“We called ourselves ‘Feministas'”
Sitting around my dining room table, my friends asked me, “why do you like Frida Kahlo so much?” Well, why not? I’m proud of my heritage, my language and the humanistic values governing my personal relationships and she is the symbol of everything I am proud to be a part of in Mexican culture. She was a non-conformist and ahead of her time in all aspects that scream out I am not what you want me to be and fuck you.
I carry this sense of pride being a Chicana, and when I read Separate Roads to Feminism by Benita A Roth, I can’t help but to feel even more so.
In 1969, Chicanas and Chicanos were vastly outnumbered by whites and Blacks in college campuses. In the words of Roth, they were isolated. Historically, in the 60s and 70s, there were no college Chicano campuses to attend as there were for Blacks, and Chicanos remained severely underrepresented in higher education.
I painted a portrait of my grandmother as a final for my art class and my family seemed to really admire my work. One of my uncles asked me, “Why didn’t you ever tell us you knew how to draw?” Well, you never asked.
As I welcomed this new year with my family in Mexico, there was not a missing statement of how pretty I looked, how much weight I had lost and how much of a woman I had become. There was only one remark about my schooling and inquiries about how I had ended my first semester of my third year in college, something only my sister and I have accomplished out of all the females in my family.
Mi nana me dijo algo durante mi visita que se quedo conmigo. En las palabras de Marina, “El valor de una mujer es esa partesita apestosa entre sus piernas.”
My grandmother told me something during my visit that has stuck with me. In the words of Marina, “The value of a woman is that stinky little part in between her legs.”
Forty years after a Chicana’s college attendance expanded, their sense of a traditional female role in studying her history that went beyond the individual, these Chicana women felt their oppression was a result of a policy, a policy that could be changed with higher education.
Machismo in Chicano culture was a reaction to Anglo domination, and discarded the interests of community process which required a radical and revolutionary change in order for Chicanas to no longer remain in a subservient role or as auxiliary forces in the movement, said Roth.
The words of my grandmother took that first Chicana’s freedom/progress/education/desire from me. Her words constricted me to being a house-wife and only being an object to a man’s satisfaction. A woman’s worth is not that stinky little part in between her legs, a woman’s worth is not being pretty or slim, a woman’s worth is not even looking like a woman.
A woman’s worth is what she has to offer the world. It’s her education, her sense of humor, her laugh, her political views, her family values. A woman’s worth is everything but physical.