An account of one of the first anarchist-feminist group in Argentina in the 1890s (see Maxine Molyneux’s “No God, No Boss, No Husband: Anarchist Feminism in Nineteenth-Century Argentina”(Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 13, No. 1, Latin America’s Nineteenth-Century History, Winter, 1986).
One of the world’s first explicitly anarchist-feminist group was created as part of the thriving nineteenth-century Anarchist movement in Argentina. It produced the first anarcha-feminist newspaper, La Voz de la Mujer. Sadly, the history of anarchist-feminism in Argentina has rarely been acknowledged, at best mentioned in passing, at worse ignored or forgotten.
La Voz de la Mujer was published in Buenos Aires only nine times, beginning on January 8, 1896 and ending almost exactly one year later on New Year’s Day. Its donors included “Women Avengers Group,” “One Who Wants to Fill a Cannon with the Heads of the Bourgeois,” “Long Live Dynamite,” “Long Live Free Love,” “A Feminist,” “A Female Serpent to Devour the Bourgeois,” “Full of Beer,”“A Man Friendly to Women.” Most of it was written in Spanish, with only occasional items in Italian. This is not surprising, as it was primarily from Spain that anarchist feminism came to Argentina. Even the feminist material in the Italian press was written largely by Spanish authors. Another version of the paper and bearing its name was published in the provincial town of Rosario (its editor, Virginia Bolten was the only woman known to have been deported in 1902 under the Residence Law, which gave the government the power to expel immigrants active in political organizations). Another La Voz de la Mujer was published in Montevideo, where Bolten was exiled to.
La Voz de la Mujer described itself as “dedicated to the advancement of Communist Anarchism.” Its central theme was that of the multiple nature of women’s oppression. An editorial asserted, “We believe that in present-day society nothing and nobody has a more wretched situation than unfortunate women.” Women, they said, were doubly oppressed – by bourgeois society and by men. Its feminism can be seen from its attack on marriage and upon male power over women. Its contributors, like anarchist feminists elsewhere, developed a concept of oppression that focused on gender oppression. Marriage was a bourgeois institution which restricted women’s freedom, including their sexual freedom. Marriages entered into without love, fidelity maintained through fear rather than desire, oppression of women by men they hated – all were seen as symptomatic of the coercion implied by the marriage contract. It was this alienation of the individual’s will that the anarchist feminists deplored and sought to remedy, initially through free love and then, and more thoroughly, through social revolution.
La Voz de la Mujer was a paper written by women for women, it was an independent expression of an explicitly feminist current within South America’s labour movement and was one of the first recorded instances of the fusion of feminist ideas with a revolutionary and working-class orientation. As with Emma Goldman, Louise Michel and Voltairine de Cleyre, it differed from the mainstream feminism by being a working class movement which placed the struggle against patriarchy as part of a wider struggle against economic and social classes and hierarchies. It was not centred on educated middle-class women, whose feminism was dismissed as a “bourgeois” or “reformist.”
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