A Small Revolution: Family, Sex and the Communist Youth of Chile during the Allende Years (1970-1973)

Spring 2015

This article discusses the way in which Chilean communists addressed sexuality and family life during the Popular Unity Government (1970-1973). Focusing on communist youth, the article provides a close reading of the youth-oriented magazine Ramona analysing the discussions about contentious issues - premarital sex, birth control, family arrangements, marital breakups, abortion and homosexuality - and discusses the underlining tensions between older and younger generations of the Communist Party. Although young communists upheld some of the conservative beliefs of the traditional communist subculture, they approached the changing patterns in sex and family in a much more flexible way and ultimately challenged the mores (and therefore indirectly, the authority) of the old guard. The young communists who published Ramona advised their readers to engage in sexual relationships even if they were not conducive to marriage, recommended different birth control mechanisms to practice safe sex, and did not hold back from suggesting divorce to those whose marriages had failed. In the broader scholarly discussion, this generational emphasis casts new light on the relationship between the sexual and political revolutions in Latin America during the 1960s and 1970s, stressing the shared cultural sensibilities of young left-wingers as a whole.