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Ten— Toward a History of Women's Periodicals in Latin America: Introduction: Seminar on Women and Culture in Latin America
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Toward a History of Women's Periodicals in Latin America: Introduction:
Seminar on Women and Culture in Latin America

The history of women's participation in journalism is a study yet to be written. Such a study would undoubtedly force a rewriting of the history of Latin American culture. For Latin American women, periodical literature has constituted the chief form of participation in public dialogue, in contrast with women in the United States, who drew upon their Protestant heritage and the precedent of abolitionists such as the Grimke sisters to claim access to the public podium. This bibliography, compiled by Janet Greenberg, while making no claim to encyclopedic coverage, is intended to indicate the scope of this vast and vital subject.

As summarized in the table on page 184, our research so far shows that the most consistent production of periodicals by and for women has occurred in Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. Indeed, the publication of women's magazines has been consistent in Argentina in every decade since the 1830s and in Brazil since the 1840s. By the early 1920s every country in South America, with the apparent exception of the Guayanas, supported at least one women's magazine. The greatest burst of feminist magazine activity in any period excluding the 1980s was in the 1920s and 1930s. Over fifty magazines on this list appeared in these decades. In the 1980s, with the rebirth of significant feminist movements, production has again skyrocketed all over Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean. Though the data presented here are impressive, our efforts to trace the production in the Andean region have so far yielded only limited results from which no conclusions should be drawn. Indeed, at this preliminary stage, no conclusions should be drawn about the existence or nonexistence of women's periodicals in areas that have so far yielded no records.

The earliest evidence of women's involvement in print journalism in Latin America uncovered by this project is the work of Señora de Bernardo Cal-


derón, listed by Lola Anderson ("Mexican Women Journalists," Pan American Bulletin 68 [May 1934]: 315–320) as the first woman printer-journalist in Mexico. Her name first appeared on a newssheet in 1641; she wrote and published hojas volantes from a printing press that she continued to operate until 1684. Subsequent generations of her family included several other women printer-journalists. Women writers are credited with having worked on one of the earliest periodicals published in New Spain, the Gazeta de México y Noticias de Nueva España (1722). There is evidence that in 1800 María Fernández de Jauregui inherited her husband's printing press and used it, among other purposes, for periodical publishing.

For most of the nineteenth century, women's writings, like those of men, belonged almost exclusively to an elite culture. In the early decades of independence, even before the democratization of education and the impact of late-nineteenth-century social movements, a transnational, often multilingual network of print culture blossomed among elite and educated women of the Americas and Europe. Literate women from Peru to Paris, from the Southern Cone to the Caribbean to the United States, were brought into dialogue in the public arena of periodical literature. Starting in the early years of independence, Spanish American and Brazilian women forcefully entered the debate about women's role in politics and culture. Editors of pamphlets and periodicals, frequently writing under pseudonyms, often defended the political power of domesticity. They insisted on the rights of women to better education or to be heard in the public sphere; they expanded the definition of motherhood to include devotion to the pen; they opened discussions with influential women in other nations.

Juana Manuela Gorriti, the Argentine writer exiled in Peru in the 1840s, established communication between Lima and the women of her native country by founding a magazine. Returning to Argentina in the 1850s, she initiated a literary journal, La Alborada del Plata , that carried international debates on women's role in modernity. In that same decade, another Argentine woman, Juana Manso, founded O Jornal de Senhoras while living in Brazil. Returning to Argentina in 1854, she began the Album de Señoritas . Cuban Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, who moved readily between Spain and Cuba, published the Album del Bello Sexo in Spain in the 1840s and the Album Cubano de lo Bueno y lo Bello in Havana in the 1860s. The journalistic career of Bolivian Carolina Freyre de Jaimes (b. 1835) spanned four countries and over fifty years of publishing activity in major newspapers and women's magazines. After establishing her career as a journalist in Peru at a very young age, she directed the women's magazine El Album (Lima and Bolivia, 1860s–1870s), to which such figures as Juana Manuela Gorriti regularly contributed. She founded and directed La Columna del Hogar (Buenos Aires, 1898/99–1902) and cofounded La Revista Argentina in Santa Fe, with the express goal of publishing a feminist magazine for the provinces. Her


leadership among women activists and feminists is suggested by the records uncovered of decades of collaboration with Gorriti and Clorinda Matto de Turner from the 1840s to the early 1900s.

The existence of this women's print network challenges assumptions about the supposed isolation, parochialism, and triviality of women's culture in the nineteenth century. Such assumptions are often anchored in an uncritical acceptance of ideologies that identify men with production and a public sphere and women with consumption and a domestic sphere. The image of women as readers seems to pose little threat to this configuration: reading counts as a form of consumption in bourgeois terms. The image of women writing, on the other hand, can be threatening. It involves women producing in the public sphere, often from within the domestic center, who introduce domestic issues into the place of public discussion and insist on making visible the activity of women in workplaces, politics, and commercial and social life. Once the literary-journalistic activity of women is examined, cherished boundaries between public and domestic instantly blur.

The increasing presence of women in networks of print culture can be measured both by women's own journalistic production and by the proliferation of masculine productions directed at women readers. It is no surprise that so many publications in the nineteenth century (some of them listed below) were devoted to women's interests: fashion, cosmetics, and serialized novels were stock elements of popular journalism from the middle years of the century. Indeed, as numbers of female readers increased, the kinds of publications destined for a female audience proliferated. The circulation of women's periodicals in Mexico in the mid-1800s compares with that of independent feminist periodicals today: La Semana de las Señoritas Mejicanas (Mexico City, 1851–1852) lists almost 1,400 subscribers, of whom only 200 resided in Mexico City, El Semanario de las Señoritas Mejicanas (1841–1842) lists a high of 1,020 subscribers, only 196 in Mexico City. Such evidence may point to an international readership for these magazines.

The mid-nineteenth century saw two kinds of "women's" periodicals: the ladies' magazine, a publication typically edited by men and devoted heavily to changing styles and fashions for women, and the liberal republican periodical edited by women, devoted principally to demands for female emancipation and a voice in national debate. The latter type often met with strong reactions. Male opponents to these conspicuous female interventions fired strongly satirical rejoinders. In Argentina, journals titled La Matrona Comentadora or El Hijo de Su Madre played on misogynist images of women as libertines or unrestrained gossips.

One early and dramatic example of a masculinist attack on women's journalism was effected by Don Manuel Irigoyen, the anonymous publisher of La Argentina (1830–1831), the earliest Argentine magazine pretending to be written by and for women. In its pages Irigoyen waged a slanderous cam-


paign against a rival magazine really founded and edited by a woman, La Aljaba , published by Petrona Rosende de Sierra, an advocate of women's rights. Advertised before the appearance of La Argentina , and inaugurated a month later, La Aljaba was driven out of business after eighteen issues: the editor of La Argentina accused it of plagiarism. As the pun in its title suggests (aljaba means both "fuschia" and "quiver for arrows"), La Aljaba 's radical message was that "nos libraremos de las injusticias de los demás hombres, solamente cuando no existamos entre ellos."

At the same time that the female voice was attacked by men, it was also appropriated by them. During the political upheavals of the first half of the nineteenth century, the female voice and female print context were not infrequently usurped to express a masculine critique of society and government in times of censorship and surveillance.

It was in the latter half of the nineteenth century, with the widespread educational reform movements and the formation of activist women's groups, that women's print culture became more visible. The rights of women and workers were important concerns within the emerging political groups that would change society in much of Latin America. In the Southern Cone these groups owed much of their force to the waves of immigration and to the rapid urbanization of the period. In the north, activist women participated in the Cuban Independence movement and the Mexican Revolution, incorporating urgent programs of political and moral reform into the national agenda. Beginning in 1870, Mexican poet and educator Rita Cetina Gutiérrez collaborated with other women teachers to publish La Siempreviva , a newspaper dedicated to overcoming women's unequal status, improving hygiene, and educating mothers in nutrition and childcare. Brazilian Francisca Senhorina da Motta Diniz cast her arguments for women's equality in terms of progressivism and the moral superiority of the New World, invoking the national pride of the Brazilian politicians whom she addressed. The first issue of her journal O Sexo Feminino appeared on September 7, 1873, the fifty-first anniversary of Brazilian independence from Portugal, with the assertion that "the Americas will give the cry of independence for women."

The combination of greater access to basic education for women in many regions of Latin America, and therefore a wider reading public, the centralization of population in cities, European immigration, and the entrance of women into the wage labor force gave rise to a general acceleration of periodical literature by and for women at the turn of the century. Socialist and anarchist newspapers written for and directed by women coexisted with types of popular romance like the serialized novels of the beginning of the twentieth century.

In Brazil, the literate population of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro grew tenfold between 1890 and 1920. Women incorporated urgent programs of moral reform tied to social change. Formulating demands for legislation


against child labor, campaigns against prostitution, and civil rights for disfranchised groups of society, female political organizing found its most effective voice in periodicals of all kinds. The Revista Feminina , published and edited by Virgilina de Souza Selles in São Paulo from 1914 to 1927, printed between 20,000 and 25,000 copies of each issue in 1918. It was hailed by Brazilian women as "the first great work of our sex" and "an organ for intellectual communication" (Susan Besse, "Freedom and Bondage: The Impact of Capitalism on Women in São Paulo, Brazil, 1917–1937" [Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1983], 32).

Nearly a century of women's publishing in the anarchist and socialist press can be traced through the career and writings of Dr. Alicia Moreau de Justo. A feminist trained in France as a gynecologist, she emigrated to Argentina at the turn of the century. A leader in the Socialist Party from its founding by her husband, Juan B. Justo, Moreau directed and contributed to numerous feminist, anarchist, and socialist journals published from 1900 to the 1970s. Her work appeared, for example, in the anarchist Nuestra Causa (1910s) and the sophisticated, international Vida Femenina (a publication of the Socialist Party in the 1920s), and she served for many years as director of La Vanguardia , the major national newspaper of the Socialist Party. While she was director of La Vanguardia , the magazine published a regular women's supplement, La Vanguardia Femenina , which entertained the complex debates surrounding women's suffrage in the 1940s.

At the same time that some women were actively organizing for radical social protest, there emerged opposing currents espoused by traditionalist and right-wing groups. These too had their own periodical literature (well represented in this bibliography). What is most fascinating about this coexistence is that many groups with very different aims shared similar rhetorics about the special place and rights of women in society.

The visibility and partial success of the feminist and women's rights agenda forced its inclusion in male-dominated forms of journalism as well. Likewise, the potential of the female readership was not lost on the editors of the large daily and weekly publications. Popular Brazilian magazines of general interest such as A Cigarra vied to capture the female audience with features on fashion, sketches of prominent women in the professions and performing arts, articles on love, marriage, and feminism, and write-in advice columns. The work of women contributors began to appear in mainstream newspapers. Carolina Freyre published regularly in the Argentine daily La Nación while it was edited by her husband in the 1890s. Victoria Ocampo published her first essay (a commentary on Dante written in French) in the same daily in 1920. Feminist labor activist Juana María Beggino published in the general daily La Capital in Rosario, Argentina, in the 1910s. It is clear that by the end of World War I most major newspapers and journals recognized the existence of their female audiences. "Women's sections" appeared,


covering the most diverse topics, as did women contributors, altering the nature of mass periodical literature.

The magazines and periodicals listed below attest not only the reality of women's writing but also women's editing, printing, selling advertisements and subscriptions, planning, fighting censorship, and spending money—their own and other people's. (Victoria Ocampo and Clorinda Matto de Turner both founded publishing houses.) Little magazines everywhere are characterized by brief lifespans. Nevertheless, the short lives of most of the entries included here attest the hostile environment in which these activities were often carried out. The ephemeral character of many of the publications listed here should thus be read as a sign of struggle and scarcity; at the same time, the continuity of production and the reappearance of the same names on different mastheads bear witness to the steadiness and determination with which the work was carried on.

Unquestionably, these texts constitute an uninterrupted tradition of cultural practice. For women like Gorriti, Manso, Matto de Turner, and Storni, magazine work was an integral part of life as an intellectual and activist. Today, journalistic work remains an important activity for many women writers. Isabel Allende, for example, speaks of finding her comic voice writing a women's column titled "Civilice su troglodita." Women poets and novelists are main contributors to fem , the Mexican periodical founded in 1976 and the most prominent representative of the contemporary feminist magazine. Its continuous publication since that date, its wide range of Latin American and international contributors, and its commitment to controversy have won it particular distinction. Where women have not controlled their own presses and magazines, they have gained access to political and cultural periodicals of general interest published by men. Progressive periodicals in most countries and periods are important sources for tracing women's writing and debates on women's rights. In Cuba, for example, research indicates that since the revolution in 1959 the most detailed sources for information on feminism and the status of women are the general periodicals Revolución and Bohemia .

While the history of women's periodical literature differs at many points from that of its male counterpart, other continuities are shared. Both developed in relation to a growing reading public, the emergence of new political ideologies, the spread of mass education, and the professionalization of the writer. We know that the first novel in Latin America, El periquillo sarniento , was written by a journalist. The development of the essay as a literary form is especially crucial in the study of Latin American thought and letters, and this is mainly a result of the large numbers of writers and statesmen who found their widest audiences and greatest source of financial support through the periodical.

For lettered members of both genders, journalism played an important


role in unifying different areas of Latin America. As the major poles of urban culture in the late nineteenth century, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, and Buenos Aires served as magnets attracting contributors and publications of all kinds. Literary journals like Revista Azul and Revista de América , though devoted almost solely to belles lettres, showed the high impact that specialized journals could achieve in unifying literary culture. A major newspaper, La Nación of Buenos Aires, showed its range by employing as correspondents the Cuban José Martí and the Nicaraguan Rubén Darío. The impact of journalism on the shaping of genres (for example, the essay, the crónica , the serial, the short story) cannot be underestimated. As a means of support for the intellectual, whether female or male, journalism had no peer, especially once the role of the writer was no longer systematically linked to a directive role in political or economic affairs.

In the twentieth century, journals such as Amauta in Peru and the Revista de Avance in Cuba show the workings of the intelligentsia as a force for social change. It is with Sur , founded by Victoria Ocampo in Argentina, that one can perhaps best measure the intense impact of a long-lived literary journal in Latin America. Testimonials from many writers attest the influence that this journal, under Ocampo's direction, had in the Spanish-speaking world. What is less widely recognized, however, is that Ocampo was an inheritor of a tradition of women's as well as men's journalistic participation. Her work, while certainly the best known by a woman, has a long heritage in Latin America, one inspired by the most diverse of causes.

A relevant counterpoint to the materials presented here is found in the history of women's periodicals and feminist journalism in Iberia. Here Spain's long tradition of conservative, Catholic ideology weighs heavily. During the enlightened mid-eighteenth century, a distinct protest against women's oppression was voiced in La Pensadora Gaditana (1768), a weekly twenty-four-page essay by Beatriz Cienfuegos. With the return to despotism, Madrid's flourishing periodical literature was decimated in 1823–1824, just as Spain's newly independent colonies were beginning to explore the possibilities of the secular, liberal state. The "first" Spanish women's magazine, Correo de las Damas (1833), was an adaptation of a French publication. Journals advocating women's political participation and emancipation through education did not reappear until 1841, when the monthly Gobierno Representativo y Constitución del Bello Sexo began appearing in Madrid. Cádiz, a port city in contact with Europe and Latin America and site of the liberal constitution of 1812, was a center for Fourierist feminism. There, socialist feminism found its first clear expression in El Pensil Gaditano , which later became El Pensil Ibérico (1857–1859). This pioneering publication compared the mechanisms of women's oppression with those of class.

El Pensil was shut down by the Church, and the journal Ellas: Órgano Oficial del Sexo Femenino (1851) capitulated to misogynist pressures. But direct


repression was not the worst obstacle to feminist publication in Spain. Elite women's periodicals advocated the education of women only in the interest of upper-class women's conformity to the role of nurturer of Christian citizens. They disclaimed any challenge to orthodox class structure and gender roles. The Church and women of the Castilian aristocracy and the Catalan industrialist bourgeoisie combined forces to publish and organize paternalistic efforts such as the promisingly titled La Mujer Que Vive de Su Trabajo (1906). This publication was devoted to moral and religious education aimed at controlling the increasingly dangerous class of female industrial and domestic workers. The conservative, antisuffragist Asociación National de Mujeres Españolas (1918) claimed to speak for "los intereses feministas de España," despite the dissent of other feminists. In addition, Catalan regionalism, which became a nationalist movement at the turn of the century, was reflected in conservative women's journals like Or i grana: Setmanari autonomist per les dones, propulsor d'una lliga patriotica de damas (1906).

Some well-known nineteenth-century feminists published in journals of their own, such as Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda's La Ilustración: Album del Bello Sexo (1845) and Emilia Pardo Bazán's Nuevo Teatro Crítico (1891–1893). In the 1870s and 1880s, women's publications such as Ilustración de la Mujer (1882–1887) and liberal publications reflected Krausist support of women's education for emancipation and social change. Likewise, during the Second Republic and the Civil War, women on the left like Dolores Ibarruri (La Pasionaria) participated in socialist, communist, and anarcho-syndicalist organizations and their publications. They also addressed specifically female audiences in journals affiliated with a range of political organizations, including Pasionaria's Mujeres: Órgano de la Agrupación de Mujeres Antifascistas (1936). In 1936 the autonomous anarchist women's organization Mujeres Libres was founded. Its collectivized publication Mujeres Liberes , studied by Mary Nash, reflects anarchist theory and practice in its focus on the necessity of women's education not only as mothers but also as cultural and political participants.

From 1939 to 1976 little feminist activity surfaced in Spain, but immediately following the establishment of the elected government, Lidia Falcón and other feminists began such publications as Vindicación Feminista . Basic research on Spanish women's periodicals can be found in María Isabel Marrades and Adolfo Perinat, Mujer, prensa, y sociedad en España, 1800–1939 (Madrid: Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas, 1980); Mary Nash, "Mujeres Libres," España, 1936–39 (Barcelona: Tusquets, 1976); Geraldine Scanlon, La polémica feminista en la España contemporánea (1868–1974) (Madrid: Siglo XXI, 1976); and Isabel Segura and Marta Selva, Revistes de dones, 1846–1935 (Barcelona: Edhasa, 1984). An important research project that remains to be undertaken is an investigation of the connections and lines of communication between Spanish and Portuguese feminist movements and their Latin American counterparts.


Study of the history of Latin American periodical literature is increasing. In relation to the interaction of male-dominated journalism with literary culture, scholars such as Boyd Carter and Aníbal González have traced this role for the high-culture literary movements of the late nineteenth century. Angel Rama's La ciudad letrada is a fundamental source on the general history of print culture in Latin America. A number of feminist scholars have recently been engaged in the study of women's periodicals, and their work has opened doors to areas of research unheeded by mainstream historiographers. Early critics such as Lily Sosa de Newton of Argentina or Jane Herrick of the United States have set the course for the study of periodicals in Argentina and Mexico City, respectively. Susan Kent Besse's study of women's movements in early twentieth century São Paulo contains a wealth of information on women's periodical writings. The massive bibliographical compilation of Meri Knaster has been of capital importance to us in this study. Knaster's annotated bibliography, while designed to cover all aspects of women's social existence in Spanish America, grants considerable attention to literary periodicals. We are indebted to Silvia Arrom, June Hahner, and Asuncion Lavrín, all of whom have compiled considerable data about the publications of Latin American women. In their independent research projects, these scholars have earned distinction for stimulating what will certainly be a vast and fruitful terrain for future scholarship.

Though our research makes clear that literate women have not been nearly so isolated from one another as scholars and historians have often assumed, it is equally true that their dialogue remains largely hidden to us. Feminist historians have used some of the magazines as resources, but little attention has been paid to them as historical and cultural artifacts. The magazines themselves are often inaccessible—found, when they can be traced at all, in rare book rooms or private collections in Latin America, Europe, and the United States. They have not been microfilmed and are usually printed on paper that disintegrates rapidly. They constitute a critical, and often missing, link in the documentation of women's thoughts and actions, a link that not only can clarify the evolution of feminist thought and practice in modern history but also could provide a stronger basis from which to build contemporary feminism. In presenting this working bibliography we seek to open yet another route to reconstructing ideas, strategies, goals, and achievements that may until now have been lost to women working for social justice.


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