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Speak Up About It: A warrior woman perseveres through hardship and fights for what is right..


Here in summer of 2020, it makes sense that I want to surround myself with images of warrior women of action. The woman in this photo represents “Adelita” a term that personified women soldaderas in the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920. The term soldadera covered all the different ways that women gave support to military actions, including cooking, tending to the wounded, and keeping general order in the camps. However, a greater number of women took up arms and even lead in battle during these revolutionary times. Women made the choice to join the war efforts for many different reasons and without a doubt, it provided a path out of the societally proscribed roles for women of all classes. The Soldaderas were essential in waging the revolutionary struggle and they were known for their bravery and endurance during this bloody civil war. 


The story of “Adelita” has not been without controversy.  In the decades after the war, efforts were made to devalue the importance women’s military role and portray them as camp followers and prostitutes. Later on, a new stereotype emerged. You might have seen the popularized posters of women in low cut blouses wearing rifles and bandoliers. Delia Fernandez, feminist scholar describes it this way, “….if you put a gun on them it makes them sexy and dangerous at the same time……[This] really negates the ideas of the toughness, the mestizo toughness, the physical toughness that the women brought with them and their contributions.”


After making this piece, I found out that that this image is not of an actual Soldadera but is a photograph taken in 1940 by Rutilo Patina was meant represent the spirit of Adelita which has come to stand for any woman who fights for justice. In the 1960’s, Chicana activists like Dolores Huerta, Gloria Saldura and many others reclaimed the story of the Soldaderas to honor their perseverance and strength and to continue to fight for women’s right to be treated equally by male counterparts in the political struggle. Even now, she remains an inspiring archetype of a women warrior.


For more reading on this topic check out:


Fernandez, Delia (2009). From Soldadera to Adelita: The Depiction of Women in the Mexican Revolution.


Sala, Elizabeth (1990). Soldaderas in the Mexican Military: Myth and History. University of Texas Press.

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