“Mexicanas engaged in a political practice that transcended borders and forged alliances between women from Mexico and women and men from Texas and other parts of the globe. Yet, they and other like- minded women used the language of compañerismo to promote the idea of women and women workers as equal to men, and not as second- class citizens, nor simply loyal compañeras to their men, as the state discourse outlined.”
In her 2015 Frontier article, Associate Professor Sonia Hernández revisits the Mexican(a) Labor Movement from 1910-1940. Research on labor movements tends to focus on men, and Hernández argues that the “Mexicanas who worked toward the goal of labor justice seem to have been both archivally and historiographically missed.” However, through an intersectional and transnational feminist research framework, Hernández finds among Mexicana workers “a possibility of some kind of solidarity— uneven at times, but one that should acknowledge the way in which it is composed and practiced through the multiple prisms of race, gender, ethnicity, color, sexuality, language, region, nation- state, and philosophy.”
The article, awarded the Outstanding Article Prize from the Latin American Studies Association, examines how Mexicanas during this particular moment in time were able to challenge state discourses to promote themselves as productive citizens and argue for gender equality. Hernández offers the example of Esther Mendoza, “whose writings appeared in Tampico, Mexico City, and Monterrey. Mendoza employed the compañera rhetoric yet did so promoting a discourse on gender equality that offered a radical alternative to the basic ‘support your compañero’ rhetoric.”
Additionally, Hernández highlights the ways in which women have shaped working movements and Mexican-American relations. Women in Mexico and Mexicanas in the United States became well aware of the struggles in the labor movements at the time and inspired radical action from both sides of the border. Hernández recalls the voices of women such as Domitila Jiménez and Caratina Piña, both radical for their time, leading a labor movement fighting for all Mexicans, even as Mexico still denied suffrage to its female population.
Check out Hernández’s 2014 award-winning book Working Women into the Borderlands.