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Transcript of Las Adelitas
Porfirio Diaz's Reign and Events Leading to the Mexican Revolution
Porfirio Diaz was elected in 1876. He deceived the people by running on an anti-reelection platform. In 1880, his puppet Manuel González was elected and amended the laws so that Diaz could be reelected in 1884. Diaz remained in power until 1911 (Fernandez 54).
Diaz was known for catering to the upper class and foreign powers. The poor were mostly ignored. He let American mining companies pay the Mexican laborers lower wages than the Americans doing the same job. This led to a strike, and Diaz allowed U.S. troops to enter Mexico and end it (54).
In 1910 Diaz declared that Mexico would have a fair election, because he thought there was no chance he would lose.
When it became evident that the challenger, Francisco I. Madero would win, he had Madero arrested and held a mock election which declared Diaz the winner.
This is seen as having sparked the revolution, however Emiliano Zapata had already been fighting over land in Southern Mexico.
Oppression of Women
The Constitution of 1857 did not allow citizenship for women, and therefore they could not vote.
Worse, married women did not have the right to "enter into a contract, sell property, or oversee their children's education" (Fernandez 54).
They could not work as teachers or attorneys for anyone besides their husbands (54).
These restrictions made life extremely difficult for these women.
What is an Adelita?
Adelita is a name given to describe a female soldier in the Mexican Revolution.
It means the same thing as a "Soldadera," on the side of the resistance but now has taken a different connotation.
Unfortunately nowadays, often when people refer to "La Adelita they are often imagining a more sexualized version of a female soldier, which is problematic from both historical and feminist perspective.
Sometimes people refer to a "soldadera" they mean a camp follower, and not a woman that was involved in the fighting directly.
Women in the Revolution
Political Ideals played a large role in women joining the revolution.
"Women took a very active role in that fierce electoral battle between Diego Redo, the Porfirian candidate, and José Ferrel, the independent opponent" (529). This is referring to the electoral race for Governor of the state of Sinaloa. Redo won, which further built the tension that led to revolution.
Seeking protection was also a common cause for women to join.
Angela Jiménez joined the revolutionaries after a Federal officer attempted to rape her sister, which ensued a fight that killed both her sister and the officer. She the followed her father to the Sierra (529).
Women also joined the Federal Army, often because they were forced in an effort to keep the men from deserting.
Sometimes women joined the Fedeal Army to make money, as there were few other options at the time.
Different Armies of The Mexican Revolution and Women's Roles in Each of Them
There were many armies involved in the Mexican Revolution. There was the Federal Army, led at first by Diaz, The Liberation Army of the South (Zapatistas), led by Emiliano Zapata, Maderista troops,fighting for Francisco I. Madero, the Orozquistas, led by Pascual Orozco, and Pancho Villa's army.
"No army of the revolution fought without women but each organized female participation in a distinct manner" (Fuentes 526-527).
In Diaz's Federal Army, women provided for the men in the campgrounds, and did not fight on the battlefield. Providing supplies to the troops in Porfirio Diaz's army became a lucrative business. Soladeras "carried a food basket complete with tablecloth, decorative plates, and, for an added touch, a vase to fill with flowers" (qtd. in 529).
Women were alo forced to work in mills and kitchens supplying food for the Federal Army after the practice of conscription increased under Victoriano Huerta (533).
Soldaderas not only cooked and looked after the men, but they also carried out important tasks such as scouting and spying on the enemy as well as smuggling arms from the United States. (533).
The Maderistas and Orozquistas had "little or no division of labor, both men and women fought and both provisioned the troops" (529). However, these armies did not last long.
Petra Herrera is one example of a woman who fought in battle just like the men. "She fought for Venustiano Carranza’s forces disguised as a man for most of her military career. Using the nom de guerre of “Pedro Herrera,” she rose up through the ranks to become a captain and later a colonel.32 She earned fame for her fearlessness, skills on the battlefield, and temper" (56).
The Liberation Army of the South, or the Zapatistas, had a more complex system of the division of labor, which was not restricted on the basis of sex. This is evident in the case of Margarita Neri, a Zapatista Commondante.
Similar to La Virgen De Guadalupe, La Adelita would become revered and mythified, and her legacy lives on today.
"... among women in both México and the U.S., Adelita is a symbol of action and inspiration, and her name is used to mean any woman who struggles and fights for her rights" (Arrizón 91).
The song "La Adelita" often sung by many rebel troops, such as Pancho Villa's army, would essentially become the anthem of the revolution.
Why Women Joined the Fighting
"If Adelita would be my girlfriend,
If Adelita were my wife,
I would buy her a silk dress
to take her dancing to the barracks.
If Adelita left with another,
I would follow her by land and sea:
if by sea, in a ship of war;
if by land, in a military train."
“The valiant Petra Herrera
In the heat of the battle
And even though she was taken prisoner
She doesn’t surrender or give up .
Long live Petra Herrera
Long live the Maderistas!
Let the baldies (Federales) die!
With the cowardly Porfiristas! "
Mystification of the Adelita
In popular culture, La Adelita is often depicted as more of a sexual object than a soldier, wearing revealing clothes instead of men's garments and long skirts.
Since soldaderas did not adhere to strict gender roles, they threatened the patriarchal power structure, so men diminished their legacy in a way "that allowed the men to retain their dominance in society and that subjugated the soldaderas to a subordinate role" (58).
Prostitutes during the Mexican Revolution, who also transcended idealized gender norms, could be a source of confusion which resulted in a hyper-sexualized depiction of the Adelita (58).
Other instances of traditional gender and familial values have contributed to the Adelita being portrayed either promiscuously (bad) or domestically (good), which is the case often in films about the Mexican Revolution (58).
Arrizón, Alicia. ""Soldaderas" and the Staging of the Mexican Revolution." TDR 42.1 (1998): 90-112. Print.
Fernández, Delia. "From Soldadera to Adelita: The Depiction of Women in the Mexican Revolution." McNair Scholars Journal 13.1 (2009): 53-62. Print.
Fuentes, Andrés R. "Battleground Women: Soldaderas and Female Soldiers in the Mexican Revolution." The Americas 51.4 (1955): 525-33. Print.
Gamboa, Raúl Espinos "Páginas de la Historia en el Bicentenario y Centenario, Adela Velárde Pérez, La Adelita"Páginas de la Historia. Quintana Roo Al Dia, 8 Sept. 2010. Web. 21 Nov. 2013