A Nation of Women: An Early Feminist Speaks Out: Mi Opinión Sobre las Libertades, Derechos y Deberes de la Mujer

A Nation of Women: An Early Feminist Speaks Out: Mi Opinión Sobre las Libertades, Derechos y Deberes de la Mujer

A Nation of Women: An Early Feminist Speaks Out: Mi Opinión Sobre las Libertades, Derechos y Deberes de la Mujer

A Nation of Women: An Early Feminist Speaks Out: Mi Opinión Sobre las Libertades, Derechos y Deberes de la Mujer

Synopsis

Luisa Capetillo is best known in popular culture as the first woman to wear men's trousers. The splash of recognition following her arrest and acquittal for her choice of clothing in 1915, today overshadows her significant contributions to the women's movement and the anarchist labor movements, both in her native Puerto Rico and in the migrant labor belt that stretched along the Eastern United States, from Tampa to New York. This volume combines a facsimile of the original Spanish edition with a new English translation of Capetillo's landmark Mi opinion sobre las libertades, derechos y deberes de la mujer, originally published in Spanish in 1911. Mi opinion is considered by many to be the first feminist treatise in Puerto Rico and one of the first in Latin America and the Caribbean. In concise prose, Capetillo advocates a worker's and women. Her essays challenge big business in favor of socialism, and she calls for legalizing divorce and the acceptance of "free love" in relationships between men and women. Her writing also covers a swath of other topics, veering into passages concerning sexuality, mental and physical health, hygiene, spirituality, and nutrition. At once a sharp critique and a celebration of the gathering fervor of world politics, Capetillo views both her native Puerto Rico and the world outside, providing a sense of the workers movement and the condition of women at the turn of the century. Capetillo embraces the humanistic thinking of the early twentieth century and envisions a world in which economic and social structures can be broken down, allowing both the worker and the woman to be free.

Excerpt

It is not uncommon for academics working on a historical figure such as feminist and anarchist writer Luisa Capetillo (1879–1922) to be shocked by the fact that some of the author’s work has never been translated or reprinted. One is often convinced that the writings of notables like Capetillo have not received substantial public attention and analysis. This has been my experience with Luisa Capetillo since I became familiar with her work as a graduate student in the late 1980s. It was inconceivable to me that the author of Puerto Rico’s earliest feminist treatise and one of the most fascinating political and literary figures of early twentieth century Puerto Rico had received such limited scholarly attention. It was downright appalling to find out that her four books—including Mi opinión acerca de las libertades, derechos y deberes de la mujer—published between 1907 and 1917 had never been reprinted in Puerto Rico or elsewhere in Latin America for that matter. As I continued my own research on Puerto Rican women’s history, I still could not believe that Capetillo’s works were not easily available to students and general audiences in Puerto Rico. Convinced that such an obvious omission was due to attract the attention or interest of one of my many fine literary or humanities colleagues in Puerto Rico, I decided to focus on making Capetillo’s most important work available to readers in English.

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