Soldaderas: The Mexican Revolution

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Without Las Soldaderas, there would not have been a Mexican Revolution. Soldaderas, sometimes called Adelitas after a famous corrido about a beautiful and feminine girl, were women who cared for and sometimes fought alongside men in the Mexican Revolutionary war. [Arrizón:90:1998] The name Soldadera comes from the Spanish word soldada, which is a term used to define the payment made to someone who cares for soldiers. Many times, such women were educated and motivated by ideology, rather than just a simple desire to accompany their men. Some of these soldaderas became great leaders and showed the bravery and strength that was so often dismissed in women. Though not all engaged in actual combat, and their roles were often overlooked, these women's…show more content…
These women would also retrieve bodies of killed soldiers from the field and search them for supplies and equipment. They informally performed the roles of commissary and supply departments and medical corps because most Mexican armies lacked these important facilities at the start of the Revolution. [Cook:2012] Soldaderas were used to transport the equipment for the soldiers and were almost always seen carrying cooking utensils, equipment, plants, and animals. Female soldiers who were not married often provided the same services a wife soldadera would to an unattached man. Some soldaderas became prostitutes and made themselves available for hire to those males seeking something more physical. In more extreme cases, soldaderas were even used as smugglers. They would bring ammunition and medicine from the United States into Mexico by hiding them under their skirts. They made good smugglers because American border officers did not see women as a possible threat with any attachment to the war. [Fuentes:541-543:1995]
Soldaderas had to ride on top of the railroad cars. This might have been preferred to walking, but left them exposed to the weather and the enemy. The army's horses were treated better than the soldaderas and rode inside the trains. This was due to the thought that women were expendable, while horses were seen as absolutely vital in combat. [Cook:2012] When they stayed behind the troops, soldaderas faced slaughter and rape from opposing armies who saw that eliminating them would provide an advantage.
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