Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Women's Museum

 Mexico City boasts more than 150 museums.  I've read that only London, England, has more museums.  I have visited many but not all of them.  (And if truth be told, some of them really do not interest me at all.) Last Wednesday I went to the Women's Museum, a small museum that deals with the role of women in Mexico and their place in history.

So, here is a short history of some famous women in Mexican history...

Malintzin, better known as La Malinche, was a native woman who served as the interpreter and advisor to the Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés.  She became his mistress and bore him his first son.  Several years later, Cortés married her off to one of his officers.  She is viewed by some as having betrayed her people, and to call someone a "Malinche" is to call that person a traitor.

A wooden statue of the Immaculate Virgin from 18th century Spain.  The Virgin Mary was viewed as the epitome of feminine perfection, an example for women of colonial Mexico to follow.

Breaking the mold of feminine expectations was Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a brilliant scholar and the greatest poet of colonial Latin America.  She has been called a proto-feminist who challenged the hypocrisy of men and the assumption that women were intellectually inferior.  


A number of women played significant roles in the Mexico's War for Independence from Spain.

Josefa Ortiz, better known as "La Corregidora", played an active role in the independence movement, and it was she who warned Miguel Hidalgo when the Spanish authorities learned of the conspiracy and troops were on their way to arrest him.

Leona Vicaro wrote articles in favor of Mexico's independence and is considered Mexico's first woman journalist.

Women also played a role in the Mexican Revolution of 1910.

Dolores Jiménez y Muro was a rural schoolteacher who became a political activist opposed to the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz.  She was twice arrested for participating in protest demonstrations against the government.  After her release she became a supporter of the revolutionary Emiliano Zapata.  She wrote that "it is time that Mexican women realize that their rights and obligations go beyond the home."

The Revolution brought calls for women's suffrage, but it was a slow battle for equality.  In the 1920s, three states, Yucatán, Chiapas and San Luis Potosí granted women the vote.  But it was not until 1953 that women's suffrage was granted nationally.

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