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Republican Womanhood

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James Stout

on 22 March 2017

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Transcript of Republican Womanhood

Women in Sport and Struggle in Spain's Second Republic
The structural conflicts
The left radically rejected traditional gender and family roles, however not at the expense of the revolution itself. These roles would only be done away with when capitalism itself fell.


The Church felt that women could help support its political agenda but was socially conservative.

The Republican "big tent", with its diverse ideologies, was the one that most readily accepted women, especially those with a feminist agenda.

Front Únic Femení d'Esquerra Catalana
Women Athletes
From the Sports field to the battlefield. 1936
.“Los ciudadanos de uno y otro sexo, mayores de veintitrés años, tendrán los mismos derechos electorales conforme determinen las leyes.” (Citizens of either sex , over 23 years old, have equal voting rights under the law)

They battled three barriers: Science, the Law and the Church.

Gregorio Marañón - "Sexo, trabajo y deporte"

Clara Campoamor

The Catalan Case, Divorce and Civil Marriage in 1931,Abortion in 1935, Prostitution in 1936
Republican Womanhood vs “ángel del hogar” model
Role models for physically empowered women
Rosa Castelltort -

Maria Martínez-Sagi -
“this phobia of [female] athletes is little more than an envy stemming from his own ineptitude in the practice of sports, the envy and exasperation of an individual who has not enjoyed the benefits of a healthy youth, of the sun in the stadium or on the beach.”

Organizational growth


"political polarization prevented the development of trans class unity around a common gender cause."

Women grew tired of having women's sections of parties which did not share their goals. This was how the anarcho feminist "Mujeres Libres" was founded.

The goal was to liberate women from the "triple enslavement to ignorance, as women, and as producers"

Over 20,000 members would join the organization’s 103 chapters during the Republic. Under the repression of Madrid, these groups survived when those for radical men and boys did not.
The Retreat From Equality
in 1937 , under the influence of Russian advisors, the military was regularized. Rosa and others went home and the Republic began to realize that it would need to step back to survive.

""There were still women serving in the militias, though not very many. In the early battles they had fought side by side with the men as a matter of course." - Orwell

There were still empowered rhetorical and home front roles for women

"it is better to be the widow of a hero than the wife of a coward" "cry like women since you cannot fight like men"
“the supposed inferiority of the female sex has no scientific basis; this weakness has its basis in centuries of constraint in the home, limited activity and a lack of physical education." - Concepción Gimeno de Flaquer

Popular sport and Popular Catalanism go hand in hand

Feminism is best seen as a social movement and physical culture was a vital part of it.

FC Barcelona changed its constitution to include the word “members” without a specific gender and not only added a women’s team but also a woman to its board of directors in 1934.

Club Femeni I d’Esports - “the physical and cultural education of Catalan girls” . “along with their daily exercises of swimming, gymnastics and basketball, the young women of the CFE read our [national] press each day, and they do not overlook the political sections."
Maria Ginesta - July 1936
Rosario Sánchez Mora
Sept 1935
In the Press
The damsel: It [sport] is elegant: - very chic and fashionable; a very modern way of dressing ...
The housewife: - One way to waste time.
The girl that works: - The joy of moving!
The “blessed” woman: - Indecent.
The feminist - Physical culture is indispensable for the emancipation of women.
But the passion for sports without the control of the intellect occurs to the detriment of intelligence and intellectual attitudes.
The sportswoman: - ... Sport is sport; that’s it! Training, effort and record breaking; and
after taking a shower. Then come cups and medals!
The political aficionado: - It is a tool for citizens to become strong, healthy and
useful to the country and society. Perfect citizens of today are aware of their
rights and duties; perfect mothers of tomorrow forge future generations
who redeem mankind.
The 'Miss neighbourhood 1934': - It is very good for keeping slim ...
The old lady: - Go ... go ... If you are the equal of the young lads, oh these girls today!
Homo sapiens: - Sport ... female? PSS! It's not worth talking about it.”

"I had the opportunity to fight when women didn't fight. They stayed at home. I lost my hand. It didn't matter. I was prepared to lose my life."
"If anyone tells you fighting is not for women, tell them that undertaking your revolutionary duty pertains to anyone who is not a coward " Elisa Garcia

There were up to 1,000 women who fought on the front lines in 1936. Several thousand more served in defence and logistical roles.

"Roman does not know what to do and he mumbles : Comrade you are a brave and Valiant Woman"

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