What is the Chicana Movement?

The Birth of Chicana Feminist Thought

Chicana Ideologies and Issues

Chicana Expressions

Image Gallery



Credits Page

AC213 Homepage



















































Chicana Expressions

While it is important is understand the historical framework of the Chicana movement to gain a concrete viewpoint, examining what these women created, enriches and supplements one’s awareness of the movement.

Chicana Poetry and Analysis:

While political discourse and feminist literature played considerable roles in the Chicana Feminist movement, Chicana also expressed their ideals through poetry. While it takes more abstract route, poetry provides readers with an emotional connection with the writer, and inevitably, the movement itself. The poetry of Chicanas fosters a sense of identity and solidarity with its readers, and provides the author with a creative outlet. Distinguished writers such as Ana Castillo have used poetry to supplement their cause and present a personal insight.

La Nueva Chicana

The old women going to pray
does her part,
The young mother hers,
The old man sitting on the porch,
The young husband going to work,
But let’s not forget the young,
Bareheaded girl fighting for equality,
Unshawled girl living for a better world,
Let’s not forget her,
Wherever you turn,
Wherever you look
You’ll see her,
She’s still the soft brown-eyed
Beauty you knew,
There’s just one difference,
A big difference,
She’s on the go spreading the word.
Is her main goal too,
She is no longer the silent one,
Because she has cast off the
Shawl of the past to show her face,

by Ana Montes 12

This poem, written by accomplished poet Ana Montes, poignantly illustrates the beliefs of a true Chicana Feminist. Montes begins the poems by exploring the stereotypical roles of Latinos, depicting the older woman as focused on prayer, and the husband acting as the provider. Montes juxtaposes these conservative characters when she introduces the Chicana. She describes this woman as a fighter for equality with the goal of changing and bettering the world. She employs the metaphor of a shawl to represent the bonds of oppression that Chicana women had to break in order to gain civil rights. The Chicana in the poem is bareheaded and in the end, Montes writes “ She is no longer the silent one, because she has cast off the shawl of the past to show her face”.13 This woman Montes is describing is not intended to be interpreted as an individual, but functions as a portrait of Chicanas as a whole. Montes also carefully points out that this woman is still beautiful and feminine, but she goes much deeper than physical beauty. This was potentially written as a critique of Chicano men asserting that feminism somehow violated the traditional role of a Chicana woman. This poem is unquestionably eloquent and powerful at the same time.

Other noted Chicana feminists include Lorna Dee Cervantes, Gloria Anzaldua, and Sandra Cisneros

Chicana Artwork

While Chicanas often focus on literature as means of expression, they also foster a sense of identity through the production of images. This medium provides Chicanas with a powerful, physical workspace to express themselves. Well-known Chicana artists include Esperanza Gama, Micaela Amato, and Ester Hernadez.

Painting by Ester Hernandez


This painting was done by Ester Hernandez, a famed artist, Chicana, and California native. This picture portrays a modern Mexican woman with an elaborate tattoo of the Virgin of Guadelupe. Hernandez is know for incorporating social and political themes in her artwork, and this piece clearly reflects that sentiment. By combining the traditional symbol of the Virgin, with a radical-looking woman, Hernandez creates a moving image of a Chicana.


Chicana’s Today: The Evolution of Social Change

While rooted in time of revolutionary change, Chicana Feminists continues to be an active and influential group. The basic ideals of equality have remained intact, but the way Chicanas choose to raise awareness of their plight has evolved with the times. Chicanas have entered the global stage through the use of web pages, published interviews, and film that help to further their cause. A resource guide of contemporary Chicana works can be found below.

Chicanas on The Web: Chicanas have established websties such as www.chicanas.com, which looks at both the history and growth of the Chicana movement, and gives Chicanas all over the United States a place to connect and discuss current issues.
Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jl795NtMnCk
Blog: http://xicanista.blogspot.com/
Forum: http://latino.sscnet.ucla.edu/women/mujer-l.html


Chicanas in Literature: Chicanas have used literature as a means of activism and expression. In her book Home Girls, Alvina E. Quintana states that “Chicana literature crosses disciplinary boundaries because it unifies the cultural, historical, and literary in a way that forces scholars to confront the limitations of artificial barriers”. With this, Quintana is asserting that literary works give a more cohesive perspective on the issues and theories of Chicanas. Ana Castillo is a well-known author in both the Chicana community and abroad. As one of the most renowned Chicana writers, Castillo has penned prolific poetry, novels, and short stories regarding the Chicana experience. Other contemporary Chicana writers include Sandra Cisneros, Helena Maria Viramontes, and Michelle Serros. To learn more about these writers, and gain access to their works, please visit http://www.chicanas.com/chicfiction.html 

Chicanas in Film: A film by Linda Garcia Merchant, a Chicana activist, is currently in production. Titled Las Mujeres de la Caucus Chicana, this documentary looks at six women who were significant to the Chicana Feminist movement. This includes Martha Cotera, a notable activist and writer who was central to the progression of the movement.

Clip (Cotera speaking on Feminism):

Las Mujeres: Martha Cotera

(Embedded is sometimes spotty)


Las Mujeres: Martha Cotera