The Extended Movimiento de las Hijas de Cuauhtémoc: Chicana Feminists’ Struggle to be Heard (by Jacqueline Fernandez)

Standards

Intended Grade Level: 9th Grade

  1. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
  1. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
  1. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

 

Overview

Students will analyze the growth of the Chicana feminist identity, Chicanas’ experiences in the broad Chicana/o movement as women, and the importance of Chicana feminism in the 1960s and the 1970s by reading Chicana feminists’ works, such as Anna Nieto-Gomez.  Students will gain a greater awareness of Chicanas’ involvement and experiences as minority women in the race and feminist movements.

 

 Framework

Students will be asked to analyze three primary sources: a poem called “The Brown Women,” a short essay by Anna Nieto-Gomez, and a short account of a Chicana regional conference. Students will listen to a short lecture on the Chicano movements and how the Chicana Feminist movement arose. Students will then look at the poem and be asked to search for key terms referring to Chicanas. After being introduced to Chicana’s characteristics and issues through the poem, students will discuss their findings with their neighbor and then with the class. Students will then read Anna Nieto-Gomez’s piece and the piece on the regional conference. They will be asked to relate both pieces to the poem and draw connections to the Chicana movement, who it is for, and what Chicanas aspire to. They will then be assigned a short paper analyzing the poem and using the other two accounts as supporting evidence to answer the essential questions. The paper will be due two weeks after this exercise. Through these primary sources, students will learn more about the concept of intersectionality and the intersectionalities of race, gender, and class that the Chicana Feminist movement brought forth.

 

Essential Understanding

The Chicana Feminist movement significantly addressed women’s issues within the Chicano movement and to the rising women of color movements by focusing on the intersectionalities of race, gender, and class that affected Chicanas’ position in both liberation movements.

 

Essential Questions

  1. How do some Chicana feminists define Chicana Feminism?
  2. How did the Chicana feminist identity arise and how did they view their experiences in the race and gender movements?
  3. What are some characteristics of Chicana Feminists?
  4. How did Chicana feminists perceive their role within the Chicana/o movements?
  5. How did Chicana feminists contribute to the race and the feminist movements?
  6. How did Chicana Feminists define their movement?

 

Glossary

Anna Nieto-Gomez: an early Chicana feminist that was a central part of the early Chicana movement and founded feminist journal, Encuentro Femenil. She and other Chicana writers addressed issues affecting the Latina community, such as childcare, reproductive rights, and the feminization of poverty.

Chicana Feminism: an ideology based on the rejection of the traditional “household” role of a Mexican-American woman. In challenges the stereotypes of women across the lines of gender, ethnicity, class, race, and sexuality.

Chicano Movement: The Chicano Movement of the 1960s, also called the Chicano Civil Rights Movement, also known as El Movimiento, is an extension of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement which began in the 1940s with the stated goal of achieving Mexican American empowerment.

Discrimination: the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

Feminism: the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

Intersectionality: the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

Oppression: the state of being subject to unjust treatment or control.

Socioeconomic Status: an economic and sociological combined total measure of a person’s work experience and of an individual’s or family’s economic and social position in relation to others, based on income, education, and occupation.

Women’s Liberation: the advocacy of the liberation of women from inequalities and subservient status in relation to men, and from attitudes causing these (now generally replaced by the term feminism).

 

Introduction

The Chicana Feminist movement arose during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was brought forth by female Chicana activists who significantly contributed to the Chicana/o movement and other feminists of color movements, such as the Black feminist movement. Chicana Feminism is attributed to having developed when Chicanas identified a gap between the Chicano movement’s discussion on equal rights and the ways that they treated women. Women in the movement were generally seen as secretaries and cooks instead of equal social and political actors. These gendered notions of women’s positions in the movement exposed the oppression that women’s gender role faced when Chicanas were not seen as intelligent to take on official leadership roles within the movement.

 

Anna Nieto-Gomez and other Chicana feminists were involved in the first mobilization of Chicanas in response to their experiences as women in relation to their race and socioeconomic status.  Nieto-Gomez was a pioneering Chicana activist that worked with the members of the Hijas de Cuauhtémoc (a Chicana feminist organization) to address these discriminatory organizational practices based on gender. One example of discrimination against women based on gender was during Nieto-Gomez’s launch into addressing colored women’s rights in the movement. It could be said to have officially begun when she was nominated to be president of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) at the California State University, Long Beach in the late 1960s. Although Nieto-Gomez was democratically elected to be president, a few male leaders undermined her leadership and openly admitted to refusing being represented by a woman. Thus, this event led to the growth of an autonomous women’s organization within MEChA that eventually became its own separate entity.

 

Chicana Feminism worked to address the barriers that women of color faced, such as issues of welfare rights, race, child care, and employment. Nieto-Gomez and Chicanas focused on these issues because they pertained to women in ways that did not to Chicano men. Moreover, the Chicana Feminist movement worked to differ itself from the dominant feminist movement led by Caucasian women because Chicanas addressed issues pertaining to the intersectionality of gender with racism and class, whereas Anglo feminism did not necessarily do. It is important to make this distinction because Chicana Feminism addressed multiple oppressions that any woman of color faced. Chicana Feminism served as a tool for Chicanas to empower themselves because it addressed their gender, race, and class. It worked to empower Chicanas and other minority women in the U.S. by providing a space and venue for their voices to be heard.

 

Materials

Duarte, Anita Sarah, “The Brown Women (1975),” trans. Alma M. Garcia (London: Routledge, 1997), 194-196.

http://pages.pomona.edu/~tfs04747/Materials25CH/TheBrownWomen.pdf

 

NietoGomez, Anna, “Chicana Feminism,” trans. Alma M. Garcia (London: Routledge, 1997), 52-57.

http://pages.pomona.edu/~tfs04747/Materials25CH/ChicanaFeminism.pdf

 

Ugarte, Sandra, “Chicana Regional Conference,” trans. Alma M. Garcia (London: Routledge, 1997), 153-155.

http://pages.pomona.edu/~tfs04747/Materials25CH/ChicanaRegionalConference.pdf
Activities

  1. Students will listen to a short lecture on the Chicano movements and how the Chicana Feminist movement arose.
  1. Students will read the poem “The Brown Women” by Anita Sarah Duarte.
  1. Students will be asked to annotate the poem to identify characteristics that are associated with Chicanas, identify issues that Chicanas were concerned with, and write down some of their thoughts on the poem.
  1. Students will discuss their findings and thoughts on the poem with their neighbors and then with the class.
  1. Students will then read Anna Nieto-Gomez’s “Chicana Feminism” and Sandra Ugarte’s “Chicana Regional Conference.”
  1. Students will discuss how the poem relates to Chicana Feminism and the issues that Chicana feminists focus on. They will also identify additional characteristics and issues that were not found in the poem, but were mentioned in the second two primary sources.
  1. At the end of the discussion, students will write their thoughts on Chicana Feminism, who it helped, and what it contributed to the overall Chicano and feminist movements. This part of the exercise will be to help students gather their thoughts on how they see Chicana Feminism. The students can look to the essential questions for guidance, but this exercise is primarily a free-write.
  1. Students will discuss what they wrote in pairs of two. They will then share with the class.
  1. Students will be assigned a short essay, mentioned previously, in which they will analyze the poem in relation to the other two primary sources. Students should focus on the Chicana Feminists and their motivations for this movement, how they defined Chicana Feminism, and on the intersectionalities that Chicana Feminism addresses. It will be due in two weeks.

 

Additional Sources

Cotera, Marta, “La Conferencia De mUjeres Por La Raza: Houston, Texas, 1971,” trans. Alma M. Garcia (London: Routledge, 1997), 155-157.

http://pages.pomona.edu/~tfs04747/Materials25CH/LaConferenciadeMujeresPorLaRaza.pdf

Dicochea, Perlita R. “Chicana Critical Rhetoric: Recrafting La Causa in Chicana Movement Discourse, 1970-1979.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, Vol.25 No.1 (2004): 72-92

Flores, Lori A. “A Community of Limits and the Limits of CommunityL MALDEF” Chicana Rights Project, Empowering the “Typical Chicana,” and the Question of Civil Rights, 1974-1983.” Journal of American Ethnic History, Vol. 27 No.3 (2008): 81-110.

Garcia, Alma M. “The Development of Chicana Feminist Discourse, 1970-1980.” Gender & Society, Vol. 3 No.2 (1989): 217-238.

Hurtado, Aída. “Sitios y Lenguas: Chicanas Theorize Feminisms.”Hypatia, Vol.13 No.2 (1998): 134-161.

Orozco, Cynthia E. “Getting Started in Chicana Studies.” Women’s Studies Quarterly, Vol. 18 No. ½ (1990): 46-69.

 

 

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