Mujeres Libres

Barcelona, 1936 – 1938

Mujeres Libres was a magazine created in May 1936 by Mercedes Comaposada, Amparo Poch Gascón and Lucía Sánchez Saornil with the aim of ‘awakening female consciousness to libertarian ideas’ and emancipating women ‘from their threefold slavery: slavery of ignorance, slavery of women, and slavery of production’.

A total of 13 issues were published at irregular intervals. A women’s publication, it was written by women who did not define themselves as feminists, because they considered feminism a bourgeois movement. In the editorial for the first issue, they wrote that the terms feminism and masculinism had been superseded and that it was necessary to move towards comprehensive humanism, which would be achieved through revolution.

The first three issues included a variety of news on topics ranging from cinema to free love, as well as feature stories on professions and analysis of international events from a libertarian ideological perspective. From the fourth issue on, it became a publication of revolution and war. The content was closely linked to the role of women at that crucial historical moment; at the same time, it was the mouthpiece for spreading the word about the association’s activities. The organisation Mujeres Libres [Free Women] was officially founded in August 1936. Eventually, its membership swelled to 25,000, with a total of 147 sections across Spain.

Although the magazine took special care of the graphic aspect from the start, and its founders had always sought to include photographs, following the 1936 coup, the publication took a sharp turn, and drawings and photography took on definitive importance. It was then that Baltasar Lobo, Comaposada’s life partner, was placed in charge of the layout. Lobo was the main cover artist and the person responsible for most of the drawings that illustrated the inside pages, although pictures credited to Angel Lescarboura (‘Les’), Cándido Méndez Mazas or Máximo Viejo also sporadically appeared.

As for the photographs, most were not credited. However, those capturing the activities of the Casal de la Dona and all those related to Barcelona were taken by the Pérez de Rozas family. They also took the photographs for the booklet Actividades de la Federación Mujeres Libres [Activities of the Free Women Federation] (1937). Exceptionally, the magazine published images by Margaret Michaelis and Robert Capa, albeit uncredited, and the final issues included contributions y Kati Horna.