"They don't even look like women workers"

femininity and class in twentieth-century latin America

Barbara Weinstein

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

    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
    StatePublished - Mar 2006

    Fingerprint

    Working class
    Femininity
    Latin America
    20th century
    Women workers
    Working Class
    Workers
    Middle Class
    Factory
    Appropriation
    Middle class
    Resources
    Approximation
    Employers
    Consumer culture
    Argentina
    Upper Class
    Consumer Culture
    Buenos Aires
    Clothing

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • History

    Cite this

    "They don't even look like women workers" : femininity and class in twentieth-century latin America. / Weinstein, Barbara.

    In: International Labor and Working-Class History, Vol. 69, 03.2006, p. 161-176.

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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