Women During the Chicano Movement (by Ariadna Garcia)

The purpose of this activity is to allow student to see how women were being excluded during the Chicano Movement. They will be able to see the sexism that existed during the Chicano Movement by analyzing the language used in El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán and in other pieces of literature.

This lesson will first ask students to familiarize themselves with the Chicano Movement as a whole. They will be required to watch a 52 min video as a homework assignment the class prior to beginning the lessons. This movie will help create the basis for understanding the creation of our primary source. Then we will engage in an activity in which the class will be divided into groups, girl/boys and given certain materials to use. By splitting the class in to groups it will allow for the students to see the kind of disparities that existed with in in the groups. The boys will have access to more colored markers as opposed to the girls. They will use these markers to create drawings of women and men in which they will also write certain words or phrases that characterizes them. By doing this they will be allowed to use their drawing and the words/ phrases they came up with to compare them to the language used in El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán. By comparing and contrasting hopefully they will be able to determine that one of the flaws of the Plan was the exclusion of the integration and inclusion of women.
The second part of this lesson will consist of giving the students a poem and personal account of two different pieces of literature of Leticia Hernández, who was present during the Chicano Movement. The poem will be from a book called Chicana Feminist Thought. The excerpt of a Chicana’s experience during the Chicano Movement from a book called ¡Chicana Power! They will then be required to write a short paragraph stating what they thought the excerpts were about, in other words what the purpose of the excerpts. Next, they would be separated into groups and discuss with their peers what they wrote as being the message behind the excerpts. After that they will come back as a whole class and discuss. Hopefully this adds on to the idea that women were being excluded by men during the Chicano Movement and were that these women were using such things as the ones presented to them as forms of responding to the oppression and calling other women to open their eyes and fight to deteriorate the oppression.

Essential Understanding:
Through examining the language used in El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán what are some of the flaws that can be concluded, specifically what does it have to say in regards to gender?

Essential Questions:
1) What role did nationalism play in the Chicano Movement?
2) What role did women play in the Chicano Movement?
3) Who held leadership roles in the Chicano Movement?
4) What strategies were used by those in the Chicano Movement to help meet their goals?
5) How did males feel about women speaking up against any issues within the Chicano Movement?
6) How can the language used in certain documents alter the actual meaning?

Nationalism, sexism, patriarchal ideology, gender roles.

The history of the Chicano can be traced as far back as 1848 when the war between the United States and Mexico ended. This war displaced many of the land that was once considered theirs. This was only one of the many problems along with racism that gave rise to the Chicano Movement. The Chicano Movement who made itself visible in the 1960s was a result of not only the connection with farm workers that at this time, with the help of Cesar Chavez, were urging for better wages but also a quest to find their identity as Chicanos. This identity was to be centered on the idea of cultural nationalism. This identity was to be build off of having something, such as land, that they could call their own. This identity was centered on being able to trace their cultural roots and be proud rather than ashamed.
In comparison to other movements that were also taking place at this time, the Chicano Movement was different because it held a political stance to it. While the civil rights movement fought for slow and peaceful changes, “the Chicanos, largely a contingent of educated students, in a revolution sparked by rising expectations, demanded equality with white America; demanded an end to racism, and asserted their right to cultural autonomy and national self-determination”.1 The Chicano Movement was used to place an emphasis on the necessity of having full political rights. Simultaneously, the Chicano movement emphasized on the importance of being able to have the same social and economic opportunities as the white.

While the Chicano Movement was centered on the idea of unity and building a community it failed to make Chicana women feel included. The movement was centered on this idea of cultural nationalism. Those who were Chicano nationalists followed the traditional perceptions of gender roles. In this traditional perception women were to be submissive while the idea of machismo prevailed, as it had been found in patriarchal systems. Many Chicanas felt that having the movement being centered on cultural survival failed to acknowledge the inequalities that existed between male-female relationships. Within the Chicano movement women were for the most part denied any access to leadership positions. Instead their role within the movement was to perform more cultural traditional tasks such as cleaning, making coffee and serving the needs of the men who gave them orders.

To add on to the sexism that took place within the movement women such as, Anna NietoGomez were present in conferences. NietoGomez was present in both the Santa Barbara and Denver conferences that were held by the movement. While in the Denver conference, where El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán was written, she gave her input on how the plan should be written. She spoke on behalf of all the other women who felt the need to be integrated into the movement but her ideas were dismissed by the men in the movement.

After having been active participants of the movement and continually being ignored, the women decided to put a halt to it which cause the Chicana feminist movement to begin. This movement had emerged predominantly from the women’s personal experiences with the sexism within the movement. These women were opposed to the cultural portion of the movement rather they were opposed to the idea of nationalism as it created barriers between the men and women of the movement. These women felt that men needed to be educated in the existence of this issue in order for the movement to be stronger.

Many of these men referred to those women who were affiliated with the Chicana feminist movement to be traitors of their own people. They called them names such as: malinches, traitors and white washed. The men of the movement believed that rather than creating more problems and breaking up “La Raza”, they should just follow their men and support their people. In response to this treatment these women created safe spaces in which they could speak up on the issue. They created things such as the newspaper “Las Hijas De Cuauhtémoc”, wrote narratives in a journal called “El Grito” and created women caucuses in conferences such as NACCS (National Association of Chicano Chicana Studies). NACCS still exists today and still includes women caucuses as part of the conference.

Quest for Homeland:
Quest for Homeland
Primary source: El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán
El Plan de Aztlán
Post-It Easel Paper
Poem: Mujer (1971) and Excerpt from ¡Chicana Power!
Poem: Mujer (1971) and Excerpt from ¡Chicana Power!

Movie: YouTube (52 min)
Quest for Homeland
The students will be required as a homework assignment not only to what this movie but also write up a one paragraph summary of the main points of the video.

Day 1:
We will come to class and the first thing that we will do is split the class in to groups of 4 people. In small groups they will share what they wrote as being the main points in regards to the pre-activity video. After sharing what each one of them wrote, they will chose three of them as the three main important ones/ After working collectively to choose their top three choices we will come back and present them to the class as a whole. By presenting to the class as a whole it will allow for others to engage in discussing whether they agree or disagree with some of the statements made by others and why they think that way. After hearing the themes that each of these groups will present on we will move on to a different activity.

The activity’s goal is to make visible the existing terminology used to describe both men and women, which will the help in analyzing the primary source. The students will be separated first by whether they are boys or girls. Then those groups will be broken down further, each group should only have three members in it. After having separated into different groups each group will be given a piece of Post-it easel paper and an envelope with markers. To prove the idea that just like in the Chicano Movement, men have more accessibility to certain things in comparison to women; the girls will only be given envelopes that contain two markers while the boys will be given markers that represent all colors of the rainbow. Each group will separated and work in different parts of the classroom. Then the students will be asked to draw out the outline of the body. The body outline will be similar to this:


After having drawn the outline they will be required to come up with terms and/ or phrases that represent the men for the boys and the women for the girls. They are to put these terms inside of the body. Some of the terms they may be familiar in describing a woman could be terms such as; women, girl, flowers, pink, etc. In regards to the boys, some of the terms they maybe are familiar with could be; man, boy, cars, blue, etc. They will also have the freedom to be creative and transform the body into actually looking either like a man or a woman depending on the group that they are assigned to define. Then each group will have a chance to present their drawings. They will explain why they chose to draw their figure the way they did and also pick five terms to present on and also explain why they chose to use those terms. After all the students have presented they will asked if they notice any difference between the drawings that the boys made from the ones the girls made. It is here where I hope that they can point out that the drawings that the men mad contain more color as oppose to the girls. I will then conclude by making reference to the Chicano Movement and how women were excluded from having accessibility to many of the things that men had access to. One of those being the fact that men would have women do their school work and women wouldn’t have any one do theirs nor will they question the men for making them do theirs. The lesson for this day will end with this and we will hang up the drawing on the classroom walls as they will serve as reference for the following lesson.

Day 2:
Day 2 lesson will begin by giving them the primary source. They will be asked to read the primary source while paying close attention to the kind of language used in the primary source. We will then discuss as a class what they think the primary source is saying. In other words what was the purpose of the creation of this primary source and what were the authors trying to achieve? I will also have them make connections between the movie they were required to watch and the primary source. The movie should serve as a basis to help determine the essential purpose for the creation of this primary source. They will then read it again and this time circle those words that they feel speak to a specific sex; women/men. We will then share these as a class and using the terms that they came up with in their drawing we will see if we can compare and contrast. In other words we will be examining if any of the words they retrieved from the primary source appear in any of their drawing. By determining that the terminology that appears in our primary source is only related to the terms used in the drawings of the boys we will be able to make a conclusion. The students will be able to make the connection and conclude that the primary source despite its idea of unity still failed to use terminology that made women inclusive. We will then move on to small excerpts of two different books to add on to how these women felt during the Chicano Movement.

Some of the questions that will be asked to begin the discussion:
What was the central theme of the primary source?
What specific group and sex was it created to include?
Why did only include those individuals?
Who were made as the heroes and who were left in the shadows?

Personal accounts:
First we will look at a small excerpt that illuminates the sexual politics that occurred during the Chicano Movement written by Leticia Hernández, one of the many women who were active participants during the Chicano Movement. The students will first be require to read it to themselves and jot down words that they feel are important in representing the central theme of the excerpt. We will then discuss the excerpt as a class and try to answer the following questions. Why did Leticia write this? From this excerpt what can be concluded about the way in which women were being treated in the movement? Can this excerpt be used to represent what is going on today? Through this excerpt what position did women hold during the movement?

Day 3:
To end the lessons on the Chicano Movement we will take a look at a poem written by Leticia Hernandez called “Mujer”. The class will be broken down into groups of four. This time they will be mixed groups of both boys and girls. Each group will be given a piece of Post-it easel paper in which they will be ask to create an image that represents what the poem is trying to say. With the aid of this poem students will be able to analyze and conclude that women during the Chicano Movement were aware of the disparities that existed. Not only were they conscious but they were willing to reach out to other women and make them conscious as well. They were willing to point out things that were oppressing these women and call for change to take place. After drawing something the represents what each group thought of the poem they will have an opportunity to present it to the class and together explain why they chose the image that they did. Each group will also answer the following question; do you think it is important to learn about topics such as women during the Chicano Movement? Why or why not?

Additional Sources:
1) Ramón A. Gutiérrez, “Community, Patriarchy and Individualism: The Politics of Chicano History and the Dream of Equality” (pp.44-72). The Johns Hopkins University Press, (Mar., 1993).
2) Roberta Fernández, “Abriendo caminos in the Brotherland: Chicana Writers Respond to the Ideology of Literary Nationalism” (pp.23-50). University of Nebraska Press, (1994).
3) Alma M. Garcia, “The Development of Chicana Feminist Discourse, 1970-1980” (pp.217-238). Sage Publications, Inc., (1989).

• Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
• Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how men in the Chicano Movement define women).
• Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
• Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
• Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.
• Students identify bias and prejudice in historical interpretations.
• Analyze the women’s rights movement from the era of Elizabeth Stanton and Susan Anthony and the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the movement launched in the 1960s, including differing perspectives on the roles of women.

1Ramón A. Gutiérrez, “Community, Patriarchy and Individualism: The Politics of Chicano History and the Dream of Equality” (pp.44-72). The Johns Hopkins University Press, (Mar., 1993).

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