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LGBTQ History and Movements in Brazil  

James N. Green

An Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer (LGBTQ) movement emerged in the late 1970s during the Brazilian military dictatorship (1964–1985), as the country slowly moved toward democracy. The “Homosexual Movement,” as it was called at the time, along with feminist and black organizations that formed during the same period, fought for an end to discrimination, equality, and full rights. Since then, LGBTQ activists have challenged stereotypes about lesbians, gay men, and trans people and won some important victories, such as same-sex marriage, legal recognition of trans people’s rights to legalize their gender identity, and constitutional protection against hate speech, although discrimination and violence against LGBTQ people is still widespread. The movement challenged traditional Catholic Church notions of homosexuality as a sin, medico-legal discourses that considered same-sex and nontraditional gender performances as sicknesses, conservative political ideologies that privileged the heteronormative family, and sectors of the Left that considered homosexuality a product of “bourgeois decadence.” Built upon a long history of resistance to impositions of compulsory heterosexuality and normative gender roles, lesbians, gay men, and trans people formed diverse communities during the second half of the 20th century that offered important support networks. They also appropriated public spaces for dissident sexualities and gender performances. Carnival became a privileged site for subverting traditional gender roles. Gay activists pushed the government to change initial conservative policies dealing with HIV/AIDS, and Brazil became an international model for effectively combating the disease. Lesbians fought within the feminist movement for acceptance and against social norms that marginalized them. Trans people gained considerable respect and certain rights. The LGBTQ movement remains diverse in practice, composition, and ideologies. A recent reactionary backlash, which has united conservative Catholics, evangelical Christians, and right-wing political forces, is trying to undo the advances made since the late 1970s in favor of social toleration, respect, and equality.

Article

Lucha Libre  

Stephen Allen

Lucha libre, or professional wrestling, has become a staple of urban Mexican culture over the course of the 20th century. In the past twenty years, it has gained international acclaim for its distinctive style and culture. Best known for the masks that luchadores often wear, lucha libre has become a distinctly national rendition of an imported product. Along with Japan and the United States, Mexico is one of the most influential nations in the world of professional wrestling. The sport allows fans to root for técnicos, rudos, and exóticos and it provides theater that upends societal norms in Mexico. Banned from performing on television by Federal District authorities from the 1950s to the early 1990s, wrestlers like El Santo and Blue Demon took to the silver screen to film “Mexploitation” horror and science fiction films. Although the sport has become an urban tradition, it reflects the cosmopolitan nature of working-class urban culture as well as the influence of Mexican culture on other nations.

Article

Masculinities, Consumption, and Domesticity during the Perón Era  

Natalia Milanesio

Supported by a multiclass alliance including the working class and some sectors of industry and the military, Juan Domingo Perón’s government (1946–1955) industrialized the country, modernized and expanded the state, transformed local and national politics, empowered the labor unions, and substantially improved the standard of living. Perón combined a strong nationalistic and anti-oligarchic discourse with concrete material benefits like high wages, the expansion and consolidation of the retirement system, paid vacations, housing subsidies, and full employment that ensured the political support of large sectors of the working population. Like the workers, various other traditionally disenfranchised social sectors took center stage. The very poor became the main beneficiaries of the charities run by first lady Eva Perón; women won the right to vote with a law passed in 1947 and were mobilized and politicized by the Peronist Party; and children were recognized by the government as the true heirs of the new Argentina built by Peronism and thus subject to co-optation and indoctrination. At the same time, internal migrants, attracted by the promises of a better life and industrial employment, left the countryside and small towns in the interior for the cities, propelling a profound process of urbanization. The cultural, social, political, and economic changes that marked the Peronist years had major consequences for gender relations, roles, and identities, transforming the ways of being a man or a woman in mid-twentieth-century Argentina. Those changes profoundly reshaped discursive and symbolic representations of masculinities as well as social and cultural expectations of manhood across different social classes while creating the political, social, and economic conditions that facilitated the transformation of masculinity as a lived, everyday experience.

Article

Men and Modernity in Porfirian Mexico  

Robert M. Buffington

The Porfirian era (1876–1911) marked a watershed in social understandings of manhood. New ideas about what it meant to be a man had appeared in Mexico by the middle of the 19th century in the form of self-help manuals intended primarily for middle-class and bourgeois men who sought to distinguish themselves in a post-independence society that had done away with legal distinctions, including aristocratic titles. Marks of distinction included cleanliness, good grooming, moderation, affability, respectability, love of country, and careful attentiveness to the needs and opinions of others, including women, children, and social “inferiors”—an approach that artfully combined longstanding notions of masculine responsibility and authority with modern ideas about self-mastery and citizenship, especially the sublimation of volatile “passions” in all domains of social life. Modern qualities also mapped onto traditional concerns about male honor predicated on the fulfillment of patriarchal duties, especially the control of female dependents. The socially validated, “hegemonic” masculinity produced by this amalgamation of modern and traditional ideas proved burdensome for many middle-class men, who struggled to maintain an always precarious sense of honor or who rejected the constraints it sought to impose on their behavior. For men from less privileged classes, it represented an impossible ideal that they sometimes rejected through the adoption of antisocial “protest” masculinities and often satirized as delusional or unmanly, even as they too came to define their masculinity in relation to a modern/traditional binary. The modern/traditional binary that characterized ideas about masculinity for all sectors of Porfirian society has persisted until the present day, despite the epochal 1910 social revolution that inaugurated a new era in Mexican social relations.

Article

Political Participation of Women in Chile through EVA Magazine, 1970–1973  

María Stella Toro

Right-wing women in Chile have received relatively little historical attention, and while they have engaged in many public activities, they have usually been seen as a complementary political force, lacking independent agency and relying on directions from party leaders. This perception is related to the denials that such women usually make of their own impacts, justifying their presence in the public arena as an “obligation” to mobilize for the welfare of others, in this case, family and country. This sort of political engagement ebbs and flows according to particular political circumstances, evoking symbols, images, and discourses that have been used at different times. One example is the way that women took to banging on empty pots during the marches against the Popular Unity (Unidad Popular) to express their discontent and their inability to properly care for their families. The triumph of the Popular Unity coalition in the 1970 elections, led by socialist Salvador Allende, was met with dogged opposition from conservative women who took to the streets even before Allende’s victory was ratified in Congress. Between 1970 and 1973, women involved with political parties and right-wing ideas mobilized both in the streets and in the media; as in the case of EVA magazine, organizing spaces were configured under the discourse that, as mothers and housewives, they were called to defend the country from Marxism, suggesting that women were “naturally” endowed to protect the freedom and democracy that they believed was threatened by a leftist government. Such activism, however, was rooted in a sense of emergency and was never intended to be long-lasting, and it ended abruptly after the 1973 military coup. The actions of right-wing women raise various questions, particularly regarding the political subjectivities that they constructed, their motivations, their political conceptions, and their self-conceptions. These questions, among others, help us understand Chilean women beyond the traditional roles that they struggled so hard to preserve. The idea that their activism was solely a response to the manipulation of other political forces does not explain the complexity of the processes developed by conservative women or their presence in different historical moments. Thus, it is important to reflect on the inherently political characteristics of their engagement, notwithstanding their consistent denials of partisan considerations.

Article

Rius: The Cartoonist Voice of the Mexican Left  

Sarah Deane (Howard)

Fatherless, poor, seminary educated, and neck deep in the ebbs and flows of the political Left, Eduardo del Río (popularly known as Rius) lived a fascinating life. He experienced, within one lifetime, rural and urban living, religious and secular education, conservative and liberal politics, and the life of a worker and an artist. Awash in experience, Rius’s untraditional trajectory contributed to his ideas of national identity construction. Rius became a voice of distinction at the moment when the Mexican Miracle began to crack, and the promises of the Revolution were left unfulfilled. In his comics, he presented the complex and pressing issues of his country, city, and people brilliantly within the humble setting of a small rural town and the lives of his simple characters. Deep readings of Rius’s books, cartoons, two autobiographies, and two comic books (Los supermachos and Los agachados) provide road maps of the artist’s politics, beliefs, and position of importance in the cultural landscape of Mexico. Rius’s work, a form of subversive enlightenment, transformed the mundane, day-to-day realities of existence into a project of national identity construction. His unique position allowed for an authentic satire so extreme and hilarious that its audience would absorb new information without realizing. He believed that when an unsuspecting reader (such as a conservative Catholic) read his dramatic arguments soaked in humor and satire, they might just learn something new. A study of Rius’s life and work contributes to knowledge of the cultural pulse of the period. His personal history, political leanings, and understanding of gender echo through his work and exemplify the emotions and national identity of the period. Carlos Monsiváis once declared, in a 2011 article (Montero Diaz, “Rius, El monero sabio”), that there have been three educational institutions in Mexico: Televisa, SEP, and Rius. Examining Rius’s work and life makes clear how the insights found upon his pages drew directly from his life and his position within the movement known as the Mexican Left.

Article

Sexuality and Black Magic in Brazil  

Kelly E. Hayes

Belief in the power of feitiçaria or black magic has both endured and continually changed over time in Brazil. However, black magic is a peculiar and protean thing. Rather than defining a specific set of ideas, practices, and objects, or a systematic body of knowledge, black magic is better understood as a type of discourse the social function of which is to stigmatize its referent as maleficent, immoral, or evil. Because of its negative connotations, black magic typically is a discourse of accusation rather than self-affirmation: People accuse others of practicing black magic rather than describing their own practices this way. Nevertheless, the dangerous potential attributed to black magic means that some people openly claim it as a source of power in certain circumstances. Focusing on the various intersections of black magic and sexuality in Brazilian history reveals aspects of social life and categories of persons that elite authorities, in the effort to civilize and reform Brazil, identified as problematic. Because these shifted over time, different constellations of black magic and sexuality emerge as especially salient in different historical periods. In the colonial period (1549–1822), women’s love magic troubled ecclesiastical authorities as the Catholic Church struggled to establish its patriarchal vision of social and moral order over an unruly colony. Under the empire (1822–1889), black magic was associated particularly with the threat of black sorcerers whose perceived promiscuity and primitivity threatened the civilized society that elites envisioned. During the first Republican period (1889–1930), public officials used black magic as a catchall designation for a broad range of popular spiritual practices deemed illicit by the state in its struggle against social degeneracy and other ills. The first few decades of the 20th century saw the consolidation of the Afro-Brazilian spirit entities Exu and Pombagira as distinctive apotheoses of black magic and sexuality in the Brazilian cultural imagination. Forged in the conjuncture of African and European traditions, these controversial yet extremely popular entities are said to work with both the “right hand” and the “left hand” and are called upon in situations marked by moral ambiguity. Their prominence in Candomblé and Umbanda is one reason that evangelical Protestant churches like the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (IURD) consider Afro-Brazilian religions to be instruments of the devil and target Afro-Brazilian religious practitioners, objects, and spaces in their campaigns of spiritual warfare. More recently, discourse about black magic among evangelical Christians has centered on the violence and sexual immorality associated with the drug trade that has flourished in many Brazilian cities. As a moral discourse that defines the licit by identifying the illicit, black magic is used in situations marked by struggles for social legitimacy and the access to resources and influence that such legitimacy enables. The protean nature of black magic means that it is endlessly adaptable to different social realities, from the struggles of Portuguese colonists in a new land to the urban violence associated with contemporary drug trafficking. And because questions of power are deeply embedded within the term, accusations of black magic seem to burgeon precisely in moments of social transformation when the status quo is in flux, centers of influence are being formed, and new patterns of social division or alignment are being established.

Article

Violence and Sex in the Work of Armando Bó and Isabel Sarli  

Victoria Ruétalo

Director-producer-actor Armando Bó made films featuring nude appearances by the voluptuous star Isabel “Coca” Sarli that challenged the social constraints that were taking hold in a more restrictive and violent Argentina. The period from the fall of Juan Domingo Perón in 1955 until the end of the “Guerra Sucia” or Dirty War in 1983 marked a volatile time in the history of Argentina, with ever-increasing acts of state violence. It coincided with a parallel in the film industry: the state began to intervene in production and exhibition practices through laws that limited what was seen on the screen, until censorship was formally legalized. The work of Bó and Sarli falls perfectly within the historical period of onscreen and offscreen violence. The enterprise began in 1956, and their final film was released in 1984 (after the end of the dictatorship and the death of the director). The couple produced films that suffered from the aggressive effects of censorship—through the cutting of specific scenes that displayed the female body—and reflected the growing violence in everyday life. Films like Carne (Flesh, 1968) and Furia infernal (Ardent summer, 1973) tell simple stories of seemingly weak females and aggressive macho males. A closer look at their narratives, however, reveals a more complex femininity and masculinity, one where violence begets violence. Throughout the twenty-seven films they made together, Bó and Sarli consistently revealed sexuality and gender issues at a time when these were invisible in Latin America.

Article

Women’s History and Movements in 20th-Century Brazil  

Maria Lygia Quartim de Moraes

In the early twentieth century, Brazil depended on coffee exports, its slave regime had just been abolished, and most of its inhabitants lived in the countryside. The Catholic Church exercised the moral direction of society, and White landowners virtually established the rules of sociability and controlled economic and political life. A woman’s social position was fundamentally determined according to their social class. Wealthy and White middle-class women had access to some form of education, and when they left the family home, it was to marry and raise a family, being completely dependent on their husbands, with no political rights, and only allowed to work upon marital authorization. With rapid urbanization, wretched working conditions, as either a domestic servant or a textile worker (the two female labor niches), worsened the lives of poor women in the city. Access to education, the struggle for labor rights, and the right to vote were the pillars of the long women’s emancipation process that was in progress. In 1964 a military coup plunged Brazil into a long dictatorship that only ended in 1985 with the return of democratic institutions and the election of a civil president. The conquest of democracy was made with the broad participation of the various women’s groups and movements, especially the feminist movements.

Article

Women and Commercial Sex in the Viceroyalty of New Spain  

Nicole von Germeten

Female occupational and economic choices help clarify understandings of colonial historic agency, especially in the lives of Mexican women who made their income as alcahuetas or “bawds.” These women hosted and managed other women in the marketing and selling of sex acts in the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Viceregal bawds manipulated both the sex lives of their clients and the paternalism of crown justice in hopes of exoneration in court. They walked a precarious legal tightrope, negotiating the fluctuating margins of legal procuring and the transition to more stringent laws against sex for sale. The examples presented here, drawn from contemporary archival documents, show that these women’s lives span most of New Spain’s history, ranging from 1570 to the independence era in the early 19th century. In the 16th century, bawdry resembled the clandestine personal mediation that was common and familiar in medieval and early modern Spain. Bawds working in the 1st century of Spanish rule in Mexico carefully defended their social respectability to contradict evidence that they solicited for clients in the street. Reputable hospitality featured prominently in the early 17th-century procuring, while indigenous-influenced sorcery and love magic dominated the understanding of 17th- and early 18th-century alcahuetas. Lastly, in the 19th century, profitable market exchange characterized professional brothel operations, granting bawds honorable status within their economic and occupational community. Bawds recorded in the archives demonstrate communication skills, entrepreneurialism, and a concern for reputation through all of these eras. These intelligent female survivors offer compelling representations of viceregal women who exercised their personal agency to forge their own economic prosperity.

Article

Women and the Catholic Church in Colonial Brazil  

Carole A. Myscofski

Women in colonial Brazil (1500–1822) were affected by the presence of the Portuguese Roman Catholic Church in nearly every dimension of their lives. The Catholic Church dominated the colonial religious and social world and, with the imperial government of Portugal, set and transmitted gender expectations for girls and women, regulated marriage and sexuality, and directed appropriate education and work lives. Even with the harshest restrictions, women were able to develop an independent sense of self and religious expression both within the Catholic Church and outside its reach. Native Brazilian women felt the impact of the new faith from the earliest days of conquest, when their opportunities for religious influence expanded among the early colonists and missionaries. After the 1550s, however, new rules for belief and behavior gradually replaced indigenous culture. Offering the Virgin Mary as the ideal woman, the Church expected that indigenous women convert to Catholicism, work for the colonists, and marry according to traditional canon law. Portuguese immigrant women also faced the constraints of the early modern gender roles, with chastity, modesty, and submission deemed essential to their feminine nature, and marriage, domestic labor, and childcare their fate. Enslaved African women were compelled to accept Catholic teachings alongside the expectations of servile work and marginalization in colonial society. For each segment of colonial society, religious rules barely acknowledged the real abuses that afflicted women through the personal and sexual domination of colonial men, and women found little consolation in the ideals set for elite women. Religion itself presented women with opportunities for personal development, and women found spiritual expression through votive prayers, cloistered convents, membership in religious brotherhoods, and covert religious and magical practices. European women used magical rites in defiance of Catholic teachings, while indigenous women preserved elements of their own healing traditions, and African women and their descendants created charms and celebrations that secured their separate religious identity.

Article

Women, Drugs, and Violence in Sinaloa  

Elaine Carey and Patricia Figueroa

As the United States approaches the fiftieth anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s war on drugs and Mexico is going through the second decade of its war on drugs, the costs and ever-escalating violence are difficult to ignore. Despite the arrests, extraditions, and successful prosecutions of leaders of drug trafficking organizations (DTOs), the trillion dollars that have been spent in the United States and Mexico have done little to undermine the drug demand in the United States or protect Mexican citizens from increasing violence. With former Mexican president Felipe Calderon’s declaration of his own drug war, women have borne the increasing brunt of that violence. Certain women benefit from the lucrative drug trade due to their families’ involvement. Throughout the 20th century, women developed DTOs, but women have always had to fear violence from male competitors and law enforcement. Yet the majority of women who experience the drug trade experience it as users and victims. DTOs and their collaborators among the politicians and the police have acted with impunity. While legitimate actors such as police and politicians claim their support for security measures to protect women and children, these same actors have provided little empathy and support for victims. Women are both combatants in the drug trade and its collateral damage. Their experience with impunity combined with a lack of empathy for the countless victims on both sides of the border has led to a growing sense of hopeless along with growing resistance. Keyword: drug-trafficking

Article

Women Filmmakers in Argentina  

Ana Forcinito

This article offers an overview of some of the most important Argentine women filmmakers along with some tendencies that could serve to organize four decades of films, shorts, and documentaries. The article also examines some of the main paths that women filmmakers have taken in their revision and transformation of the relationship between the visual/aural dimension of cinematographic language and the patriarchal regime of the image and the voice. The films discussed in this chapter challenge the still-dominant masculine visual regime through aesthetic projects that reveal the worlds made invisible and erased by marginalization, authoritarianism, violence, sexism, homophobia, abjection, racism, inequality, discrimination, and impunity. Feminism is undoubtedly a vital framework for analyzing the history of women filmmakers in ArgentiIt appears sometimes at the center of the audiovisual project and, other times, outside the frame. This article explores the intersections among different aesthetic concerns, and in particular attempts to show that the discussion of women filmmakers in Argentina should not be limited to only two or three names but should include a vast number of women filmmakers and their innovative visions. From the first decades of the Twentieth century to the present, Argentine women filmmakers have taken different paths in their revision and transformation of the relation between the visual/aural dimension of cinematographic language and the patriarchal regime of the image and the voice. The feminist dimension of some of their films has challenged masculine and heteronormative norms through aesthetic projects that revealed what remained invisible and erased by authoritarianism, violence, sexism, homophobia, abjection, racism, inequality, discrimination, and impunity. Feminism—expressed in different waves of the feminist movement and with different degrees of intersectionality— is undoubtedly a vital framework for analyzing the history of women filmmakers in Argentina. It has framed the aesthetic concerns and the innovative visions women filmmakers have been proposing about the domestic, the intimate, and the political.

Article

Women in Mexican Politics since 1953  

Sonia Hernández

Since the founding of the Mexican republic, women have been politically engaged in their respective communities. The creation of a modern nation-state during the last decades of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century marked an increase in women’s formal and informal political participation in the country. During the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and particularly in the post-revolutionary period, Mexican women took a much more active role in engaging the state, formed political alliances and organizations, pressed for labor and political rights, and worked collectively and individually to secure suffrage. Women have been part of an array of political parties and have played a key role in the slow and uneven process of democratization in Mexico. In and outside the bounds of formal political parties, and in the greater sphere of electoral politics, women participated in multiple ways in the post-1953 period. Even during the years when women lacked the right to vote, they were engaged politically in the local, regional, national, and international spheres. They did so by participating in all political parties, and participated in voting drives, actively promoted issues that concerned them, and pushed for gender equity in the greater electoral process. Despite lacking suffrage, women in Mexico were engaged citizens in the broadest sense of the word. By the eve of the 21st century, women had served in almost all municipal, state, and government positions and had also competed for the highest office in the land. Yet the limits in electoral reform legislation, unequal and uneven economic development, gender and sexual violence, and continued distrust of the nation’s political system, as well as widespread insecurity caused by a violent drug war that was being strengthened by the influx of US weapons, remained major challenges to women’s continued participation on the country’s long road to democratization.

Article

The Women of Guadalajara in Mexico’s History  

María Teresa Fernández Aceves

From the War of Independence until the recognition of female suffrage in Mexico in 1953, the women of Guadalajara witnessed different forms of activism that touched upon national and local issues, causing them to take to the streets in order to defend their families, their neighborhoods, and their communities: their political and religious ideals. Their active participation upended traditional notions of femininity within the Catholic Church and the liberal state of the 19th century, as well as the postrevolutionary state (1920–1940). The tasks they undertook over this lengthy period of time were highly diversified and encompassed welfare, education, war, politics, religion, and social endeavors.

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Women, Politics, and Media in Uruguay, 1900–1950  

Christine Ehrick

In the first half of the 20th century, Uruguay was a relatively educated, democratic, and politically progressive South American country, and women there used old and new media for professional and political ends. Radical, Catholic, and liberal feminist women all utilized print media to promote their views and build support for their respective causes in publications aimed at both female and general audiences. Anarchist feminist María Collazo, for example, edited an important publication, La Batalla, from 1915 to approximately 1927. By the late 1920s, radio was an emerging mass medium, and women activists, journalists, and others sought to make their voices heard, literally and figuratively, on its airwaves. Starting in 1935, those airwaves included Radio Femenina, the first all-woman format radio station in the Western Hemisphere. One of the voices heard on Radio Femenina was Dra. Paulina Luisi, Uruguay’s leading feminist activist, who became a powerful voice of both the Socialist Party and the politics of the Popular Front in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

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Working Women in the Mexican Revolution  

Susie S. Porter

From la Adelita to the suffragette, from la chica moderna to the factory girl dressed in red shirt and black skirt—the colors of the anarchist—women’s mobilization in the midst of Mexican Revolution was, to a large degree, rooted in their workforce participation. The evolution of gendered occupational segregation of the workforce, sex-typing of occupations, and gendered wage differentials marked women’s experiences and the way they organized to take control of their lives and to shape working conditions and politics. While women’s employment nationwide contracted during the period 1890–1930, it was nevertheless a moment of significant cultural change in the recognition of women’s work outside of the home. Women shifted public debates over their right to work and mobilized around the issues of maternity leave, equal pay for equal work, and respect for seniority. Across the workforce, women fought for the application of the rights afforded by the Mexican Constitution (1917) and then, in the 1930s, by federal labor law. By the fact of their work and because of their activism, women shifted the conversation on the rights of women—single or married, mothers or not, and regardless of personal beliefs or sexual morality—to dignity at work and the right to combine a life of work with other activities that informed their lives and fulfilled their passions.