Before the Revolution: Women's Rights and Right-wing Politics in Nicaragua, 1821-1979

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Penn State Press, 2011 - Social Science - 224 pages
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Those who survived the brutal dictatorship of the Somoza family have tended to portray the rise of the women's movement and feminist activism as part of the overall story of the anti-Somoza resistance. But this mythic depiction of heroic struggle conceals a much more complicated history, which Victoria Gonz lez-Rivera unravels in this book. As early as 1837, she shows, some Nicaraguan women expressed interest in eliminating the tyranny of male domination, and this interest grew into full-fledged campaigns for female suffrage and access to education by the 1880s. By the 1920s a feminist movement emerged among urban, middle-class women and lasted for two more decades until it was eclipsed in the 1950s by a nonfeminist movement of mainly Catholic, urban, middle-class and working-class women who supported the liberal, populist, patron-clientelistic regime of the Somozas in return for the right to vote and various economic, educational, and political opportunities. Counterintuitively, it was actually the Somozas who encouraged the participation of women in the public sphere (as long as they remained loyal Somocistas), whereas their opponents, the Sandinistas and Conservatives, often appealed to women through their maternal identity. What emerges from this fine-grained analysis is a picture of a much more complex political landscape than that portrayed by the simplifying myths of current Nicaraguan historiography, and we can now see why and how the Somoza dictatorship did not endure by dint of fear and compulsion alone.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Chapter 1 Feminism Before Somoza
22
Chapter 2 From Feminism to Partisan Suffregist Politics
38
Chapter 3 The Aftermath of Womens Suffrage
59
Chapter 4 Somocista Womens Lives
85
Chapter 5 The Activism and Legacy of Nicolasa Sevilla
113
Illustrations
127
Chapter 6 Sex and Somocismo
135
Conclusion
171
Union de Mujeres Americanas UMA Founding Members
177
Central Womens Committee Members
179
Notes
181
Selected Bibliography
205
Index
217
Back Cover
225
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About the author (2011)

Victoria Gonz&ález-Rivera is Assistant Professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at San Diego State University. She is the co-editor, with Karen Kampwirth, of Radical Women in Latin America: Left and Right (Penn State, 2001).

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