the home into the public sphere.

policies_submission_agreement.pdf (189 kB)