What is the Chicana Movement?

The Birth of Chicana Feminist Thought

Chicana Ideologies and Issues

Chicana Expressions

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Chicana Ideologies and Issues

The Seeds of Progress

From the mid-twentieth century onward, Chicanas have slowly evolved with the rest of American society in terms of cultural norms and values. They have faced however, specific cultural barriers that have prevented them from benefiting from all of the gains made by social movements, such as the feminist movements. What they have accomplished is a greater autonomy in their marriages due to their participation in the workforce and their salaries. They still face still opposition from Chicano movement ideology, which accuses them of selling-out by breaking tradition Mexicana roles.

Cultural-nationalist resistance

One problem faced by Chicanas as they attempt to expand their gender roles is resistance within their cultural nationalist movement itself, the Chicano movement. The feminist notions of equality and egalitarianism that many Chicanas want to embrace are being crushed by the Chicano movement itself, which sees it as a threat to their core ideas. Chicanas are desperate to have their progressive ideas recognized within the movement, going as far as to argue that feminist ideas have been “an integral part of their Mexican and Chicano heritage”6. This demonstrates that the Chicanas in the Chicano movement are trying their best to border the two worlds they wish to be a part of: the progressive American community and the traditional and cultural Mexican community.

Anderson continues, “When Chicanas become active as feminists, Chicano resistance to their political stance becomes even more pronounced. […] Indeed, Chicanas who advocate greater autonomy and expanded roles from women have been accused of betraying their people and traditions for a dangerous egoism.” These Chicano men still want the women’s role to revolve around the family and the house, even when they happily accept the money brought in by “liberated” women from their factory jobs.

Being too Anglo       

This idea of being “too Anglo” is an impediment to the Chicana progress. In the mind of the Chicano movement, a Latina woman is Chicana first and American second. Therefore, the values that most Americans wish to uphold for women, such as freedom from gender stereotypes, are not “Chicano.” One epithet mentioned by Anderson is that Chicanas are labeled as, “‘vendidas,’ or sell-outs, who have sacrificed their people to selfish goals unwisely adopted form Anglo models”8.

Social freedom through economic freedom

What Chicana women have accomplished is terrific success as members of the workforce. Though some would argue that their jobs in maquiladoras, food processing plants, and other factories are abusive and not ideal, for a poor uneducated women these jobs provide necessary additional income that is needed. With this money, Chicanas have greater autonomy, whose influence has spilled over into their marriages and gender roles. Anderson explains, “Women’s willingness to work outside the home despite conflict with their husbands bespeaks the material and other benefits that employment secured for them. The increasing significance of those benefits to Chicanas and the erosion of opposition to their working was reflected in the large numbers of Chicanas who entered the labor force after 1960.”9