By Susana Vargas

The photographs presented here portray highly sexualised subjects taking centre stage within the images, smiling provocatively at the photographer, and reversing the power dynamics between the photographer and the photographed. These photographs were shown in the magazine Alarma! Únicamente la Verdad! (Hereafter Alarma) during the 1970s. Alarma is the definitive example of the Nota Roja, published weekly since 1963 and finally ending its publication in 2014. Nota Roja designates periodical publications with gruesome textual and photographic content, newspaper sections that deal with violent events, or sensationalist television, tainted with morbidity. Mujercitos, the term coined during the mid-1960s by Carlos Zamayoa, Alarma’seditor-in-chief at the time, was used as a synonym for “effeminate man,” playing with the notion of gender through a grammatical feminisation of the male subject by adding a comedic pun.

In the photographs presented here of mujercitos, the subjects are not shown dead, burned, or through mutilated body parts, which is what one would expect from Alarma. On the contrary, for twenty-three consecutive years (1963-1986), Alarm ran one story every month, with an average circulation of half a million, of mujercitos posing for the camera.

Mujercitos, either willingly or at the request of the Alarma photographer, are posing for the camera. By “posing,” I mean those photographs in which mujercitos occupy and take centre stage of the photograph. In their poses I read a performative act that is an intentional move on the part of photographic subjects to take control of their images. As such, I argue that these photographs work as a site of resistance to and subversion of many different forms of violence in Mexico.