Chapter 1

WOMAN SUFFRAGE is a recent issue in Mexican politics. The traditional lack of concern about political rights for Mexican women was the reflection of a society hardly conscious that such a problem existed. Mexican politics had always been essentially a masculine activity; even among men it was the concern of a small politically active group in which the vast majority took little part. The activities of Mexican women had always been confined mainly to home, family, and Church. To be sure, Mexico has had its share of active and courageous heroines to play vital and dramatic roles at every stage in its crisis-filled history, but until recently neither men nor women seriously considered the possibility of women participating equally with men in national politics. The nineteenth-century feminist movements in Europe and the United States produced only faint echoes in Mexico. No Mexican counterparts of Susan B. Anthony or Mrs. Henry Fawcett emerged in Porfirian Mexico to attract a great national following and lead a crusade for women's rights to the accompaniment of dramatic and even scandalous headlines in the newspapers.

The Constitution of 1857 did not explicitly exclude women from voting and holding office, but the election laws restricted the suffrage to males, and in practice women did not participate nor demand a part in politics. Señorita Manzanera del Campo, in a recent study of political rights, correctly summed up the viewpoint of politicians under the 1857 charter: "It is indisputable that the attitude of the legislature under the Constitution of 1857 was one of indifference with respect to the feminine element of our country."1 Early in the reign of don Porfirio a few small socialist journals


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Woman Suffrage in Mexico


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