11 Jun 2022


Feminist Ideologies in Walkout

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The American civilization has over time experienced various uprisings where certain minorities have expressed their concerns through protests and active nonviolence. These historical events play a significant role in the history of humanity and in the long run interplay with modern culture to ensure that the future generation will get to learn about the developments of their predecessors. The aim of this essay is to expound on the Chicane/o Feminist theory as illustrated in the 2004 film titled Walkout. For a deeper understanding, the article will compare similar thematic concerns if the book titled Chicane/o Identity in a Changing U.S. Society (Hurt ado and Guerin, 2004). The two works of art contain anecdotes of Chicane/o feminism, a revolt that emerged to address the issue of social identity. 

The experiences of dark-skinned Mexican immigrants in America necessitated a standoff that pressurized the authorities to recognize them as equals and shun the mistreatment they were facing in social circles. The Mexican Americans were exposed to condescending experiences that revolved around circles to do with gender, race, sexuality and class (Hurtado and Gurin, 2004). In retaliation, they united to form a movement called Chicana and founded on feminist ideals. In the film, Walkout, the protagonist is a high school student named Paula Crisosmoto is presented at the centre stage of a social conflict. The storyline follows her as she struggles with her day to day encounters. 

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The choice of a woman protagonist is an indicator that the woman character is the point of focus (Olomos, 2006). The idea that this woman does not live a life of fantasy further elevates the viewer to identify and sympathies with her. She becomes a heroine by showing resilience and surviving her trials to eventually get her voice heard; a voice that also spoke for her fellow Mexican Americans. This elevation of the female character is a confirmation that feminist theories have been embedded in the film. The challenges that she faces, then, are sexual in nature, and her repulsion characterizes her as a Chicana/o activist (Hurtado and Gurin, 2004). 

Paula and other Americans of Mexican origin are reprimanded for speaking Spanish in school. Since they are a minority group, the school community fails to acknowledge their status and expresses distaste for their vernacular (Olomos, 2006). They fail to understand that Paula and her team have been uprooted from a different culture and are struggling to come to terms with a new environment. The attacks faced by this minority group are thus racial in nature (Hurtado and Gurin, 2004). 

Because of her struggle with language, Paula is viewed as less intelligent by the rest of the school community. They are punished through being assigned demeaning roles such as cleaning and other janitorial duties. They are also prevented from using lavatories during lunch as their bathrooms remain locked at that time. She feels threatened because of her race and more so as a woman considering her gender (Hurtado and Gurin, 2004). The teachers further discourage the Americans of Mexican origin from pursuing further studies in the view that they are not worthy that route. These situations spark animosity between Mexican Americans and the Administration. 

Paula gets her strength from Sal Castro, a teacher who also happens to be a Mexican immigrant (Olomos, 2006). Sal Castro is based on a real character by the same name who experienced the issues faces by Paula and other Mexicans in the film. Sal radicalizes Paula and directs her in the path of rebellion and struggle for liberation from racial bias. Feminist ideals surface again when it emerges that Paula’s father is against her actions. When his discouragement fails to work, he throws her out of the house for what he views as an alliance with agitators. By placing her against her father, the film further indicates that Paula is threatened as a woman and her struggle is feminist founded. Although her teacher is with her in the fight, the fact that her father is in the opposite camp reveals that men are not united in Paula’s support. 

The situation gets complicated when Paula gets involved with Robert. Although Paula and her mates are minorities, every school in the East of Los Angeles has a few Mexican Americans (Olomos, 2006). Her Chicana/o group has members from each school. But Robert is working undercover, and Paula only gets to realize it after Robert arrested Sal Castro. The act, however, does not deter Paula. On the contrary, she leads protests to the jail where Sal and the arrested students were held. Eventually, her voice is heard, and the Chicana/o protesters are released. Notably, then, Paula has been left to fight alone elevating her as an archetype of feminist struggle. 

Parent repulsion, though evident in Paula’s father, was not present in every Chicana/o parent. At some point, Paula seeks the assistance of the parents in the protests (Olomos, 2006). They come forth to support the walkout and the school administration for the first time agrees to address the grievances of the Chicana/o. This indicates that discrimination was not only confined to the school circles but also spread to the larger community. In the book titled Chicana/o Identity in a Changing U.S. Society (Hurtado and Gurin, 2004), it is evident that although the parents of Chicana/o students want their children to acquire a formal education, they also agree that there is need to address the racial issues that plague the social circles. 

Towards the end, Paula’s father is presented agreeing with her point of view (Olomos, 2006). Although things have escalated after Robert leads the arrests of students and Sal, her father advises her not to give up her fight at this stage. The students are framed with conspiracy charges and would have served a long jail term were it not for her courage. She defies Robert and leads a crowd to protests outside that prison, coercing the authorities to submit to their demands. By confirming that Paula has swayed her father to agree to her cause, albeit perilous, indicated that she is a strong woman capable of influencing the larger community on top of her fellow students. The portrayal of her as strong-willed against diverse harsh forces is a further highlight of alliance with feminist ideals. 

Social identity issues varied over region and time. Paula represents the young women growing up in Los Angeles where skin color and language are the major factors that trigger discrimination. Hurtado makes the observation that dealing with racial issues in the Midwest was a serious problem as opposed to other states such as Texas where almost everybody spoke Spanish. Hurtado stresses that as a girl, she was faced with more serious problems that the boys of Mexican descent she went to school with. This indeed emphasizes that sexuality is an issue and further confirms that the use of a female protagonist is aimed at perpetuating feminist ideals. Paula’s triumph sends a voice to the girls trapped in gender and racial issues that they have an obligation, albeit tough, to demand better treatment. Time as a factor, on the other hand, reveals that over time the Chicana/o movement makes adjustments to accommodate change. In the film, Paula moves from organizing walkouts to street protests and eventually confronting the law enforcers to release the arrested members. The arrangement highlights an escalation of resistance to a level of a fearless showdown. There is an indication that Paula and her group are fed up with the ugly incidences that plague them and will stop at nothing until their issues are addressed. 

Class has also been discussed as a factor in the Chicana/o struggle. The Mexican Americans in the fight for identity are from poor backgrounds, a thing that heightens their resistance. The students are discouraged from taking their studies seriously a thing that reminds them they have been condemned to the lowest status in the society. Their parents do menial jobs such as farm work thereby confirming that the discrimination directed to them is aimed at disillusioning them. Hurtado proves that even the Chicana/o members in the teaching profession were also discriminated be coworkers. In the long run, there emerges a group which feels that it has got nothing to lose and everything to gain from their opposition. 

In conclusion, Walkout is a feminist based film that chronicles the mid-twentieth-century struggle of the Mexican Americans against the multifaceted discrimination in social circles. The film highlights the woman’s role in the society and her determination to speak her voice in a male dominated world. Since there are issues that directly affect the female gender, the role of the woman in a sole battle for her liberation is communicated in the character of Paula. A study of the related issues that affected Mexican Americans in the Midwest reveals that indeed the woman in this community was deeply affected by the underlying issues (Hurtado and Gurin, 2004). The film then can be seen as a tribute to the woman who defied odds to participate in the struggle. It also showcases the fruitful outcome that the parties against discrimination pride in, especially the feminist radicals. Lastly, the film reveals a diligent search and realization of social identity among the Mexican American minorities. 


Hurtado, A and Gurin, P. (2004). Chicana/o Identity in a Changing U.S. Society. Tucson. Arizona University Press. 

Olmos, E. J. (Dir.) (2006). Walkout. HBO 

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