Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Gendered fearmongering in Chile

Margaret Power, "The Engendering of Anticommunism and Fear in Chile's 1964 Presidential Election." Diplomatic History 32, 5 (November 2008): 931-953. [sorry, full text is gated]

This article discusses how the U.S. government successfully employed ideas about gender and the politics of fear to engender and intensify anticommunism, an aspect of U.S. foreign policy toward Chile that has been largely ignored. It also examines how the Chilean Left responded to the Scare Campaign. My analysis of leftist discourse reveals that although the Left shared many of their opponents' assumptions about gendered identities, it also entertained some different ideas about the role of women in Chilean society.

Of course, much has been written about U.S. policy in Chile in the 1960s. In this article, Power focuses specifically on the consciously gendered nature of the media attention aimed at Salvador Allende in the months leading up to the 1964 election, which he lost to Eduardo Frei.* It was funded by the U.S. government, but welcomed and shaped by the Chilean right, which was happy for the assistance.

This highlights the fact that women's votes were crucial to winning elections in Chile, and so the propaganda was very shrewdly employed to great effect. The project focused on radio, because that provided the largest female audience. Powers quotes a variety of programs and interviews telling women that, for example, if Allende were elected their children would be taken from them by force and sent to the USSR.

It always focused on women's roles as wives and mothers, and interestingly even the FRAP's rebuttals remained within the commonly accepted idea that women should be in the home (emphasizing that only socialism could provide mothers with the resources they needed for their children).

This is the sort of analysis that should be expanded and applied comparatively. The old fashioned notion of communism is no longer relevant, but the contemporary left is obviously often the target of criticism. To what degree is that criticism gendered? For example, is there a message for women about Mauricio Funes and the FMLN in El Salvador?

* It does not, however, explain why those same arguments failed in 1970, when Allende won.


sharon 5:45 AM  

thanks for the information....

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