26 | MAY | 2019

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Adelita, a female Mexican revolutionary icon – Photo: Edgard Garrido/REUTERS

La Adelita

Mexico City
Natalia Gómez Quintero
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The depiction of women in Mexican Revolution

Soldaderas (women soldiers), Rieleras (women waiting for their husbands at the edge of the train tracks), Valentinas and more often called Adelitas were women in the military who participated in the conflict of the Mexican Revolution.

La Adelita, a female Mexican revolutionary icon usually depicted as a provocative woman, yet wearing bandoliers across her chest and a gun attached to her back, goes beyond the promiscuous woman often related to the previous description.

"La Adelita is a gender discourse created in the mid-twentieth century, which has remained in the memory of the Mexican Revolution. It emphasizes the beauty of women, their youth and the courage they had to accompany men in war, but at the same time it makes it difficult to recognize the different women who participated in this fight," explains Gabriela Cano, researcher at the College of Mexico (Colegio de México abbreviated Colmex).

"Created by the collective imaginary of the postrevolutionary era, the concept of La Adelita gives a popular note to the armed struggle," says the historian Javier Torres Medina. There were women soldiers and colonels, such as the Zapatistas Güera Robles (named Amelia, who had to masculinize her appearance) and Rosa Bobadilla, but women without military ranks also played an important role in the fight by supporting infrastructure and by giving shape to the logistics of the revolutionary camps. These women fed, accompanied and carried the domestic environment, and at the same time, they were spies and messengers.

"In the hems of their long skirts, they carried written messages, ammunition and gunpowder. Weapons were hidden under the food. If discovered, they were subjected to the law in all its rigor, yet we don't know their names, neither their surnames, but they were there," says Gabriela Cano.

There were women who accompanied men in the field, while others saw themselves, same as men, as mere victims obliged by the circumstances to participate in the revolt. At the time, women played multiple roles, "soldiers, cooks, spies, companions, mothers, professionals, etc." says sociologist María Ileana García Gossio.

Thus, the depiction of women in Mexican Revolution and their roles resulted in an abstraction that limits female participation in the fight. The participants, in most cases, defended an ideological position.

Elena Arizmendi, creator of the Neutral White Cross - Photo: File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
Rosa Bobadillas, colonel- Photo: File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
Juana Belén Gutiérrez, founder of Vesper daily which worked for women's rights as well as offering support to miners - Photo: File photo/EL UNIVERSAL

History is in debt and demands a version that proves that women were key figures who achieved more than a theme for corridos like "La Adelita."

Mexican Revolution, (19101920) was a long and bloody struggle among a series of factions constantly shifting alliances which resulted in the end of the 30-year dictatorship in Mexico and the establishment of a constitutional republic.


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