“They don't even look like women workers”: Femininity and Class in Twentieth-Century Latin America

Barbara Weinstein

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Recent research on consumer culture and working-class femininity in the United States has argued that attention to fashionable clothing and dime novels did not undermine female working-class identities, but rather provided key resources for creating those identities. In this essay I consider whether we can see a similar process of appropriation by working-class women in Latin America. There women employed in factories had to contend with widespread denigration of the female factory worker. Looking first at the employer-run “Centers for Domestic Instruction” in São Paulo, I argue that “proper femininity” in these centers—frequented by large numbers of working-class women—reflected middle-class notions of the skilled housewife, and situated working-class women as nearly middle class. What we see is a process of “approximation,” not appropriation. I then look at the case of Argentina (especially Greater Buenos Aires) where Peronism also promoted “traditional” roles for working-class women but where Eva Perón emerges as a working-class heroine. The figure of Evita—widely reviled by women of the middle and upper classes—becomes a means to construct an alternative, class-based femininity for working-class women.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)161-176
    Number of pages16
    JournalInternational Labor and Working-Class History
    Volume69
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2006

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    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • History
    • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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