Women Framing Women: Gender Roles and Agency in the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

Amelia Threefoot Esenstad

Abstract


This study uses framing theory to examine how women in the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) frame themselves and their roles. Eleven documents written by women in the movement are analyzed using content analysis to collect quantitative and qualitative data. Results show that women most frequently frame themselves in untraditional roles, rather than traditional or neutral roles, but infrequently demonstrate agency in these roles. The frequency of untraditional roles exhibits a progressive view of Zapatista women, yet the lack of total deviation from tradition reflects an adherence to historical norms. The instances of agency that do appear help to demonstrate a sense of empowerment among the women as they become more vocal in expressing the personal role they play in deciding the roles they take on. My findings contribute a deeper understanding of women’s roles and gender in the EZLN as well as provide a new perspective on the ways in which women are framed in the movement. Limitations and areas of further researched are discussed.


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