La Chicana Lecture Notes

After reviewing this lecture you should be able to:

  1. 1)  ConceptualizeChicanasunderstandingofsexandsexualityandsilenceregarding these discussions
  2. 2)  ComprehendwhyChicanalesbians“threaten”theChicanocommunity

In Zavella’s article “Talkin’ sex: Chicanas and Mexicanas theorize about silences and sexual pleasures” we learn that the some Chicanas/Mexicanas Zavella spoke with in her research were taught that to speak about sex, sexuality and to engage (and enjoy) sex was dishonorable. In some examples nicknames or code words were used in lieu of the words vagina and penis. Zavella hypothesizes that this silence concerning sex (and sexuality) may influence the teen pregnancy rate among Chicanas and Latinas. Further, De Anda et al in their article, “Sexuality, pregnancy, and motherhood among Mexican-American adolescents” argue that when sex was discussed among their sample the information exchanged was inaccurate or vague. De Anda etal add, “Few mothers of the Mexican-American adolescents provided daughters with specific information about sex. Most of the Mexican-American adolescents received no instruction whatsoever from their parents regarding sexual behavior” (De Anda et al., 406). This research is consistent with Zavella’s study.

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Researchers point out that with acculturation and changes in social economic status and educational achievement, sex talk increases. That is to say, that more education one has the more information Chicanas/Latinas will know about sex, sexuality and their bodies. However, culture plays are large influence over the knowledge Chicanas/Latinas have about sex and sexuality.

Meanwhile, Trujillo (1997) in her writing on Chicanas lesbians argues that in order to be true to yourself as a Chicana lesbian you must grapple and reconcile with your sexuality as this is a huge part of your identity. However, she argues that this is difficult within the Chicanocommunity because as a Chicana lesbian you are a threat. That is, “their [Chicana lesbians] existence disrupts the established order of male dominance, and raises the consciousness of many Chicana women regarding their own independence and control” (p. 281). Per Trujillo (1997), the perceived threat is in part based in fear. She adds that Chicana lesbians threaten the Chicano community through fear within four realms. These include the following:

1) Sexuality-Chicanasaretaughtthatbehaviorregardingsexandsexualitymustconformto certain norms (i.e., marianismo); if you go outside these culturally and socially proscribed norms you bring shame upon yourself and your reputation is dishonored

  1. Trujillo (1997) states, “We, as women, are taught so suppress our sexual desires and needs by conceding all pleasure to the male. As Chicanas, we are commonly led to believe that even talking about our participation and satisfaction in sex is taboo” (p. 282).
  2. Trujillo adds that most women know little about their bodies
  3. Confronting sexuality must be done to confront lesbianism


d. This may lead to internalized homophobia and sexism if not able to reconcile sexuality

  1. 2)  Identification-Womenaretaughtthattobecompletetheymustbeconnectedtoaman (i.e., “You complete me.” ~Jerry Maguire); in a patriarchal society we are taught that we are not as smart as men, nor as valuable; we must compete against other women for men

    a. Trujillo notes that in order to maintain heterosexual privilege we must be connected to a man- this relationship is reinforced by society (i.e., law, church, family, etc.)

    b. Women are viewed as property- father relinquishes control of daughter to husband; Daughter changes maiden name (once her father’s) to husband’s last name

    c. Trujillo asserts that Chicana lesbians challenge the Chicano community because they do not participate in this “game” of “compulsory heterosexuality” (p. 283)

  2. 3)  Motherhood-anextensionofthenotionthatwomenarenotcompletewithoutaman;that is, they are not complete unless they have children
    1. Chicana lesbians that have children are viewed as abnormal within the culture
    2. Chicana lesbians are “failing to partake in one of their chief obligations in life”

      (Trujillo, p. 284).

  3. 4)  Religion-thePopedoesnotcondoneagaylifestyle;becausetheChicanocommunityis mostly Catholic their lifestyle is not approved by the Catholic religion;
    1. Chicanas who confront their sexuality must challenge their religious belief systems and decide whether to maintain, alter or leave religion
    2. Religion based on patriarchy- includes sexual, emotional and psychological control

Although Chicana lesbians and non-lesbians are not the same, Trujillo (1997) notes that these two groups can come together on three levels to advocate for one another. Namely the following:

  1. 1)  All women are given less privilege and value than men
  2. 2)  Allwomenmustcontendwiththethreatofthebody-throughsexualassault,harassment,


  3. 3)  SexualityisrepressedbyChicanoculture





    Directions: Address the instructor-initiated questions listed below in a minimum 200 word post. You ALSO need to select ONE student reading presentation and respond to the DB questions to receive full credit. EACH response should be at least 200 words (for a total of a minimum of 400 words).



    Per some of our authors, society conditions women to believe that they are not complete unless they get married and have children.  How do you reconcile this belief with the nonconsenting sterilization of Mexican women (Gutiérrez) and the “voluntary” sterilization of Puerto Rican women (La Operacíon video)?   In other words, how do you reconcile these two contradictory beliefs?

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