In 1981 and 1982, Carole Isaacs and Julia Lesage visited Nicaragua and did in-depth interviews with women in the Managua area. Here Nicaraguan women speak about the topics of work, sexual politics, religion, family life, children, social participation, and defense.
00:00Copy video clip URL Title and credits.
00:29Copy video clip URL Julia Lesage provides some background on the work that went into making this video. Lesage, along with Carole Isaacs, interviewed Nicaraguan women in 1981 and 1982 and created this script as a “dramatization and condensation” of their stories.
01:29Copy video clip URL “Voices.” Kathy Lanahan, a friend of Lesage and Isaacs, talks about her motivation for getting involved in the project. “It concerns women, and the concerns of women and the affairs of women, as far as I’m concerned, are one of the most important things that anybody can get themselves involved in.”
03:12Copy video clip URL Melissa Littig talks about her experiences making this tape. “In the midst of our rehearsal process, Illinois failed to ratify the ERA [Equal Rights Amendment], and I began to realize how much I really wanted to be a part of this communion between two cultures of women.”
03:45Copy video clip URL Shona Tucker found a number of similarities between the experience of women in revolutionary Nicaragua and that of African Americans in the United States. “When I got the script and began to read the descriptions of the things that the women went through, I felt an immediate empathy–not sympathy, empathy–for these women.”
05:36Copy video clip URL Stills of the Nicaraguan countryside are shown while women talk about their experiences before the Nicaraguan revolution.
09:36Copy video clip URL In this next section, “The Uprising Against Somoza,” the women talk about their experiences in combat. Rape and torture were widespread fears, and many had to leave their children behind to fight. Families often hid guns and bombs around the house in the event that enemy factions came through town.
15:33Copy video clip URL One woman remembers helping a young mother give birth during a bombardment. The mother rested for an hour and a half, and then walked with the baby to her house, several miles away.
17:41Copy video clip URL In this section, “Family Life,” the women talk about gender roles and how life for women has changed since the Revolution.
24:05Copy video clip URL In “Rural Life,” women talk about farming communities. Many became active in the Revolution and gained housing and daycare, but the hours are still long and the work is still backbreaking.
26:54Copy video clip URL In “Maids,” women talk about going to work on haciendas and for upper-class families in the cities. Maid work is no longer fraught with the same kind of danger, but conditions are not ideal and unions are still fighting for improved rights.
28:34Copy video clip URL In “Sexual Politics,” the women talk about sex work and the use of rape as a tactic among Somoza’s Guardia. Despite improvements, one woman attests that prostitutes still make more money than most Nicaraguan women. Another recounts being raped by police for putting up political posters–her story was used by Fernando Cardenal when he testified against Somoza before the United States Congress.
31:28Copy video clip URL The women talk about birth control and sexual mores. “The double standard is an epidemic in all of Latin America,” one woman says. Homosexuality is not open or widely discussed in Nicaragua. Post-Revolution, many women are fighting to end domestic violence.
37:06Copy video clip URL In “Children,” the women discuss how the Revolution affected Nicaragua’s youngest residents. “We have a huge problem here with rich kids who often oppose the Revolution because they spent the war abroad or in well-protected mansions or on plantations,” one woman says. The women then talk about their experiences in public and Catholic schools growing up.
43:29Copy video clip URL In “The Process of Making a Revolution,” the women talk about a number of topics, including public health and the creation of block committees, as well as the experience of women in the military.
47:33Copy video clip URL End credits.
48:10Copy video clip URL End of tape.