Feminist Incognito: The American Working Woman Essay

Feminist Incognito: The American Working Woman Essay

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“…By fifteen most girls were introduced to society. At eighteen, they married; by their mid-twenties to thirties they retired from childbearing.” My grandmother, on the other hand, took a train ride at twenty-six and a year after became an independent woman of business supported by her three years in primary school. The trajectory of her life was not an aberration altogether. In fact, it has been pointed out that, “Mexicans were transient laborers first pulled into this country though the railway lines” (Downs et al, pg. 17). And that’s exactly how and why she got to the Juarez-El Paso border region in the sixties. Yet, she stands out from most of the sixties population in urban society in that she was a woman, a widow, an immigrant and the sole source of income for her five children under the age of eight. Her life can be seen through a lens of the course of marriage, immigration and work—all precursors in chasing after ideals of a 20th century feminist woman in a not-so feminist environment.
“After the privations of Depressions and disruptions of war, many people craved the emotional reassurance of early marriage and stable family life” (McArthur et al, pg. 139). The Depression was a time period which affected Americans and Mexicans alike. My grandmother remembers a time when, “jobs were scare,” and the population of 400 of rural El Remolino, Juchipila (her hometown) faced grim results in the agriculture industry.
In line with rural tradition and the oncoming trend of marrying at a younger age, she married at the age of eighteen. At first, her life consisted of caring for her family, household chores and occasionally administering and working at her family’s business, a local convenience store (still in business today). Thin...

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...nist ideals. The Mexican working woman, on the other hand, was less aware of her role as a feminist. To her, feminism meant becoming a vital breadwinner for her family, disenfranchising herself from constricted religious views and independently seeking a better future for her children. The borderland served as the perfect motley in which both kinds of women clashed against any and all views opposing women’s success, serving as the exemplary sector for the rising working-class feminist woman; I’m glad to acknowledge my grandmother was part of this movement as a feminist incognito.

Works Cited

Downs, Fane, and Nancy Baker. Jones. Women and Texas History: Selected Essays. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1993. Print.
McArthur, Judith N., and Harold L. Smith. Texas through Women's Eyes: The Twentieth-century Experience. Austin: U of Texas, 2010. Print.

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