Reception: July 31, 2020
Acceptance: August 3, 2020
2020 marks 65 years since the first time that Mexican women officially participated in federal elections, in the midterm elections of July 1955, after the 1953 decree. In the succinct and unmissable text “Democracy and gender. History of the public debate around women's suffrage in Mexico ”(available at https://www.ine.mx/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/cuaderno_40.pdf), Dr. Gabriela Cano reviews the main milestones that led to to female suffrage, especially between 1917 and 1953. Said title, part of the Project of Notebooks for the Disclosure of Democratic Culture of the National Electoral Institute, was presented at the Guadalajara International Book Fair in 2019, an act that allowed us to coincide.
The discussion revolved around the story of how it was possible for women to vote and be voted in Mexico, a historical chapter that we seem to take for granted. Likewise, I took the opportunity to talk with Dr. Cano about the feminist implications of such inclusion, the visibility of certain activists and their recent foray into the viral world of cybernetic memes. A bridge that I wish to build in this presentation is one that accounts for the transition between feminine lives and the claims that those of the past championed with the struggles that contemporary ones join. Something that seems obvious and overwhelming to me is how, in the current socio-political climate, advances and tensions of the feminist and women's movements continue to occur, painting the streets of the country (and a few monuments) green and purple while demanding bodily autonomy, the cessation of gender violence and femicides, a few days before being forced to stay at home during the day of healthy distance in times of covid-19.
The same fil 2019 was different from other years. Green scarves paraded down the aisles on collars, dolls, and backpacks, provided by the unam in one of the first events of the Fair; and only one day after this interview was organized the performance of Chilean origin "A rapist on your way" inside the enclosure. The rhythm of the organized, frenetic and visible movement has multiple markers on its timeline, and one of them is the achievement of the female vote, without a doubt. When women's suffrage was achieved, the country seemed to agree to recognize Mexican women as subjects of law, but it did so with limitations, inequalities that persist to this day. Knowing and analyzing the process that led to this advancement of democracy and paved the way towards gender parity is not only interesting, but a mandatory stop in self-taught and academic feminist training, usually relegated and not included in the Official History. History is not distant, immobile, with a single interpretation. The State (and the victors, as the adage goes) writes it from their position and in accordance with their interests, repeated and regurgitated by textbooks that speak of heroes, but seldom about female work that is often kept anonymous.
Post-revolutionary history has a tendency to name exceptional women, even to place their names in gold letters in parliamentary precincts, leaving aside those who fought from domestic trenches and with lesser-known surnames, which shows that the limited disparate visibility of suffragettes Mexicans is a matter of privilege. Dr. Cano emphasizes the importance of the female archive, the preservation of materials that account for the lives of women involved in the processes - in this case democratic - and their dissemination and academic accessibility. He gives the magazine an example Modern woman (1915-1918), founded by Hermila Galindo, of which there seem to be few misplaced and possibly undervalued copies.
Gabriela Cano's work provides names and certainties in the search for the ancestors who gave us a Homeland (Matria?), And the formation of the Mexican Feminist Pantheon. As he expresses, “history gives us identity and defines us”, beyond the possible militancies and political positions. Texts such as the one discussed contribute to recognizing the importance of female resistance, dissidents, minorities, and if I may also insist on themes centered on the lives of women. Another detail that I rescue from the talk presented here is that feminism is so broad that there are room for many visions and voices within - not always from the Mexican capital - and that disputes, antagonisms, and discrepancies do not necessarily respond to female inability to be sororas or to work together, but to the nature of the political task and the interactions that take place there.
In her master's thesis, Rosario Castellanos wrote that “the essence of femininity lies fundamentally in negative aspects: the weakness of the body, the clumsiness of the mind, in short, the inability to work. Women are women because they cannot do this or that, or anything beyond ”(Castellanos, 2005: 81); and we could extrapolate it to the democratic arena. In pre-voting times, women were classified as irrational, overly sentimental and more likely to be influenced by the clergy than men, as if conservatism were generic. Even the revolutionary idiosyncrasy sought that women receive religious training, as a disciplinary tool and with a view to introjecting principles of a supposedly firm morality that would shape their behaviors and customs. I question whether this social construction has changed, since the State and the social structure in general continue to restrict female experiences and decisions, both intimate and public.
In 1953, Mexican law recognized women as citizens, after feminist efforts and male allies. The hope of their descendants is that 65 more years are not required for the legalization of a range of rights and freedoms that we continue to demand throughout the national territory: deciding on our own bodies, digital privacy, marrying who we love, forming families that we want. The street slogan honors the memory of the feminist efforts of yesteryear and shows us the path that still remains in the struggle: “not from the State, nor from the Church, nor from the husband, nor from the employer; my body is mine and mine alone, and the decision alone is mine ”.
Cano, Gabriela (2009). “Inocultables realidades del deseo. Amelio Robles, masculinidad (transgénero) en la Revolución mexicana”, en Gabriela Cano, Mary K. Vaughan y Jocelyn Olcott (ed.), Género, poder y política en el México posrevolucionario. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica / uam-Iztapalapa, pp. 61-90.
Castellanos, Rosario (2005). Sobre cultura femenina. México: Fondo de Cultura Económica.
Gabriela Cano He obtained a doctorate in History from the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the National Autonomous University of Mexico in 1996, where he also completed a master's and a bachelor's degree in the same discipline. She currently works as a researcher and professor at El Colegio de México. Her research has focused on the history of women and sexual diversity in Mexico during the Porfirian, revolutionary, and post-revolutionary periods. The conceptual axis of her research work is gender analysis.
Arcelia E. Paz Padilla She has a degree in Psychology (uabc), former fellow of the Peace Scholarship Program (Monash University), Master in Environmental Health (University of Guadalajara). Former Cathedral of the Faculty of Administrative and Social Sciences (uabc). PhD student in Social Sciences (ciesas West). Lines of interest: dissident sexualities, lesbianism, feminism, urban mobility, social determinants of health.