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From Casa to Calle: Latin American Women Transforming Patriarchal Spaces Marjorie Agosin, ed. Surviving Beyond Fear: Women, Children and Human Rights in Latin America. Fredonia, Ε .Î¥.: White Pine Press, 1993.217. Ruth Behar. Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza's Story. Boston: Beacon Press, 1993. xiv + 372. Christine E. Bose and Edna Acosta-Belén, eds. Women in the Latin American Development Process. Phüadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995. χ + 290. Marguerite Guzman Bouvard. Revolutionizing Motherhood The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1994. 278. Margaret Hooks. Guatemalan Women Speak. Washington, D.C: EPICA, 1993. xvi +133. Sarah LeVine in collaboration with Clara Sunderland Correa. Dolor y AlegrÃ-a: Women and Social Change in Urban Mexico. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993. xi + 239. Marianne H. Marchand and Jane L. Parpart, eds. Feminism/Postmodernism /Development. London: Routledge, 1995. xiii + 275. Sarah A. Radctiffe and Saltie Westwood, eds. 'Viva' Women and Popular Protest in Latin America. London: Routledge, 1993. xiii + 270. Margaret Randall. Sandino's Daughters Revisited Feminism in Nicaragua. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1994. xvi + 311. Margaret RandaU. Our Voices/Our Lives Stories of Women from Central America and the Caribbean. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1995. 213. Lynn Stephen, ed. and translator. Hear My Testimony: Maria Teresa Tula Human Rights Activist of El Salvador. Boston: South End Press, 1994. 240. Francie R. Chassen-López Motherhood: Marianistas and Supermadres But the image of the black-clad mantilla-draped figure, kneeling before the altar, rosary in hand, praying for the souls of her sinful menfolk, dominates the television and cinema screens, the radio programs, and the popular Uterature, as weU as the oral tradition of the whole culture area.1 © 1997 Journal of Women's History, Vol. 9 No. ι (Spring) 1997 Review Essay: Francie R. Chassen-López 175 Motherhood is a pervasive element of Latin American women's identity , far more so than in the United States and Western Europe. Traditional gender constructions situate mothers as symbols of self-sacrifice and moral superiority, and images of a "loving, forgiving" Virgin Mary are omnipresent in Latin American Catholicism. Marianismo, the belief in "female spiritual superiority" analyzed by Evelyn Stevens, functions as the counterpart of machismo, exaggerated manifestations of male virility and honor. According to a popular Mexican saying, "it is the wife who marries." The alternative female role is that of the bad woman/whore who defies social convention and flaunts her sexuality.2 Derived from these gender roles are famiUar spatial relations: women in the casa, the home or the private sphere, and men in the calle, the street or the public sphere. Even when Latin American women enter politics, they often emphasize their role as mothers, reasoning that efficient homemakers wiU effectively put the city, state, congress, or nation in order. The chUdless Eva Perón projected herself as mother of aU Argentines.3 In her successful 1990 presidential campaign, the devoutly Catholic Violeta Barrios de Chamorro "dress[ed] in white, aU virginal, with her arms outstretched tike the pope, and talking about 'my chüdren/ " a comforting maternal image to the divided Nicaraguan people, according to Sandinista MiM Vargas (in RandaU, Sandino's Daughters Revisited, 138). Analyzing this phenomenon seventeen years ago, Elsa Chaney labeled these women supermadres (supermothers).4 Thus, traditional constructions of gender roles even shaped women's entry into politics in Latin America, where most women continued to reject feminism. Conservative women related feminism to radical projects based on atien ideologies that threatened to destroy the farruly, while women on the Left considered it an import of European or U.S. imperialism. From her study of women's political participation Ui Chile and Peru in the 1960s and 1970s, Chaney linked supermadre politics to a marked tendency toward political conservatism, arguing that women's political participation arose in waves, peaking at moments of crisis. When the crisis subsides, "the image of woman's role has not changed sufficiently to aUow more than a few to remain active on a responsible level." Chaney queried: if women began to enter politics en masse, would their sustained participation change potitics as usual?5 Over the last 25 years, thousands of women, once content...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 174-191
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-25
Open Access
No
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