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The KUT Longhorn Radio Network Presents: Mexican American Experience Collection

Audio recordings including interviews, music, and informational programs related to the Mexican American community and their concerns in the series "The Mexican American Experience" and "A esta hora conversamos" from the Longhorn Radio Network, 1976-1982.

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Social Classes And Women In Aztec Society
Program #

History, Women's Issues
Linda Fregoso
Iris Blanco
Dec 28, 1981

Social Classes and Women in Aztec Society

Linda Fregoso interviews historian Iris Blanco about the role of women in Aztec society before and after the conquest. Blanco explains that the Spaniards who conquered Tenochtitlan and subsequent historians have mystified Aztec society. The Chicano Movement often idealized it, while ignoring its pervasive inequality. These interpretations not only mask the complexity of Aztec society, but also ignore the very diverse roles women in different class occupied. She explains that while noble women were highly protected, they were also highly repressed. She talks about the structure of Aztec noble families and the practice of polygamy.

She next looks at women of the popular class, whose work sustained Aztec society. She examines how these women cared for their children and husband while working an outside job. They had more freedom than noblewomen, but also more responsibility and she describes some of their occupations. She also explains that while men could move upwards in society through wartime heroics, a woman could only increase her status by dying in childbirth, which elevated her to the status of a goddess. Blanco then discusses her research on oficiales, women where specialized artisans and the internal stratification of their work.

Blanco then talks about how the Spanish conquest altered Aztec society. She explains that many Aztec noblewomen lost status. She discusses how missionaries sought to win the favor of Aztec nobility by protecting Aztec women from Spanish mistreatment. She also discusses how missionaries have left their mark on the historical record.


Center for Mexican American Studies | Department of History | The Benson Latin American Collection

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