17 Jun 2022


Voicing Chicana Feminism

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Academic level: University

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The basic definition of feminism is the advocacy of women rights by the equality of the sexes. Part of understanding the issue of equality might involve referring to the social history that is set in different communities such as the Chicana Community. It is important to realize that the past holds clear examples of how women were treated as the weaker gender but addressing a particular community brings out specific beliefs and practices that shaped the women who are fighting for equality today. Aida Hurtado is one author who captures this struggle clearly in the book ‘Voicing Chicana Feminism Young Women Speak Out on Sexuality and Identity.' This literature offers a perspective into what it was like to ‘grow up female.' In this essay, the privileges and subordination and culture of social identity are explored with the hope of understanding what Aida Hurtado highlighted as the difference of experiencing life as a female. 

Privileges of the Gender Socialization Practices 

There are rather few practices that served as a benefit to women as they were allocated their duties, learned their place in the family and transitioned from childhood to adulthood. However, it is notable that women were treasured within the community, and were treated with considerable care within the family unit. There was a significant investment in ensuring that a girl learned to take care of herself and her family. Even though this was for the wrong reasons of being married off for a price, it instilled positive attributes in girls such that they were able to express themselves, and to understand their relevance to their society. They spent plenty of time around their parent, specifically mothers, meaning they received plenty of guidance when making life choices. This interaction with their guardians allowed them to maintain values that are crucial to surviving in the society such as responsibility and self-control. 

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Subordinations of Gender Socialization Practices 

Subordinations refer to some of the negative practices that women were forced into because of the nature of their gender. For example, women were fitted into the image of laborer and wealth. Most of the tasking family responsibilities fell on them. They were supposed to clean, cook and take care of their young ones while the boys in the family were exempted from most of the work as Cleophilas recalls in Huratos book. There were to learn how to execute these duties at a young age which meant that when most of the male counterparts were playing, they were ensuring that the household was running smoothly. It was so severe that mothers treated their sons with the same subordination as their husbands. In the book Mariposa cites that, ‘my mom surrendered everything to my brother,’ who had all the exemptions that her father enjoyed. 

It was evident that girls had minimal freedom. Growing up in this community meant that a girl had no control over her life choices, and that her value was pre-determined. The other speaks of how a female’s transition out of childhood was held in high regard, whereby her father took care of her and protected her womanhood for marriage. After this, she was handed to her husband who took over this responsibility of ensuring that she stayed in her place. This was unlike the male child who was allowed to discover his personality, what career he wanted to pursue and the kind of friends or family he wanted. Ben who is one of the mentioned this character tells of how he merely announced what he wanted to do and his parents did not stop him. On the other hand, when his sister jokingly challenged their father his response was ‘Go get a job!’ 

Female sexual development was also governed by cultural norms. This is a process that is expected to take place during puberty through continued interaction of girls with the opposite sex in schools, worship places and playing. However, most of the female respondents were ‘late bloomers’ for various reasons which revolve around their cultural upbringing. First, their parents had control over who they interacted with and were very strict that interaction with boys should be kept to a minimum. Girls were urged to focus on their studies which created disinterest in boys as they aimed to please their parents by excelling academically. Therefore, they were rarely the popular children in school. Most male children rarely had a curfew. The girls had strict time limits that they obeyed without fail which had an influence on their dating lives even when they were in college and other institutions of higher learning. 

Tajfel’s (1981) Social Identity Theory 

This book has implications for Tajfel’s social identity theory. Social Identity refers to a person’s sense of who they are. According to Tajfel self-identity is based on the group they belong to. Groups may include family, ethnic community, gender or even a football team. Enhancing our identity is possible by praising the group that one is a part of or degrading the group they are opposed to. The characters in the ‘Voice of Chicana’ are evidently who they are as a result of their family setting. The female counterparts are especially fighting for equal rights because they understand the struggles of coming from a home where responsibilities and expectations are piled on them because of their gender. Even though these practices may be looked down upon, it evident that the correspondents’ parents accepted these principles because they were raised by them. 

Apfelbaum’s (1979) Concept of “regrouping.” 

Aida Hurtado also brings out aspects of the Apfelbaum’s concept of regrouping in her work, and this is defined by some characteristics. It is a process by which dominated groups attemptsto seek reconciliation with their oppressors for the purpose of freeing themselves and moving past the oppression they face. In this case, the women raised in Chicana homes tried to reconcile with their fathers, who were often emotionally distant from them, so that they could have better relationships with their male counterparts and even their spouses. However, it is noted that most of these family relationships are filled not only with tension, but also with a great sense of love and respect. On the fact of regrouping is that they re-evaluate what makes them different and accept it. The female contributors in the book are aware that their gender set them apart. They do not tell their stories with contempt; they appreciate their upbringing and credit which they are to their experiences. 

Regrouping is solely recategorizing within the group. The female gender found it redefinition through education and interaction with other communities. With the migration into America and enlightenment through education, they were able to realize that they are not weaker and they can achieve anything they set their mind to. Overall, this literature is an inspiration to young girls and women who grew up in the same conditions and under the same practices. It is a reminder that it is the world that is at fault for putting them in second place and that they should not accept the situations or think that it was their fault in any way. One is also able to understand why families would treat their children so different and how it impacts them later in life. This understanding helps individuals to be better persons and fight for the rights of others. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 16). Voicing Chicana Feminism.


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