In a new society where female workers were seen as invaluable to the revolutionary cause, Cuban women were faced with what Julia E. Sweig refers to as the doble jornada or the double day. Women were expected to work hard during the day at their jobs and then come home at night and take care of their children and husbands. After the unfairness of this double standard was brought to public attention by the Federación de Mujeres Cubanas, the Cuban government passed the 1975 Family Code into law. The purpose of this law was to legally mandate equality for women in the home. Sweig argues that the Family Code was able to create a noticeable change in the distribution of household labor with men taking on a greater share of chores than had been previously seen in Cuba.
While the enactment of the Family Code seems to be a pioneering step towards gender equality, certain aspects of the law serve to enforce stereotypical gender roles. As Smith and Padula point out, the greater goal of the Family Code was to strengthen the idea of the importance of the Cuban family and therefore heterosexual marriage. It is through this goal that an otherwise progressive law potentially functions to reinforce the notion that a women’s duty is to be a mother and wife even if these roles were more equitably defined then they had previously been. If, as the Family Code suggests, women and men can serve the revolution by joining together in marriage and produce children, then little room is left for women who don’t follow this path. Saunders outlines how Cuban lesbians are particularly affected by the Family Code. Because the Family Code incorporates heterosexual monogamy into the frame of Cuban morality, lesbian women are prevented from being moral citizens by nature of their homosexuality.
Saunders, Tanya L. “Black Women, Gender and Families.” Project Muse 4.1, 2010. Print.
Smith, Lois M., and Padula, Alfred. Sex and the Revolution: Women in Socialist Cuba. New York: Oxford UP, 1996. Print.
Sweig, Julia E. Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2009. Print.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.