mujerista

What is "Mujerista," and what is "Mujerista Theology?"

(So, we’ve gotten a few requests on a brief history and outline of the term Mujerista, so I’ve compiled this together. If anyone has anything to add, please do! And mind, this is in no way a complete description, but something that can get your gears turning. - Jennifer)

The term Mujerista was first coined by Ada Maria Isasi-Díaz. Isasi-Díaz was born and raised to a Catholic family in Havana, Cuba, and went to the United States as a political refugee in 1960. Once there, she became a nun, and did missionary work in Lima, Peru. It was there that Isasi-Díaz first began to think about the sexism, racism, and patronization of the Catholic Church in Latin@ communities (particularly, in poor Latin@ communities). Although many (not all!) Latin@s are Catholic, there is a complicated relationship there because of its history as a colonizing force. The Church has continued this legacy and ignores the “religion of the people,” by use of androcentric Eurocentrism, but that’s a whole other paper. Anyway. Isasi-Díaz gave up being a nun and came back to the United States, where she got her masters and PhD in Divinity. It is around these times that she began to create the concept of Mujerista, and more specifically, Mujerista Theology. She explains that this was vital because of the racism she faced within the feminist movements, and the sexism within Liberation Theology. She would have definitely been influences by early Womanist scholars, Black feminists, and by Chicana feminists. Although Mujerism is focused in Latin@ communities in the United States, it also applies to anywhere that Latin@s are!

So while the term Mujerista began within a theological (Roman Catholic) context, it is not only a religious identity, (much like Womanism). The key aspect of Mujerista Theology is that we, as Latinas, needed to have a theology and feminist movement where we are at the center, and not the Other. As a part of Liberation Theology, Mujerista Theology (and Mujerism in general) has a Liberative Praxis, wherein justice and liberation is the most important move for all marginalized groups. Although this Liberative Praxis is centered in the Latin@ community, it is important that no liberation can be attained if it isn’t intersectional. This means that we have to stand in solidarity with all marginalized identities, and make a new society wherein no one is subjugated to oppression. We, as Latin@s (and other marginalized communities) need to recognize the oppressive structures in our lives, and we need to work to change these systems and learn about how we’ve internalized our own oppression. We must work towards a proyecto histórico in which we are free of these oppressive structures but still have a strong sense of history.

So how can this be achieved? Isasi-Díaz really focuses on the fact that we have to work within the subjective frameworks of all Latinas, which is a huge project because each Latina individual and community works within their own narrative. So this means we have to work to affirm the everyday life of Latinas. Even though struggle is key to our communities, it shouldn’t be exalted. When we say, la vida es lucha, it’s something that we need to recognize as we try to overcome it. Isasi-Díaz really focuses on three characteristics of Latinidad that will help us achieve liberation: comunidad, lo cotidiano, and justicia.

Comunidad is the idea that there can be no change without the support of our communities. Liberation is not individual, even though it is subjective. Isasi-Díaz speaks about how we need to embrace diversity within our communities, and reject racism and ethnic prejudice. This is especially important because Latinidad is not homogenous. Although the focus is on racial identity (we have Afro-Latinas, white Latinas, Indigenous Latinas, mestizaje Latinas, mulatez Latinas, all the Latinas!) this is also important in terms of sexuality, gender identity, ability, class, and other intersectional identities. We have to actively work in solidarity with one another and know that we don’t all face the same oppressions. But we need to support one another and talk about the problems within our community. Liberation has to be for us all.

Isasi-Díaz roughly translates lo cotidiano into “the stuff of our reality,” basically saying that our stories, narratives, histories, and lives as Latinas are the frameworks through which we live our lives. There is an emphasis on all the values, ideals, and dreams that help us in our struggles and in our everyday lives. So this includes all of the actions, discourses, and norms that are established within our communities and within ourselves. This is key because liberation can’t come out of the academy. If your liberative praxis is something that your mother, your grandmother, your aunts, cannot understand because it’s full of technical jargon, then it is bullshit. Being a Mujerista is about our lived lives and practices. If you’re not centering your work in your community, then why are you doing it? 

Finally, justicia has to be vital and an active aspect of our lives. Since the ultimate goal of Mujerism is liberation, we have to work and participate in making our world a place where we are not marginalized. Isasi-Díaz names five main forms of injustice that Latin@s face, and that we need to work to overcome. These are exploitation (of our work and our bodies), marginalization (the way we are forced to be the Other within society and our own lives), powerlessness (the lack of authority that we have, and the amount of authority that is pushed onto us by dominant narratives), cultural imperialism (the rejection of our own cultural values, traditions, etc. which leads to internalized racism), and systematic violence (within our communities and against our communities). Again, we also have to work to make sure these injustices are no longer activated against any marginalized community, and we need to be mindful of intersections. This is why Mujeristas want liberation, and not equality; we do not squash our brothers and sisters in struggles in order to be made “equal” with dominant groups.

But why does Isasi-Díaz coin Mujerista over “Latina Feminist”? In short, it is because there is power in naming. To call oneself a “Latina Feminist” shows that we are still the Other, still not the center of our praxis. Some Latina Feminists argue that this is erasing the history of feminism in Latin American countries, and that the term Mujerista really has not political or historical backing, which is equally valid. But many WoC, including myself, have never felt comfortable with the term “feminist” because feminism has never been for us. So I like Mujerista because it is a name that I have chosen, that has been made by a Latina like me, and that gives me comfort. And it makes me feel like I have a space for me, where I’m not, in the words of Isasi-Díaz, “an unimportant adjective.” This is not to say it’s perfect - a lot of work needs to be done and continue to be done for it to be more intersectional and to make sure we aren’t squashing people within our communities and other marginalized groups. But I have hopes for it. High, high, hopes.

And in case this was all too long, and you didn’t read:

A Mujerista is someone who makes a preferential option for Latina women, for their struggle for liberation. 

Some introductory texts to check out for further information on Mujerism/Mujerista Theologyand critiques of it:

  • “My Name is Mujerista,” Ada Maria Isasi-Díaz
  • Mujerista Theology: A Theology for the 21st Century, Ada Maria Isasi-Díaz (Orbis Books, 1996)
  • En la Lucha/In the Struggle: Elaborating a Mujerista Theology, Ada Maria Isasi-Díaz (Fortress Press, 2003)

  • A Reader in Latina Feminist Theology, eds. María Pilar Aquino, Daisy Machado, and Jeanette Rodríguez (University of Texas Press, 2002)
  • “Rethinking Latina Feminist Theologian,” Michelle A. González, in Rethinking Latino(a) Religion and Identity (The Pilgrim Press, 2006)

Ganas Machete
30x44 Mixed Media on Canvas
Artist: Ernesto Yerena

This piece honors strong womyn of color who are willing to
fight for their beliefs and know that the warrior way of life is
not exclusive for men. VIVA LA MUXER. The machete is a
weapon of resistance used by revolutionaries in the southern
region of Mexico and throughout Central and South America
but it is first used as a tool to cultivate crops. The setting in
this image is the Southwest which has been the forefront of
the battle against SB1070

i saw this in a disturbing dream i had a couple years ago. it was very metaphorical. about self-harm and how it is often a reproduction of the harm we incur from the world. and how beyond physically harming ourselves, as neocolonial black girls who live the aftermath of slavery, we are still asked to self-mutilate by extracting pieces of ourselves for others comfort. until there’s only an empty shell left.

you can help keep me creating at patreon.com/bad_dominicana

-zk

latina.com
10 Things You Shouldn't Say to a Latina Feminist
Not everyone is as acquainted with our Latina feminism, and oftentimes those who aren’t spew some messed-up, inaccurate or just annoying ishh.

“From The Bad Dominicana sparking critical conversations on race, gender and class on Twitter and Latina Rebels making us snap and double tap to their chonga feminism on Instagram to conferences like the Roundtable of Latina Feminism and our very own Woman Crush(ing the Patriarchy) Wednesday, it’s clear that the mujerista movement is alive and well.

But not everyone is as acquainted with our Latina feminism, and oftentimes those who aren’t spew some messed-up, inaccurate or just annoying ishh.

Ahead, some remarks many of us Latina feministas have heard too many times and would like to never come across again.”

1. “I get so happy when I see Latinas embracing feminism.” “Embracing?” While the term “feminism” was first used in Europe, the practice and ideas tied to the word had long existed among the tribes of our Indigenous and African foremothers. And, contrary to what films like “Iron Jawed Angels” depict, U.S. Latinas have long been a part of the feminist movement here, too. I’m not “embracing” feminism; I am a part of feminism.

See the full list here

March 8th is International Women’s Day and this is Women’s History Month. La Respuesta magazine proudly celebrates and honors the immense contributions of Boricua women in Puerto Rico and the Diaspora. 

*The poster features a painting by Rafael Tufiño of his mother, called “La Goyita.” The quote and background text is from “A Julia de Burgos” by nuestra poeta nacional Julia de Burgos.

Luisa Capetillo was a labor organizer, essayist, and radical feminist born in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. She was a leader in the American Federation of Labor, organized tobacco workers and women for universal suffrage and helped pass the island’s minimum wage laws. She is also credited with being the first woman in Puerto Rico to wear pants in public, for which she was arrested. Learn more about exemplary #BoricuaWomen at larespuestamedia.com #boricuadiaspora #independentista #anarchist #feminism #feminist #puertorico #larespuesta #diaspora #diasporaboricua #boricua #puertorican #larespuestamedia #womenshistorymonth #womanism #mujerista

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My name is Selena Sandoval and I’m a Xicana from the Pilsen community in Chicago. I recently read my poem, “Las Mujeres Que Me Enseñan Cada Día”, at this event called Noche De Poetas which is held at my school, UIC. It’s about the struggles that the Latinx community faces in our society but also learning how to grow out of the labels which have been branded on us. These are my own experiences I’ve had growing up and I hope someone else can identify with them and it makes you feel a little less alone in your endeavors. ✊🏽✨💖

A Reflection on Queer

-After reading Patrick Cheng’s Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology-

Queer means

  1. Umbrella term for the LGBT community
  2. Verb that denotes the subversion of existing hierarchical and binary structures
  3. The challenging of normative boundaries.

Queer can be thought of as a process, namely queering some social institution or cultural category. In this sense, he talks about the term queer functioning as a self-conscious transgressive action. Since queering something means that it subverts normative boundaries, essentialist and deterministic categories are often in the ‘gaze’ of queer theory. As it challenges these essentialist and deterministic categories, of which certain voices dominate the discourse, other voices which have been subjugated now have the chance to be unearthed.

More than unearthing subjugated voices, queer theology challenges our dichotomous conceptions of boundaries, such as life/death, divine/human, sacred/profane, and divine/human. In this sense, queer theology not only challenges binaries that have to do with sexuality or gender, but it also challenges our western categorizing of reality in dichotomous terms. This opens up theology to those voices that aren’t western in nature; namely, eastern and native voices. Where queerness and Christianity meet, queer theology, is that they both challenge these types of boundaries. So if queering something is to subvert these boundaries, then Christianity is fundamentally queer.

Calling all Xican@s/Latin@s

I am still in need of two more interviews and ten to fifteen folks to do a survey for my Queer Chican@s research project!

Also, short notice. I would want all the interviews/surveys to be sent back to me by May 9th 5pm pacific time.

This is being done by email.

Please message me if you are wanting to participate at

fgmedina11@yahoo.com

Thank you <3

My Thoughts on Mujerista Theology

http://political-linguaphile.tumblr.com/post/66742096777/what-is-mujerista-and-what-is-mujerista-theology

Not being familiar to Mujerista Theology, I decided to read an incredible post by tumblr user soychorizo on the core components. This name itself reminded me of the importance of how one identifies and how intersectionality helps us further understand how this affects our lives. Based on revolutionary feminism, intersectionality, needs to be incorporated so those silenced voices can take action in feminist analysis. Introduced through scholars like Bell Hooks in Coming Closer to Feminism, intersectionality there are variables that form an  identity which includes race, gender,religion, economic, or social status.

Mujerista Theology is key that if you identify as a Latina, is the need to have a theology and feminist movement where we are at the center in the struggle for liberation.  Personally I didn’t think I could identify as a feminist although I understood the context of the term , yet internally  I did not fully or emotionally feel a connection. What caught my eye was this idea of the cotidiano, that there should be importance of the daily aspects of Latinas and not just solely focus on discourse from academic institutions. Since this is a collective movement, those who do not have the privilege of attending an academic institution should be able to grasp concepts and not be restricted to only some Latinas. It is important to discuss our individual stories/struggles instead of silencing, making a liberation effort difficult to attain. The other point in Mujerista Theology is that liberation is not an equality effort, because that struggle for equality would lead to the oppression and domination of other marginalized groups. Kimberle Crenshaw’s “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics”, explains through the basement analogy that acting through a narrow sense without letting intersectionality partake, will lead to no direct benefits for those who are furtherly  marginalized.


I really appreciate the need of not being titled a Latina feminist because we would be pushed into the Other category in feminism which makes our struggle less important for the collective effort. It would also assume a certain bond or mutual struggle with mainstream feminists which rarely happens which was seen in the split from reformist feminism to revolutionary feminism. Mujerista to me seems like a term I can connect to since it removes itself from being grouped into white woman feminism and makes a space for the sole improvement of Latinas. I am still learning about Mujerista Theology but I am happy to have found a space where Latina women are put at the front since I can not find any other group where we could be.

Gloria Steinem: “If I had to pick a couple of myths about the women’s movement that are most wrong, I think two might be tied for worst place. One is that this movement—also known as women’s liberation, feminism, womanism, mujerista!, grrrls and more—is only for white middle-class women.

The second myth is that women of the ’70s did all that could or should be done, and young women can now relax; feminism was their mothers’ movement.”

- Gloria Steinem

Read the full piece here: Gloria Steinem: Why Our Revolution Has Just Begun | Photo source