With this book, Karin Rosemblatt presents a gendered history of the
politics and political compromise that emerged in Chile during the
1930s and 1940s, when reformist popular-front coalitions held
power. While other scholars have focused on the economic
realignments and novel political pacts that characterized Chilean
politics during this era, Rosemblatt explores how gender helped
shape Chile's evolving national identity.
Rosemblatt examines how and why the aims of feminists, socialists,
labor activists, social workers, physicians, and political leaders
converged around a shared gender ideology. Tracing the complex
negotiations surrounding the implementation of new labor, health,
and welfare policies, she shows that professionals in health and
welfare agencies sought to regulate gender and sexuality within the
working class and to consolidate the male-led nuclear family as the
basis of societal stability. Leftists collaborated in these efforts
because they felt that strong family bonds would generate a sense
of class belonging and help unify the Left, while feminists
perceived male familial responsibility as beneficial for women.
Diverse actors within civil society thus reworked the norms of
masculinity and femininity developed by state agencies and
political leaders--even as others challenged those ideals.