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date: 05 March 2021

Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses gender and sexuality during the national period and the shift from women's history to the study of the social construction of both femininity and masculinity and of various forms of sexuality. It argues that this has problematized “the notion of universalized female oppression,” a trend in line with the general historiographical emphasis on individual and collective agency since the 1980s. Gender here is both a topic and a category of analysis. The discussion thus sheds much light on other aspects of—in this case, national—society, such as notions of nationality and citizenship, the nature of the modern state and law, populism, and revolutionary and feminist politics.

Keywords: women's history, femininity, masculinity, female oppression, historiography, national society

Now is an ideal moment to reflect upon the accomplishments and future challenges of Latin American gender and sexuality history since 1810. Although it has been more noticeable since the late 1970s, there has always been an ethnographic and historical tradition of gender and sexuality studies within the region. One only has to glance at the voluminous bibliography of pre-1977 works on Latin American women compiled by Meri Knaster and Lynn Stoner's subsequent 1988 bibliography to demonstrate the long-standing interest.1

Theories regarding gender and sexuality have developed principally in Europe and the United States, but Latin America has always been at the forefront of challenging and/or reaffirming notions that have been formulated by researchers working on other parts of the world. That does not mean that gender and sexuality have had a different historical evolution in Latin America, or that they necessarily have different meanings. Culture plays an important role in the development of gender and sex roles, and so do other factors such as religion, capitalism, the nature of the state, race and ethnic relations, colonialism, and law. Latin America has been more willing than other postcolonial regions to recognize the intersections of European, Indigenous, and African cultures in ways that were not initially considered central to early European and U.S. gender studies. Latin American gender and sexuality studies also have not always been affected by the demands of U.S. and Western European sexual politics. Equally important, even when similar patterns have been observed in Latin America, Europe, and the United States, the timing and meanings have often been different. The result has been fresh insights that, in the twenty-first century, should position the history of Latin American gender and sexuality at the center of theoretical and case studies rather than at the margins. This (p. 368) has been shown clearly in the edited volume of William French and Katherine Bliss, where the editors and contributors show the tremendous impact that both gender and sexuality theories have had on Latin American history.2 This essay focuses on a series of questions that have been addressed in modern Latin American history and interdisciplinary studies and points out the universality, rather than the particularity, of their contributions. It will also raise some questions for future research.

One of the thorniest questions posed by the rise of women's history and gender studies has been the centrality of male oppression in proposing definitions of gender and sexuality and how they can be examined historically. After all, if the sexual and social relations between men and women have no patterns of change as well as continuity over time, then historians would have great difficulty historicizing this experience. At the same time, however, we need to understand the implications of historicizing the history of sexuality and gender studies generally, particularly their implications and relationship to women's studies.

Early proponents of women's studies focused almost exclusively on the power battles between men and women. While forcing us to confront inequality as the central endeavor of the field, gendered subordination sometimes obscured the complex patterns of gender relations among people of the same sex as well as between men and women. In 1974 Sherry Ortner published a pathbreaking essay, one that has become part of the canonical literature of anthropological and women's studies. It was titled “Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?” and in it Ortner argued that the “secondary status of women in society is one of the true universals, a pancultural fact.”3 The ubiquitousness of female subordination, argued Ortner, meant that the differences separating the experiences of women across time and space were shaped less by cultural practices and more by differences essentialized by concepts of nature. She argued carefully that this was not simply the result of biological determinism. Instead women had become “a symbol of something that every culture devalues, something that every culture defines as being of a lower order of existence than itself … and that is ‘nature’ in the most generalized sense.” Men, in contrast, were closer to culture, which she defined as “human consciousness and its products.”4

The resulting gender differences were internalized and accepted by both women and men. She then gave examples of many cultures where this observation was apparent to her, and concluded that no societies had been either egalitarian or matrifocal, and that concepts of ritual pollution had aided the development of women's inferior status.

In this essay, Ortner contributed to the idea of pancultural female subordination by emphasizing that women socialized themselves to accept their inferiority, an argument expressed in class terms by Brazilian pedagogue Paulo Freire in his 1970 classic Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire argued that education could lead to the liberation of the poor from their oppression, both male and female, whereas Ortner argued that for women this could not be accomplished without structural change, an argument that was particularly Latin American, as education had always been seen as the road to civilizing the indigenous population.5

(p. 369) At the same time, however, Latin American gender specialists have made us painfully aware of how, even during revolutionary movements that present structural changes, gender oppression has impeded not only the advancement of women but also that of the larger society. This inquiry began with feminist analysis of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, which espoused liberation for all, and even promoted an antipatriarchal 1975 family law, but never really shared power with women. More recent works on political and land reform have shown systemic resistance to power sharing with women, no matter what the law or political ideology of the government in power. Among the few successful gender-focused strategies utilized by women to gain access to power have been the emphasis on women's rights through motherhood and the use of community-based political movements to advance women's rights. These are not typical of Western European countries, and Latin American patterns relate to factors such as an often unsympathetic left, the influence of Catholic ideology, and the role of conservative women in these societies. Furthermore, recent works on Mexico during and after the 1910 Revolution, particularly those of Jocelyn Olcott and the edited collection by Olcott, Mary Kay Vaughn, and Gabriela Cano, show contradictory records of gendered and sexual success for revolutionary women and men.6

In the long run, I think that Freire and the early advocates of education had the more accurate perception of how people could free themselves in both sexual and class terms, and this has been borne out by early as well as recent studies. These have shown, among other things, that declining reproductive rates throughout the world are linked to female education and employment. Furthermore, state politics, rather than religious values, masculine opposition, or feminist efforts, can be catalysts promoting greater gender equity. Other studies show how women have broken the boundaries of labor segmentation by gender, but not always by following the course chosen by male laborers working through labor unions. The absence of early urban industrialization in many countries, the impact of female-headed households, and local customs emphasizing female morality have all had their impact, impacts that have changed significantly over time.7

Many decades have passed since Ortner published her essay, and historians have uncovered a wealth of information about women, gender relations, and sexuality, much of which shows the spirit and agency of some women who learned how to defeat or adapt to the Latin American ideological and political system, while others focused on changing them. Recent works reaffirm that there have indeed been patterns of female inequality in Latin America, but they also suggest that men have their own hierarchies of inequality, which should help us question whether there is real distance between nature and culture as Ortner defined it. This has meant that women's studies specialists have been confronted with the need to incorporate men and masculinity into Joan Scott's dictum that gender, like class, should be a category of analysis. The study of social movements since the end of dictatorship in many Latin American countries after 1980 reveals a growing interdependency between female activists and their male relatives and community leaders.8

The desire to historicize gender and sexuality studies in Latin America has pushed the field in a number of directions, all of which further complicate the (p. 370) notion of universalized female oppression. It has also brought a new focus of masculinity studies to Latin America, with fresh insights on the military, the working classes, and the state's relationship to private patriarchy.

Before the advent of cultural and women's studies, Latin American historians viewed the nineteenth-century state as relatively weak due to the frequency of coups and political instability, while Latin American men loomed larger than life through the portrayal of dictators and military men. The new focus on the social aspects of state formation, however, paints another picture, this one of states that had relatively consistent attitudes towards race, class, and sexuality with strong roots in colonial attitudes and of progressive men and women who had to modernize notions of gender and sexual relationships in order to construct the new state. In this way, some male politicians recognized the need to modernize social relations through legal reform, and often they enacted legislation without feminist influence, and their actions, while improving the status of women, maintained male privileges related to sexuality and patria potestad, the legal control and custody of children. Jeffrey Shumway's book on Argentina just after independence focuses on the cleavages between parents and children, not just men and women, as a way to debate the modernization of the family and the state. Similarly, Katherine Sloane examined abduction cases among indigenous couples throughout nineteenth-century Oaxaca, Mexico, to explain how a nonindigenous custom became a common practice to empower children, particularly girls, and help them force parents to accept their sexual freedom.9 The pace and timing of these reforms varied considerably from one country to another, and moments of reformist fervor usually resulted in a series of changes including the granting of divorce, civil marriage, and the limitation of male patriarchy over wives who worked outside the home. Interestingly, this could often be accomplished more easily during authoritarian regimes. Examples of this include the passage of female suffrage under several Latin American dictators and the promulgation of divorce during the Peronist years in Argentina. In this way, Latin America, once seen as the bastion of absolute patriarchy, now appears to have been inhabited by men who had to resolve conflicting notions of both masculinity and state practices.

The theory of a more coherent nation-state emerging in the nineteenth century contradicted other traditional historiographical emphases on the enduring political power of the Catholic Church over women in Latin America. How could the state challenge church power at such an early moment? Instead of looking at formal accords between church and state, gender scholars have looked at how marriage served as an index of liberal change. Studies of marital conflict as well as marital choice after independence have uncovered a relatively greater role of secular authority in the lives of married couples, including a relatively greater autonomy for young couples than before independence. The state exerted itself in other ways, ranging from civil marriage and separation to the use of police powers to punish men and women for sexual behaviors that the church had heretofore regulated. Furthermore, some sexual behaviors such as homosexuality, bestiality, and incest were excluded from the list of sexual crimes in postindependence penal legislation. The church continued to have (p. 371) a moral authority in Latin American communities, but it was the state that increasingly attempted to regulate or ignore sexual behavior.10

From the late nineteenth century onward, the evolving nation state utilized technologies such as public health and direct challenges to church authority, and through civil marriage, divorce, and revised penal codes replaced the church as the official arbiter of sexual practices. The results were new codes for appropriate masculinity and femininity, with decriminalization of sodomy except with minors and greater protection of male sexual freedom. Whereas civil laws could quickly deny married women custody of their children for an act of adultery, men had to be proven to have long-standing and notorious affairs or to be financially irresponsible, and even then it was difficult to remove their custody rights. Females remained within the domain of moral standards, especially married women, but their wombs became targets of anti—infant mortality campaigns. Whereas initial reforms designed to shape new sexual norms for women were slow to develop, nation-states had to incorporate the female and her reproductive potential into the body politic as well as delineate the powers of men. It soon became clear that governments were not willing to moderate male sexual privilege, while they might be willing to attenuate male gender rights. Traditional discrimination against married women who had sex outside of marriage remained, while men could not be forced to declare that they were fathers of out-of-wedlock children. The rape of a prostitute was less of a crime than the rape of a respectable woman, and most rape crimes were difficult to prosecute except, in some countries with high proportions of mestizo and multiracial inhabitants, for deflowering virgins. Arlene Díaz shows this for Venezuela.11

Male gender rights, on the other hand, were open to reform, but only when men wanted to limit their personal and familial power for the sake of the nation. The rise of universal state education and mandatory military service, as well as reforms of the civil code that allowed married women to work and keep their own wages, directly challenged patriarchal rights to select occupations for their family and decide whether wives should work or not. Public health campaigns against infant mortality did not include provisions to allow male heads of households to contradict medical advice. And violence toward female members of the household came under scrutiny in the modern nation-state, but, until recently, with great difficulty.12

What about women who thwarted private and public patriarchal plans for women? The loosening of patriarchal control with the growth of the medicalized state provides an opportunity to explore this topic. Recent works on the history of female prostitution in Latin America, for example, argue that the presence of sex workers in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Latin American cities is not simply evidence of the “world's oldest profession,” but also the product of changes in the world economy, colonialism, racism, public health, the emerging state, and familial pressures. Whether looking at Rio; Ponce and San Juan, Puerto Rico; Guatemala City; Mexico City; or Buenos Aires, male oppression has been an insufficient explanation for legal and clandestine prostitution, because other local and international factors influenced the regulation of prostitution, as did the resistant behavior of female sex workers and the willingness of male family members to insist on female (p. 372) sexual commerce as a female familial obligation. At the same time, many of the women studied did not always appear to be particularly willing to accept long-term stigmatization as sex workers, and instead used commercial sex as a part-time survival strategy to help support family members as well as themselves. Some actually expressed pleasure and a kind of independence that horrified moral reformers. The works have also shown the complexity of state-driven campaigns to promote public health, and demonstrate that ideas about contagion and genetic traits could not escape the prejudices of medical and religious reformers, who often believed that prostitutes were beyond rehabilitation and needed to suffer other stigmas such as menial jobs to redeem themselves within the community.13

Gender and sexuality studies have also influenced mid-twentieth-century Latin American historiography. The strong Latin American emphasis on the state has perhaps been its most fruitful contribution to debates on the nature of gender and sexual oppression. Historians of feminism have been quick to see how Latin American feminists relied on the liberal and revolutionary states, despite all of their problems, to restructure patriarchy through civil code reforms. Unlike in the United States, where there was a maze of individual state laws and common legal practices related to the division of power and responsibility within the family combined with feminist reluctance to view the state as an ally, reformers in code law countries viewed national civil codes and family law reforms as the ideal way to renegotiate patriarchy. Indeed, many civil code reforms were enacted without a strong feminist influence, often in response to changing economic and political realities. Some of the most effective changes have resulted from antifeminist regimes such as the Peronist government in Argentina in the 1940s and the Vargas government in Brazil. Both leaders pushed through female suffrage, although all voting was suppressed in Brazil soon after the legislation was passed.14

The history of feminism paralleled the history of the Latin American welfare states that began as charitable efforts that expanded in the 1930s, often in surprising ways. Whereas the study of the welfare state in Europe and the United States has engaged many women's history scholars in the last few years, social historians of Latin America have always felt far more comfortable thinking about the role of the state, although we recognized the significance of the welfare state much later than U.S. and European historians. Initially, studies of welfare programs ignored gender as a central category, but soon the discussion of women and children redirected the debate. And soon it became clear that women, both conservative and progressive, were deeply involved in the regulation of welfare. This was clearly seen in a special issue of The Americas, published in 2001 and devoted to the Latin American welfare state, in which all of the contributions discussed the gendered nature of reform movements, and in Christine Ehrick's 2005 work on Uruguay.15

What are the relationships between this public patriarchy and the private form that was supposed to be the basis of female oppression? An early comparison of Catholic Latin America with the Muslim Middle East by Nadia Haggag Youssef suggested strong conflicts between the desire of the Latin American state to educate women and have them participate in the public world of work, and the desire of (p. 373) husbands and fathers to determine the fate of the women and children in the family. This observation has been reaffirmed in many studies. Motherist public health campaigns, forced labor laws that affected women, campaigns to create bourgeois family norms as part of the modernizing state, all have limited the authority of the lower-class male within the family while empowering as well as controlling women.16

In this new view of the state, male sexual privileges were preserved, but in exchange poor men lost many patriarchal rights and privileges compared to their rich counterparts. From the more public question of whether a woman received her citizenship through her husband, father, or place of birth (in this case, prior to World War I more Latin American countries granted women social citizenship rights based on place of birth than their European or U.S. counterparts) to the more private question of whether a husband could control the education of his children, the profession of his wife, and children whose age of majority was lower than ever before, public authorities attacked, shaped, but ultimately never controlled private gender relations.17

Gradually we are learning how these debates evolved, and in what context. We know, for example, that laws protected men from being forced to declare paternity, but there has been little research on the phenomenon of women refusing to acknowledge maternity, something that I have found throughout Argentina in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Illegitimacy statistics need to be studied from the perspective of the parents as well as the children. We know that incest laws, in some cases, were never enacted, and yet there is clear evidence of social disapproval of incest when a man was taken to court. How did social disapproval mediate family relations? The accumulation of this information should lead to new insights regarding nation building in Latin America, one that will reshape our interest in code laws, and perhaps place political events such as gradualist slave emancipation laws, almost always phrased as “Law of the Free Womb,” in new contexts.

How have men reacted to the changing status of women in society? Traditional Latin American stereotypes of the machista man incapable of change have fallen by the wayside. Anthropologists Roger Lancaster, Joseph Carrier, Stephen O. Murray, and others have attacked the canonical literature by studying the many diverse patterns of hetero- and homosexuality in Latin America and linked them specifically to a more multidimensional definition of masculinity. This work has important consequences for the study of female sexual oppression, since it argues that men have a more contingent masculine identity, part of which needs to be reaffirmed by other men, and takes on sexual meanings unrelated to heterosexuality. Whereas traditional gender studies often posited that women were central to the definition of male sexuality, this hypothesis needs reexamination. Similarly, the relationship of men to lesbian women is very unclear and understudied, partly because of the absence of a tradition of women keeping diaries and partly due to legal frameworks that defined masculine sexual freedom without commenting on female sexual privilege.

Other anthropologists have reexamined heterosexual masculine values. Eduardo Archetti has explored the melding of European and Latin American masculinities in Argentina and linked it to a notion of hybridity, one that implicitly has transformative (p. 374) aspects, while Matthew Guttman reaffirmed this by studying the impact of economic crises in a lower-class Mexico City suburb and found that fathering has taken on new nuances as men are more willing to share the burden of household responsibilities.18

Gender and sexuality historians have made important contributions to this question as well. Susan Besse's essay on wife killing and her book on the modernization of patriarchy in Brazil both analyze state campaigns in early-twentieth-century Brazil to limit male rights associated with patriarchy and reproductive sex and place the power of the state above the rights of men.19 Asunción Lavrin's work on the feminists of the Southern Cone clearly delineates the efforts to limit male patriarchs as a goal not only of feminists but also of male reformers cognizant of the need to reform patriarchy as part of the modernization process, something that Lynn Stoner also pointed out in her work on Cuban feminism.20 My own work on child custody cases in late-nineteenth-century Argentina, however, reveals a judicial reluctance to take rights of custody, or patria potestad, away from men unless absolutely necessary. Although they argued against a popular interpretation that patria potestad was a biological right of fatherhood and championed the view that it was a legal privilege, judges almost always favored fathers over mothers in these battles.21 This observation reinforces Besse's view that modernization of patriarchy did not always result in clear benefits for women, a view that has been expressed in recent work on women, patriarchy, and the Mexican Revolution.

Nevertheless, the work on state and private patriarchy has fundamentally changed our perception of how patriarchy operates and what its relationship with the state entails. It posits that even though men were supposed to be the kings of the household, just as they had been in the colonial period, new forces were at work reshaping appropriate notions of fathering, being a husband and a provider. Men often protested these changes, but in many countries with a clear vision of the function of the modern nation-state, the patriarchal prerogatives of poor men were consistently eroded.

Another way that male privileges were contested within the family was through the workplace. At the same time that protective labor legislation increasingly limited female access to the workplace for the sake of ensuring the reproductive capacity of women, men were encouraged to marry, live more stable lives, and adopt bourgeois norms of sobriety and responsibility. Thomas Klubock's study of workers in the El Teniente copper mine in the first half of the twentieth century is premised on the belief that “the process of class formation in the copper mines must be understood as a ‘gendered’ process in which formal gender ideologies and informal norms, values, and practices surrounding sexuality shaped working-class structures of feeling and political consciousness.” In so doing, he supports the contentions of Donna Haraway and Judith Butler that the social construction of sexuality is at the root of the history of gender.22

In the U.S.-run Chilean copper mines, management sought to stabilize the transient and often unmarried male labor force and eliminate the impact of independent single women who often worked near the mines in bars and bordellos. This resulted in a higher rate of marriage, and women dependent upon the male (p. 375) salary and access to the company store. While that was useful to the company during moments of boom, this strategy led to women becoming ardent strike supporters during lean times. Karin Rosemblatt has extended this analysis of the sex and gender components of Chilean politics to argue that in the 1930s and 1940s they shaped state practices and relations between popular classes and political and economic elites during the popular-front era.23 Based upon a reproductive vision of a healthy and united working-class family, many political groups of the time supported temperance movements to control male drinking, make men more responsible breadwinners, and thereby enhance national productivity as well.

I could go on and list many other worthy books and articles that contemplate these questions, but rather than enumerate them all, I would like to go back to the original issue. If we can no longer say that “female is to male as nature is to culture,” how do we describe the nature of gender relations and its relationship to sexuality? Originally we perceived gender as those attributes or qualities assigned to males and females by a particular culture and always in the context of female oppression, whereas sex attributes were genetically coded and immutable. Whether it was gender-or sex-related, men controlled female destiny. Historically, this view has been challenged both by historicizing sexuality and by introducing other factors that have helped shape the destinies of women and men. Now we know that patterns of sexuality can be as easily affected by political, social, and economic currents as gender relations. Furthermore, male sexuality is defined in part by relations with other men, just as women's sexuality is defined in part by same-sex relations. Relations between men and women are linked by a series of factors, often mutating and changing over time, and the interactions between men and women delineate the consequences of both sex and gender relations. Thus, if I had to choose a metaphor, I would define male-female relations to be like the double helix of DNA. Interrelated, connected, and sometimes appearing farther apart rather than close together, nevertheless their fates are inexorably intertwined. Oppression may be a common characteristic of male-female relations, but there are other spaces that men and women inhabit, and these must be included in the process. The bridges between male and females appears to be the most distant between patriarchal males and lesbian females, but cross-dressers, transvestites, and men who view themselves as heterosexual but who have sex with other men appear to be able to cross the bridges from time to time. By learning the various codes, hopefully we will gradually uncover the diverse patterns that have affected the lives of women and men in Latin America.


(1.) Meri Knaster, Women in Spanish America: An Annotated Bibliography from Pre-Conquest to Contemporary Times (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1977); K. Lynn Stoner, Latinas of the Americas: A Source Book (New York: Garland, 1989). It is hoped that there will be similar publications for men and masculinity studies. Currently there is, however, an online bibliography of studies on sex and sexuality in Latin America at http://library.stanford. edu/depts/hasrg/latinam/balder.html (accessed May 22, 2010) as well as a fine bibliography of literary works related to gay literature compiled by David Foster: David William Foster, Latin American Writers on Gay and Lesbian Themes; A Bio-Critical Sourcebook (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994).

(2.) William E. French and Katherine Elaine Bliss, eds., Gender, Sexuality, and Power in Latin America since Independence (Lanham, Md.: Rowan & Littlefield, 2007).

(3.) Sherry B. Ortner, “Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?” in Woman, Culture, and Society, ed. Michelle Zimbalist Rosaldo and Louise Lamphere (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1974), 67.

(4.) ibid., 73.

(5.) Paulo Freire, trans. Myra Bergman Ramos, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York: Seabury Press, 1970). I would like to thank Rebecca Haidt for help with this point.

(6.) Lynn Stoner provided the history of the feminist movement before the revolution in K. Lynn Stoner, From the House to the Streets: The Cuban Woman's Movement for Legal Reform, 1898–1940 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1991). Since the revolution, see Lois M. Smith, Sex and Revolution: Women in Socialist Cuba (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996); Margaret Randall, Cuban Women Now: Interviews with Cuban Women (Toronto: Women's Press, 1974); and her study of Nicaragua, “Gathering Rage: The Failure of Twentieth-Century Revolutions to Develop a Feminist Agenda, the Case of Nicaragua,” in Kate Conway-Turner, Suzanne Cherrin, Jessica Schiffman, and Kathleen Doherty Turkel, eds., Women's Studies in Transition: The Pursuit of Interdisciplinarity (Cranbury, N.J.: Associated Univ. Presses, 1998); and Muriel Nazzari, “The ‘Woman Question’ in Cuba: Analysis of Material Constraints on its Solution,” Signs 9:2 (1983): 246–63. More recent studies of change include Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt, Political Cultures and the State in Chile, 1920–1950 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000); Carmen Diana Deere and Magdalena León de Leal, Empowering Women: Land and Property Rights in Latin America (Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press, 2001); Elisabeth J. Friedman, Unfinished Transitions: Women and the Gendered Development of Democracy in Venezuela, 1936–1996 (University Park: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001); Karen Kampwirth, Women & Guerrilla Movements: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chiapas, Cuba (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002). For recent studies of women and the right, see Victoria González and Karen Kampwirth, Radical Women in Latin America: Left and Right (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2001); Margaret Power, Right-Wing Women in Chile; Feminine Power and the Struggle Against Allende 1964–1973 (University Park, Penn State University Press, 2002); Donna J. Guy, Women Build the Welfare State: Performing Charity, Creating Rights in Argentina, 1880–1955 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2009). The works on Mexico that dispute the revolutionary successes of women include Jocelyn Olcott, Revolutionary Women in Postrevolutionary Mexico (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2005); Jocelyn Olcott, Mary Kay Vaughn, and Gabriela Cano, eds., Sex in Revolution: Gender, Politics, and Power in Modern Mexico (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2006); Stephanie Mitchell and Patience Schell, eds., The Women's Revolution in Mexico, 1910–1953 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006); and Stephanie Smith, Gender and the Mexican Revolution: Yucatecan Women and the Realities of Patriarchy (Raleigh: University of North Carolina Press, 2009). See also the massive study of women's history in Latin America and Spain published in four volumes: Isabel Morant, ed., with various coordinators for each volume, Historia de las mujeres en España y América Latina, 4 vols. (Madrid: Cátedra, 2004–06).

(7.) On fertility rates, see Nora Scott Kinzer, “Priests, Machos, and Babies: Or, Latin American Women and the Manichaean Heresy,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 35:2 (1973): 300–12. For a more recent quantitative study, see Edith A. Pantelides and Sarah Bott, eds., Reproducción, salud y sexualidad en América Latina (Buenos Aires: Biblos, 2000). Recent works on women and labor in Latin America include María del Carmen Arnaiz and Patricia Chomnalez, Mujeres que trabajan, 1930–1940 (Buenos Aires: Centro Editor Latinoamericana, 1992); Hector Recalde, Mujer, condiciones de vida, de trabajo y salud, 2 vols. (Buenos Aires: Biblioteca Política Argentina, 1989); Heather Fowler Salamini and Mary Kay Vaughan, Women of the Mexican Countryside, 1850–1990: Creating Spaces, Shaping Transition (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1994); Helen Safa, The Myth of the Male Breadwinner: Women and Industrialization in the Caribbean (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1995); Smith, Sex and Revolution, Women in Socialist Cuba; Asunción Lavrin, Women, Feminism and Social Change; Elizabeth Quay Hutchison, Labors Appropriate to their Sex: Gender, Labor, and Politics in Urban Chile, 1900–1930 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2001); Susie S. Porter, Working Women in Mexico City; Public Discourses and Material Conditions, 1879–1931 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2003).

(8.) Joan Scott, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis,” in Gender and the Politics of History, rev. ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999). For studies of social movements in Latin America, see Arturo Escobar and Sonial E. Alvarez, The Making of Social Movements in Latin America: Identity, Strategy, and Democracy (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1992); Magdalena León de Leal and Sonia Alvarez, eds., Mujeres y participación política: Avances y desafíos en America Latina (Bogotá: Académica, 1994); Lynn Stephen, Women and Social Movements in Latin America: Power from Below (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1997); Sonia E. Alvarez, Evelina Dagnino, and Arturo Escobar, eds., Cultures of Politics/Politics of Cultures: Re-Visioning Latin American Social Movements (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1998); Maxine Molyneux, Women's Movements in International Perspective: Latin America and Beyond (New York: Palgrave, 2001).

(9.) Jeffrey Merrill Shumway, The Case of the Ugly Suitor and Other Histories of Love, Gender and Nation in Buenos Aires (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005); Kathryn A. Sloan, Runaway Daughters: Seduction, Elopement, and Honor in Nineteenth-Century Mexico (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2008).

(10.) See Silvia Lamadrid Alvarez and Soledad Muñoz, La investigación social en sexualidad en Chile, 1984–1994 (Santiago: Universidad de Chile, 1996); Eugenia Rodríguez Sáenz, “Civilizando la vida doméstica en el Valle Central de Costa Rica (1750–1850),” in Eugenia Rodríguez Sáenz, ed., Entre silencios y voces: Género e Historia en América Central (1750–1990) (San José: Centro Nacional para el Desarrollo de la Mujer y la Familia, 1997), 41–78; Susana Menéndez, En búsqueda de las mujeres: Percepciones sobre género, trabajo y sexualidad, Buenos Aires, 1900–1930 (Amsterdam: CEDLA, 1997); Manuel Angel Urrego Arila, Sexualidad, matrimonio y familia en Bogotá, 1880–1930 (Santa Fé de Bogotá: Ariel/Fundación Universidad Central-DIUC, 1997); María del Rosario Romero Contreras, Amor y sexualidad en Santander: Siglo XIX (Bucaramanga: Universidad Industrial de Santander, 1999); Christine Hunefeldt, Liberalism in the Bedroom: Quarreling Spouses in Nineteenth-Century Lima (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2000); José M. Gordillo, Campesinos revolucionarios en Bolivia: Identidad, territorio y sexualidad en el Valle Alto de Cochabamba, 1952–1964 (La Paz: PROMEC/Universidad de la Cordillera, 2000); Sonya Lipsett-Rivera, “Marriage and Family Relations In Mexico during the Transition from Colony to Nation,” and Elizabeth Anne Kuznesof, “Gender Ideology, Race, and Female-Headed Households in Urban Mexico, 1750–1850,” in Victor M. Uribe, ed., State and Society in Spanish America during the Age of Revolution (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 2001); Cristián Berco, “Silencing the Unmentionable: Non-Reproductive Sex and the Creation of a Civilized Argentina,” The Americas 53:3 (2002): 419–41; Gabriela Castellanos and Simone Accorsi, Género y sexualidad en Colombia y en Brasil (Cali: La Manzana de la Discordia/Centro de Estudios de Género, Mujer y Sociedad, 2002).

(11.) Maxine Molyneaux and Elizabeth Dore, The Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America (Chapel Hill: Duke University Press, 2000); Arlene J. Díaz, Female Citizens, Patriarchs, and the Law in Venezuela, 1786–1904 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004).

(12.) Steve Stern, The Secret History of Gender: Women, Men, and Power in Late Colonial Mexico (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995) suggested that colonial understandings of domestic violence helped explain domestic violence in modern Mexico. His thesis directly implies a weakness of the modern nation-state in Mexico.

(13.) Donna J. Guy, “Stigma, Pleasures, and Dutiful Daughters,” Journal of Women's History 10:3 (1998): 180–91 places recent publications on Latin American prostitution in a global context. Recent works specifically on Latin America include Katherine Bliss, “The Science of Redemption: Syphilis, Sexual Promiscuity, and Reformism in Revolutionary Mexico City,” Hispanic American Historical Review 79:1 (1999): 1–40; José Flores Ramos, “Virgins, Whores and Martyrs: Prostitution in the Colony, 1898–1919,” in Félix V. Matos Rodríguez and Linda C. Delgado, eds., Puerto Rican Women's History: New Perspectives (Armonk, N.Y. and London: M.E. Sharpe, 1998), 83–104; Sueann Caulfield, “The Birth of Mangue: Race, Nation, and the Politics of Prostitution in Rio de Janeiro, 1850–1942,” in Daniel Balderston and Donna J. Guy, eds., Sex and Sexuality in Latin America (New York: New York University Press, 1997), 86–100; William E. French, “Prostitutes and Guardian Angels: Women, Work and Family in Porfirian Mexico,” Hispanic American Historical Review 72:4 (1992): 529–53; Robert M. Buffington and Pablo Piccato, “Tales of Two Women: The Narrative Construct of Porfirian Reality,” The Americas 55:3 (1999): 391–424; Eileen J. Findlay, “Decency and Democracy: The Politics of Prostitution in Ponce, Puerto Rico, 1890–1900,” Feminist Studies 23:3 (1997): 471–99; Eileen Findlay, Imposing Decency: The Politics of Sexuality and Race in Puerto Rico, 1870–1920 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2000); Katherine Elaine Bliss, Compromised Positions: Prostitution, Public Health, and Gender Politics in Revolutionary Mexico City (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2002); Beatriz Kushnir, Baile de máscaras: Mulheres judias e prostituição; As polacas e suas associaçãoes de ajuda mútua (Rio de Janeiro: Imago, 1996); Yvette Trochón Ghislieri, Mercenarias del amor: Prostitución y modernidad en el Uruguay (1880–1932) (Buenos Aires: Taurus, 2003); Alvaro Góngora Escobedo, La prostitución en Santiago, 1813–1931: Visión de las elites (Santiago: Editorial Universitaria, 1994); Marlene Sánchez Moncada, “La prostitución en Bogotá, 1880–1920,” Anuario Colombiano de Historia Social y de la Cultura 25 (1998): 146–87; Jorge Salessi, “Medics, Crooks, and Tango Queens: The National Appropriation of a Gay Tango,” in Celeste Fraser Delgado and José Esteban Muñoz, eds., Everynight Life; Culture and Dancing in Latin/o America (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1997), 141–74.

(14.) Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983). Among the first responses to Anderson by Latin Americanists are those to be found in Andrew Parker, Doris Sommer, et al., eds., Nationalism and Sexualities (New York: Routledge, 1992); Emilie Bergmann, Janet Greenberg, and Gwen Kirkpatrick, eds., Women, Culture, and Politics in Latin America: Seminar on Feminism and Culture in Latin America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992). See also Anna Macias, Against All Odds: The Feminist Movement in Mexico to 1940 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1982); Donna J. Guy, “Lower-Class Families, Women and the Law in Nineteenth-Century Argentina,” Journal of Family History 10:3 (1985): 318–31; June Edith Hahner, Emancipating the Female Sex: The Struggle for Women's Rights in Brazil, 1850–1940 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1990); Sonia Alvarez, Engendering Democracy in Brazil: Women's Movements in Transition Politics (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1990); K. Lynn Stoner, From the House to the Streets: The Cuban Woman's Movement for Legal Reform, 1898–1940 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1991); Francesca Miller, Latin American Women and the Search for Social Justice (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 1991); Asunción Lavrin, Women, Feminism, and Social Change in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, 1890–1940 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995); Donna J. Guy, Sex and Danger in Buenos Aires: Prostitution, Family and Nation in Argentina (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1991); Sarah C. Chambers, From Subjects to Citizens: Honor, Gender, and Politics in Arequipa Peru, 1780–1854 (University Park: Penn State University Press, 1999); Hunefeldt, Liberalism in the Bedroom; Elizabeth Dore, Gender Politics in Latin America: Debates in Theory and Practice (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1997); Elizabeth Dore and Maxine Molyneux, eds., Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2000); Díaz, Female Citizens, Patriarchy and the Law in Venezuela, 1786–1904.

(15.) Pioneering work on the welfare state came initially from studies of social security. See Carmelo Mesa Lago, Social Security in Latin America: Pressure Groups, Stratification, and Inequality (Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh University Press, 1978). Guillermo V. Alonso, Política y seguridad social en la Argentina de los ʻ90 (Buenos Aires: FLACSO, 2000). See also Ann S. Blum, “Public Welfare and Child Circulation in Mexico City, 1877–1925,” Journal of Family History 23:3 (1998), 240–72, and The Americas 58:1 (July 2001), the special issue on the rise of the welfare state in Latin America, as well as, more recently, Anne-Emanuelle Birn, Raquel Pollero, and Wanda Cabella, “No se debe llorar sobre leche derramada: El pensamiento epidemiológico y la mortalidad infantil en Uruguay, 1900–1940,” Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe 14:1 (2003), available at (accessed May 21, 2010). A 2004 special issue of the Journal of Jewish History on the history of Jews in Latin America has also revealed the role of immigrant women in welfare: see–701X/contents; Christine Ehrick, The Shield of the Weak: Feminism and the State in Uruguay, 1903–1933 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005). For a review article on the state of female welfare state history, see Donna J. Guy, “Feminists, Philanthropists, the Rise of the Welfare State, and Child Welfare Policies,” Brújula 4:1 (December 2005), 45–59, and Women Build the Welfare State: Performing Charity, Creating Rights in Argentina, 1880–1955 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2009).

(16.) Nadia Haggag Youssef, Women and Work in Developing Societies (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1976); Donna J. Guy, “Women, Peonage and Industrialization Argentina, 1810–1914,” Latin American Research Review 16:3 (1981): 65–89; Donna J. Guy, “Emilio and Gabriela Coni: Reformers, Public Health, and Working Women,” in The Human Tradition in Latin America: The Nineteenth Century, Judith Ewell and William H. Beezley, eds. (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1989); Héctor Recalde, La higiene y el trabajo: 1870–1930, 2 vols. (Buenos Aires: Centro Editor de América Latina, 1988); Eugenia Rodrírguez Sáenz, ed., Entre silencios y voces: Género e historia en América Central 1750–1990 (San José: Centro Nacional para el Desarrollo de la Mujer y la Familia, 1997); Susan K. Besse, Restructuring Patriarchy: The Modernization of Gender Inequality in Brazil, 1914–1940 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1996). Sarah Buck, “El control de la natalidad y el día de la madre: Política feminista y reaccionaria en México, 1922–1923,” Signos históricos 5 (2001), 9–53; many of the essays in Fernanda Gil Lozano, Valeria Silvina Pita, and María Gabriela Ini, eds., Historia de las mujeres en la Argentina, 2 vols. (Buenos Aires: Taurus, 2000); Sandra McGee Deutsch, “Christians, Homemakers, and Transgressors: Extreme Right-Wing Women in Twentieth-Century Brazil,” Journal of Women's History 16:3 (2004), 124–37; María Fernanda Lorenzo, Ana Lia Rey, and Cecilia Tossounian, “Images of Virtuous Women: Morality, Gender and Power in Argentina between the World Wars,” Gender & History 17:3 (2005), 567–92; Barbara Weinstein, “They Don't Even Look Like Women Workers: Femininity and Class in Twentieth-Century Latin America,” International Labor and Working-Class History 69:1 (2006), 161–76; Kelly Hayes, “Wicked Women and Femmes Fatales: Gender, Power and Pomba Gira in Brazil,” History of Religions 48:1 (2008): 1–21.

(17.) Donna J. Guy, “‘White Slavery,’ Citizenship, and Nationalism in Argentina,” in Nationalisms and Sexualities, ed. Andrew Parker, Mary Russo, Doris Sommer and Patricia Yeager (New York: Routledge, 1992): 201–17. The history of women hiding pregnancy and refusing to acknowledge maternity dates from colonial traditions of honor. Scholars of Argentina have been at the forefront in linking the arrival of both positivism and psychoanalysis as tools for governmental reform of gender and sexuality. Mariano Ben Plotkin, ed., Argentina on the Couch: Psychiatry, State and Society, 1880 to the Present (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2003); Kristen Ruggiero, Modernity in the Flesh: Medicine, Law, and Society in Turn of the Century Argentina (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003).

(18.) Carlos Luis Jáuregui, La homosexualidad en la Argentina (Buenos Aires: Colección Cultura y Sociedad, 1987); Eduardo Archetti, Masculinities: Football, Polo and the Tango in Argentina (New York: Berg, 1999); Roger N. Lancaster, “Subject Honor and Object Shame: The Construction of Male Homosexuality and Stigma in Nicaragua,” Ethnology 27:2 (1988): 111–25; “Sexual Positions: Caveats and Second Thoughts on ‘Categories.’” The Americas, 54:1 (July 1997): 1–16; Stephen O. Murray et al., Latin American Male Homosexualities (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995); Ian Lumsden, Machos, Maricones and Gays: Cuba and Homosexuality (Pennsylvania: Temple University Press, 1996); Richard Parker, Bodies, Pleasures and Passions: Sexual Culture in Contemporary Brazil (Boston: Beacon Press, 1991) and Beneath the Equator: Cultures of Desire, Male Homosexuality, and Emerging Gay Communities in Brazil (New York: Routledge, 1999); Matthew Gutmann, The Meanings of Macho: Being a Man in Mexico City (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996). Historians have also made major contributions to this field. See Jorge Salessi, Médicos maleantes y maricas: Higiene, criminología y homosexualidad en la construcción de la nación argentina (Buenos Aires, 1871–1914) (Rosario: B. Viterbo, 1995); James Naylor Green, Beyond Carnaval: Male Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century Brazil (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999) and “Challenging National Heroes and Myths: Male Homosexuality and Brazilian History,” Estudios Interdisciplinarios de América Latina y el Caribe 12:1 (2001). There are several historical articles in Peter McKee Irwin, Edward J. McCaughan, and Michelle Rossio Nasser, eds., The Famous 41: Sexuality and Social Control in Mexico, 1901 (New York: Palgrave, 2003).

(19.) Susan K. Besse, “Crimes of Passion: The Campaign Against Wife-Killing in Brazil, 1910–1940,” Journal of Social History 22:4 (1989): 653–66; Restructuring Patriarchy: The Modernization of Gender Inequality in Brazil, 1914–1940 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1996).

(20.) Asunción Lavrin, Women, Feminism, and Social Change in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, 1890–1940 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995). K. Lynn Stoner, From the House to the Streets: The Cuban Woman's Movement for Legal Reform, 1898–1940 (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1991).

(21.) Donna J. Guy, “Parents Before the Tribunals: The Legal Construction of Patriarchy in Argentina,” in Maxine Molyneux and Elizabeth Dore, eds., The Hidden Histories of Gender and the State in Latin America (Durham, N.C. and London: Duke University Press, 2000).

(22.) Thomas Miller Klubock, Contested Communities: Class, Gender, and Politics in Chile's El Teniente Copper Mine, 1904–1951 (Durham, N.C. and London: Duke University Press, 1998): 7, fn 11.

(23.) Arlene J. Díaz, Female Citizens, Patriarchs, and the Law in Venezuela, 1786–1904 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004); Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt, “Domesticating Men: State-Building and Class Compromise in Popular-Front Chile,” in Dore and Molyneux, Hidden Histories of Gender and the State, 262–90.