chicana feminism

Latina Girls Deserve More

Jesus Christ.
I’m going to rant for a hot second.
We’re either considered too black, too Latina, or too white.
If you’re mixed, you’ll never be considered a part of either culture.
Lighter skinned babies are idolized, but when they grow up, they’re no longer Hispanic enough.
Afro Latinas are too dark for many to consider Hispanic but not often considered a part of the black community.
LBTP+ Latinas are rarely recognized in LGBT+ groups and organizations.
Even light skinned Latinas are ignored by white feminists.
The “chola” style is ridiculed and considered “ghetto”, but fashionable on white girls.
Thick eyebrows on Latina girls are made fun of but on whites it’s yet another fashion statement.
The most famous and incredibly talented Latina artist is only noted for her eyebrows and not her art or story.
Speaking with a heavy accent is ridiculed.
Not speaking Spanish is ridiculed.
Deportation jokes, especially towards Mexicans, are considered ok by society.
Indigenous descent isn’t considered “native” to white standards.

I have so much more I am so angry.

Why I need Chicana feminism

Because I was taught to stay away from certain styles because they were too “mexican”. With phrases like “the bigger the hoop, the bigger the hole” when I loved wearing big earrings. Being told that red hair against my brown skin looked “ghetto” instead of fierce and bold. Wearing stylish flannels like the pretty pastel haired girls on tumblr and being told I look like a “chola”. Working hard to get rid of my slang because society taught me that it was “unflattering”. That bright red lips were too much. That my natural intense brows are now a makeup “fad”. When in reality all this shit was made up by people that want to put us down for claiming our own identity. 

You Bring Out the Mexican in Me

by Sandra Cisneros

You bring out the Mexican in me.
The hunkered thick dark spiral.
The core of a heart howl.
The bitter bile.
The tequila lágrimas on Saturday all
through next weekend Sunday.
You are the one I’d let go the other loves for,
surrender my one-woman house.
Allow you red wine in bed,
even with my vintage lace linens.
Maybe. Maybe.

For You.

You bring out the Dolores del Rio in me.
The Mexican spitfire in me.
The raw navajas, glint and passion in me.
The raise Caine and dance with the rooster-footed devil in me.
The spangled sequin in me.
The eagle and serpent in me.
The mariachi trumpets of the blood in me.
The Aztec love of war in me.
The fierce obsidian of the tongue in me.
The berrinchuda, bien-cabrona in me.
The Pandora’s curiosity in me.
The pre-Columbian death and destruction in me.
The rainforest disaster, nuclear threat in me.
The fear of fascists in me.
Yes, you do. Yes, you do.

You bring out the colonizer in me.
The holocaust of desire in me.
The Mexico City ’85 earthquake in me.
The Popocatepetl Ixtaccíhuatl in me.
The tidal wave of recession in me.
The Agustín Lara hopeless romantic in me.
The barbacoa taquitos on Sunday in me.
The cover the mirrors with cloth in me.

Sweet twin. My wicked other,
I am the memory that circles your bed nights,
that tugs you taut as moon tugs ocean.
I claim you all mine,
arrogant as Manifest Destiny.
I want to rattle and rent you in two.
I want to defile you and raise hell.
I want to pull out the kitchen knives,
dull and sharp, and whisk the air with crosses.
Me sacas lo mexicana en mi,
like it or not, honey.

You bring out the Uled-Nayl in me.
The stand-back-white-bitch in me.
The switchblade in the boot in me.
The Acapulco cliff diver in me.
The Flecha Roja mountain disaster in me.
The dengue fever in me.
The !alarma¡ murderess in me.
I could kill in the name of you and think
it worth it. Brandish a fork and terrorize rivals,
female and male, who loiter and look at you,
languid in your light. Oh,

I am evil. I am the filth goddess Tlazoltéotl.
I am the swallower of sins.
The lust goddess without guilt.
The delicious debauchery. You bring out
the primordial exquisiteness in me.
The nasty obsession in me.
The corporal and venial sin in me.
The original transgression in me.

Red ocher. Yellow ocher. Indigo. Cochineal.
Piñón. Copal. Sweetgrass. Myrhh.
All you saints, blessed and terrible,
Virgen de Guadalupe, diosa Coatlicue,
I invoke you.

Quiero ser tuya. Only yours. Only you.
Quiero amarte. Atarte. Amarrarte.
Love the way a Mexican woman loves. Let
me show you. Love the only way I know how.

‘Mujeres Revolucionarias/ Revolutionary Women’
photo by: Chris Barberena (me)

I have truly understood that I am supposed to be sharing my photographs with the world. It is something that has taken me about seven years to understand.

These are modern womyn depicting strength and resilience. Paying homage to their hermanas before them, who help set the revolutionary path that they now continue to build. follow me on instagram @thankschris

CHICANA FEMINISM, also referred to as Xicanism, is an ideology based on the rejection of the traditional “household” role of a Mexican-American woman. In challenges the stereotypes of women across the lines of gender, ethnicity, class, race, and sexuality. Most importantly, it serves as a middle ground between the Chicano Movement and the Women’s Liberation Movement.

Our internalized racism causes us to boast of our light coloring, if indeed we have it, or imagine it. We hope for light-skinned children and brag no end of those infants who happen to be born gueros, white looking, we are downright ecstatic if they have light-colored eyes and hair. We sometimes tragically reject those children who are dark.
—  Ana Castillo, Massacre of the Dreamers

“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”

She called herself a “daughter of the revolution”, and revolutionary she was. Happy birthday to this month’s Moxie Monthly, Frida Kahlo! An accomplished painter and outspoken activist, she fiercely defied gender roles, societal expectations, and colonialism in both her professional and private life.

Kahlo was always surrounded by sickness. After contracting polio at age six, she received a well-rounded education from her epileptic father, and the two of them bonded over living with disability. He kickstarted her interest in the arts and encouraged her to try out for sports despite her disability and cultural norms at the time. Ferociously rebellious and intelligent, she took up boxing and was one of 35 women accepted to the highly prestigious and newly co-ed National Preparatory School. Here, she began to develop her interest in social justice and the Mexican identity.

Although she had shown budding talent in the arts, she set out to be a doctor. She showed promise, getting good grades and devouring books. However, everything changed after she was impaled in a near-fatal bus accident. Bedridden, her dreams of becoming a doctor were shattered. But here, she began to paint.

Kahlo painted her truth, brazenly depicting sexuality, disability, miscarriage, abortion, and the female form. She drew inspiration heavily from Mexican folk art and was a part of the Mexicanidad movement, which celebrated Mexican identity.She began to dress in traditional Mexican clothing, favoring the style of the matriarchal indigenous society of Tehuantepec. At first, she was overshadowed by her husband Diego Rivera; publications were condescending and she was not known for much other than being his wife. However, her popularity grew. She became the first Mexican artist featured in the Louvre, she was featured in Vogue, and she inspired many artists and fashion designers. Although her health rapidly declined in her later years, she continued to paint, and even attended her last solo exhibition in her bed.

Throughout her life, Kahlo lived her truth at a time when norms were restrictive. She was openly bisexual and wore men’s suits, didn’t hide and even emphasized her mustache and unibrow. She tackled taboo subjects in her art, which was sometimes deemed too graphic for display. She was always defying colonialist ideals, dressing in traditionally Mexican clothing and celebrating the indigenous identity in her art and activism. For living so authentically and rebelliously, we salute you, Frida Kahlo! To wrap up, here are 5 fun facts about this revolutionary feminist:

  1. Everything she did, she did with style. Kahlo decorated all her medical aids, from her prosthetic leg to her supportive corsets.
  2. She loved her pets. Along with dogs, she owned a fawn, parrots, and spider monkeys, some of which were featured in her self portraits.
  3. Her art was record-setting. A painting of hers sold for 8 million dollars - the highest auction price for any Latin American artist.
  4. She took many famous female lovers. Among them, Georgia O'Keefe, Josephine Baker, actress, Dolores del Rio, and actress Paulette Goddard.
  5. She was politically active ‘til the very end. Kahlo protested American intervention in Guatemala just 11 days before her death. Dedication!

There are three iconically potent female archetypes in Hispanic culture, La Malinche, La Llorona and La Virgen de Guadalupe. Walk into any Latino household and your chances of seeing some representation (you might even find an entire shrine) of la Virgen de Guadalupe is very high. In Hispanic culture, she is the ideal; the revered Catholic icon, the purest form of woman. She is the mother of God and the saint we pray to when our loved ones are on their deathbeds, or after we have just purchased a lottery ticket. In her form we are told that this is the impossible standard to which we should aspire to, which is the most obvious form of bullshit. If I had read the last sentence I just wrote out loud to my Grandmother she would scold me for the disrespect.

 La Malinche, or Dona Marina, the slave and mistress of the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes has become the Hispanic representative of female sexuality. She is iconic in our culture for playing a role in the Spanish conquest of the Aztec empire and later, for giving birth to one of the first Mestizos (a person of European and indigenous American ancestry). The Mexican people would likely not exist without her. Malinche is known for having seduced Cortes and because of her role in the war, people believed she was treacherous and disloyal. To this day in Mexico the term malinchista refers to a disloyal person. La Malinche’s blatant example of sexuality is something that many Latinas are told from a young age to deny and/or repress, otherwise we run the risk of being called a whore, a woman asking for it. There is not one thing more disappointing than this to a Hispanic father.

La Llorona is something else entirely. First introduced to me as a child, I knew her story to be folklore, however in reading texts about the history of feminism in Mexico, I learned people believe she was a real woman who existed sometime in the 1500s. She was a woman betrayed. Known to be the most beautiful woman in Mexico, she married a man outside of her rank. Later, when he decided he was done with her, and he left to be with another woman, she drowned their two children in a nearby river out of despair and anguish. The legend is that she roams rivers and lakes in Mexico and the American southwest searching for her children, wails coming from the pit of her soul, she is doomed to live eternity in “the in-between”, not quite on Earth, not quite in the afterlife. Hispanic parents tell their children this story as a cautionary tale so they don’t wander far from home, but in my research I’ve come to believe that one of the reasons La Llorona’s story has been perpetuated and has survived as long as it has is because it reinforces a belief of the Hispanic patriarchy that women are inherently sinful and must be controlled. This belief is ancient and still prevalent.

 These three figures represent the roles available to women in Mexican heritage, la madre, la virgen, y la puta. (you are either a mother, a virgin, or a whore). Many Chicana feminists (such as Sandra Cinseros and Ana Castillo, just to name two) are invested in exposing and deconstructing the ideological structure which is severely limiting. The belief is that if we dismantle damaging ideologies which are revealed and perpetuated through stories about “Our Three Mothers”, as they are sometimes referred as, we examine the virgin/whore dichotomy and reconceive the role of women in Hispanic culture.

Feminism is an ideology I was not raised with, in fact I would bet that most of the women in my family wouldn’t even call themselves a feminist. This is not because they don’t believe in equality, but more that the ideas of feminism were just not something they’ve given second thought to. The patriarch of my family my stern, lion-like Grandfather, was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico and immigrated (illegally, at first) to the States with his parents and fifteen (yes, fifteen) siblings in the early 1950s. My Grandmother, aunts, and my mother were too busy working, raising families and throwing impromptu BBQs for no reason other than it was a nice day and they could, to consider things like reproductive rights or, even though it was something one of my aunts (and myself) have lived through, sexual violence. My Grandmother, for example, certainly did not have the luxury to sit back and think about her status in a male-dominated world and what did it all mean?, while raising six children, keeping up their modest home, dealing with racist neighbors (my family was the only non-white family in town at the time) and getting back-handed by Grandpa if she raised her voice at him at the dinner table. A thing like feminism was reserved for gringas…

For many Chicanas, our identification as women, that is, as complete women, comes from the belief that we need to be connected to a man. Ridding ourselves of this parasitic identification is not always easy, for we grow up, as my Chicana students have pointed out, defined in a male context: daddy’s girl, some guy’s girlfriend, wife, or mother. Vying for a man’s attention compromises our own personal and intellectual development. We exist in a patriarchal society that undervalues women. We are socialized to undervalue ourselves, as well as anything associated with the concept of self. Our voice is considered less significant, our needs and desires secondary.
—  Carla Trujillo
Ethnocentrism is the tyranny of Western aesthetics. An Indian mask in an American museum is transposed into an alien aesthetic system where what is missing is the presence of power invoked through performance ritual. It has become a conquered thing, a dead “thing” separated from nature and, therefore, its power. 
      Modern Western painters have “borrowed,” copied, or otherwise extrapolated the art of tribal cultures and called it cubism, surrealism, symbolism. The music, the beat of the drum, the Blacks’ jive talk. All taken over. Whites, along with a good number of our own people, have cut themselves off from their spiritual roots, and they take our spiritual art objects in an unconscious attempt to get them back. If they’re going to do it, I’d like them to be aware of what they are doing and to go about doing it the right way. Let’s all stop importing Greek myths and the Western Cartesian split point of view and root ourselves in the mythological soil and soul of this continent. White America has only attended to the body of the earth in order to exploit it, never to succor it or to be nurtured in it. Instead of surreptitiously ripping off the vital energy of people of color and putting it to commercial use, whites could allow themselves to share and exchange and learn from us in a respectful way. By taking up curanderismo, Santeria, shamanism, Taoism, Zen and otherwise delving into the spiritual life and ceremonies of multi-colored people, Anglos would perhaps lose the white sterility they have in their kitchens, bathrooms, hospitals, mortuaries and missile bases. Though in the conscious mind, black and dark may be associated with death, evil and destruction, in the subconscious mind and in our dreams, white is associated with disease, death, and hopelessness. Let us hope that the left hand, that of darkness, of femaleness, of “primitiveness,” can divert the indifferent, right-handed, “rational” suicidal drive that, unchecked, could blow us into acid rain in a fraction of a millisecond.
—  Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

TW for abortion

Raquel Reichard on Instagram:

“On the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, let’s not forget how policies like the Hyde Amendment disproportionately impact low-income women and women of color in their ability to access and pay for legal and essential healthcare - women like Rosie Jiménez. Rosie, considered the first victim of the Hyde Amendment, was a young Chicana and single mother living in Texas in the 1970s. With a scholarship and six months away from obtaining her teaching credentials, Rosie realized she was pregnant. Unable to afford a safe abortion, as the amendment barred federal funding, she later died in an illegal procedure.”

I have never met any kind of Latino who, although he may have claimed his family was very woman-dominated (“mi mamá made all the real decisions”), who did not subscribe to the basic belief that men are better. It is so ordinary a statement as to sound simplistic and I am nearly embarrassed to write it, but that’s the truth in its kernel. Ask, for example, any Chicana mother about her children and she is quick to tell you she loves them all the same, but she doesn’t. The boys are different. Sometimes I sense that she feels this way because she wants to believe that through her mothering, she can develop the kind of man she would have liked to have married, or even have been. That through her son she can get a small taste of male privilege, since without race or class privilege that is all to be had. The daughter can never offer the mother such hope, straddled by the same forces that confine the mother. As a result, the daughter must constantly earn the mother’s love, prove her fidelity to her. The son - he gets her love for free.

Cherríe Moraga

I remember the first time I read something Moraga had written and it really affected me, but this was the first time I read something so impactful, true and close to home that it made me cry.