By Ivette Romero-Cesareo
In 1990 I interviewed Puerto Rican women–feminist critics, sociologists, and writers–for a project on Caribbean women’s discourse. What I found to be a trend among many young, feminist scholars and writers was that even those with separatist political views ascribed responsibility for the Puerto Rican feminist movement there to North American influence, dating from the first part of the century to the present. They explained that, due to the incorporation of women into the work force (referring to both production on the island and massive emigration of female factory workers to the eastern United States), women were able to get away from their homes and participate in activities other than domestic work and childbearing. One sociologist even pointed out a “positive” side effect of the United States’ policy of promoting massive sterilization in Puerto Rico since 1947: that of allowing for the insertion of more women into the work force by controlling pregnancies.