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The Politics of Motherhood

The Politics of Motherhood: Maternity and Women’s Rights in Twentieth-Century Chile

Jadwiga E. Pieper Mooney
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hjrtd
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    The Politics of Motherhood
    Book Description:

    With the 2006 election of Michelle Bachelet as the first female president and women claiming fifty percent of her cabinet seats, the political influence of Chilean women has taken a major step forward. Despite a seemingly liberal political climate, Chile has a murky history on women's rights, and progress has been slow, tenuous, and in many cases, non-existent.Chronicling an era of unprecedented modernization and political transformation, Jadwiga E. Pieper Mooney examines the negotiations over women's rights and the politics of gender in Chile throughout the twentieth century. Centering her study on motherhood, Pieper Mooney explores dramatic changes in health policy, population paradigms, and understandings of human rights, and reveals that motherhood is hardly a private matter defined only by individual women or couples. Instead, it is intimately tied to public policies and political competitions on nation-state and international levels.The increased legitimacy of women's demands for rights, both locally and globally, has led to some improvements in gender equity. Yet feminists in contemporary Chile continue to face strong opposition from neoconservatism in the Catholic Church and a mixture of public apathy and legal wrangling over reproductive rights and health.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7361-4
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-12)

    In 1872, Chilean writer Martina Barros Borgoño made it her personal task to translate into Spanish the acclaimedOn the Subjection of Women, a work by Englishman, moral philosopher, and political theorist John Stuart Mill.¹ In a provocative prologue that gave her a name as a respected voice among Santiago’s intellectuals, Barros Borgoño introduced what she considered Mill’s most important contributions to a critique of gender roles at the time, and added her own conclusions regarding the role of women in society.² She argued that Mill rightfully exposed some of the fundamental contradictions of societies where men used references to...

  2. 1 PUBLIC HEALTH, MANAGED MOTHERHOOD, AND PATRIARCHY IN A MODERNIZING NATION
    (pp. 13-43)

    In the 1920s, when social worker Luisa Fierro Carrera expressed her thoughts on “woman in her role as creator” in society, Chile was in the midst of a profound transformation. New political movements, especially among middle-class reformers, contested the powers of the old oligarchy and promoted, as the historian Patrick Barr-Melej has termed it, a “mesocracy” marked by widespread political participation.¹ This mass politics emerged from economic and social change, as a fluctuating copper industry in the north and stagnating agricultural production elsewhere in the country stimulated urban industrialization and rural migration to cities like Santiago. Chilean industry struggled during...

  3. 2 LOCAL AGENCY, CHANGED GLOBAL PARADIGMS, AND THE BURDEN OF MOTHERHOOD
    (pp. 44-70)

    In 1964, a woman we know only as Cristina, from the municipality of Conchalí in Santiago, found herself pregnant, desperate, and unable to face the challenge of raising another child. She tried to make a home of a shack in a neighborhood invaded by squatters. At thirty-one, she and her four children lived in poverty. Even though her hardworking husband sold bread door-to-door for up to sixteen hours a day, the family’s limited resources made feeding them a difficult task. Cristina worked in a textile factory by day and studied dressmaking at night. She had had seven abortions. Her eighth...

  4. 3 PLANNING MOTHERHOOD UNDER CHRISTIAN DEMOCRACY
    (pp. 71-101)

    In 1968, Chilean doctors received an educational film,Family Planning/Planificación Familiar, from the U.S. Population Council.¹ It was first shown in screenings organized by the Association for the Protection of the Family (APROFA) and quickly gained popularity. Within a year, more than thirty-six thousand Chileans had seen the film.² The Disney animation, produced in both English and Spanish, introduced viewers to a cartoon husband, claiming to represent the “common man,” and to Donald Duck, who leads the audience from one theme to the next. After describing the dangers of overpopulation and underdevelopment, Donald tells the viewers that family planning, which...

  5. 4 GENDERED CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS ON THE PEACEFUL ROAD TO SOCIALISM
    (pp. 102-133)

    When Laura, a woman in her early twenties, talked about her experiences under President Allende’s government (1970–1973), she painted a picture markedly different from the established portrait of women’s roles. She recalled her initial plunge into politics in the late 1960s, at which time she was involved in struggles for land that led to the foundation of Nueva La Havana (New Havana), acampamentoon the outskirts of Santiago.¹ Thecampamentos, she explained, were not like other shantytowns, because those who lived in them were politically conscious and militant, energized by the land occupations that had brought them together...

  6. 5 FROM MOTHERS’ RIGHTS TO WOMEN’S RIGHTS IN A NATION UNDER SIEGE
    (pp. 134-162)

    In January 1974, the French newspaperLe mondepublished a story on Santiago’scampamentoNew Havana. Its residents had been the best organized and most combativepobladoresduring Allende’s term as president (1970–1973). In the course of only three years, they had constrained illegal alcohol sales and prostitution while at the same time their own defense front had prevented intrusion by outsiders, including the national police forces. New Havana residents had built their own health center and had provided education for their children in discarded school buses.¹ NowLe mondereported that their concerted efforts to create new lives...

  7. 6 INTERNATIONAL ENCOUNTERS AND WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT UNDER DICTATORSHIP AND REDEMOCRATIZATION
    (pp. 163-192)

    In October 1974, Joan Jara, widow of singer-songwriter Victor Jara, who had been tortured and killed by the military, toured the United States with her young children and the folk band Inti-Illimani. All had been exiled from Chile. Now they used music to tell of the political violence that continued to shatter their home country. Inti-Illimani summed up its message for a New York audience with the song “Zamba de los humildes” (Song of the poor): “If we must wait for hope, we will wait for it singing.”¹ In the same year, Joan Jara spoke at American University in Washington,...

  8. POSTSCRIPT
    (pp. 193-202)

    Margarita Calderón,pobladoraorganizer from La Victoria, remembered her invitation to Santiago’s National Stadium to celebrate the return of democracy and to listen to Patricio Aylwin a few months after he was elected president of Chile in December 1989. She recalled how she put on her best clothes to go to the stadium. This had also been the place where “her Nestor had been, … where they had left him injured,” injured to the point of no return. The National Stadium, used as a concentration camp by the dictatorship, was not a place she had ever visited after her experience...