Synopses & Reviews
Since the 1980s Chicana writers including Gloria Anzaldanduacute;a, Cherrandiacute;e Moraga, Sandra Cisneros, Ana Castillo, and Alma Luz Villanueva have reworked iconic Mexican cultural symbols such as mother earth goddesses and La Llorona (the Wailing Woman of Mexican folklore), re-imagining them as powerful female figures. After reading the works of Chicana writers who created bold, powerful, and openly sexual female characters, Debra J. Blake wondered how everyday Mexican American women would characterize their own lives in relation to the writersandrsquo; radical reconfigurations of female sexuality and gender roles. To find out, Blake gathered oral histories from working-class and semiprofessional U.S. Mexicanas. In Chicana Sexuality and Gender
, she compares the self-representations of these women with fictional and artistic representations by academic-affiliated, professional intellectual Chicana writers and visual artists, including Alma M. Landoacute;pez and Yolanda Landoacute;pez.
Blake looks at how the Chicana professional intellectuals and the U.S. Mexicana women refigure confining and demeaning constructions of female gender roles and racial, ethnic, and sexual identities. She organizes her analysis around re-imaginings of La Virgen de Guadalupe, La Llorona, indigenous Mexica goddesses, and La Malinche, the indigenous interpreter for Hernandaacute;n Cortandeacute;s during the Spanish conquest. In doing so, Blake reveals how the professional intellectuals and the working-class and semiprofessional women rework or invoke the female icons to confront the repression of female sexuality, limiting gender roles, inequality in male and female relationships, and violence against women. While the representational strategies of the two groups of women are significantly different and the U.S. Mexicanas would not necessarily call themselves feminists, Blake nonetheless illuminates a continuum of Chicana feminist thinking, showing how both groups of women expand lifestyle choices and promote the health and well-being of women of Mexican origin or descent.
andldquo;Debra J. Blakeandrsquo;s approach to the discussion of the archetypes of La Malinche, La Llorona, and La Virgen de Guadalupe, and her inclusion of other lesser-known figures, allow her to go beyond the mere rehashing of the same old discussions as she introduces womenandrsquo;s voices whose very existence questions the archetypes. By including and analyzing personal narratives collected in a series of interviews, the author explores the real-life existence of these figures in contemporary Chicana lives. This scholarly and illuminating text offers a fresh view of these often oversimplified images and icons found in Mexican female iconography.andrdquo;andmdash;Norma E. Cantanduacute;, author of Canandiacute;cula: Snapshots of a Girlhood en la Frontera
andldquo;Debra J. Blake makes a great contribution to Chicano/a studies, feminist theory, folklore, and literary studies. Much has been written on La Malinche, La Llorona, and the Virgin of Guadalupe but Blakeandrsquo;s study is one of the most thorough, perceptive, and brilliantly argued.andrdquo;andmdash;Marandiacute;a Herrera-Sobek, author of Chicano Folklore: A Handbook
A study of working class and elite intellectual Mexican and Mexican American women that focuses on their sexuality and identity, particularly their identification with four primary Mexican female cultural symbols: La Malinche, Aztec goddesses, the Virgin
About the Author
Debra J. Blake is a lecturer in the Department of Chicano Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.
Table of Contents
1. The Power of Representation: History, Memory, and the Cultural Refiguring of La Malinche's Lineage 13
2. Chicana Feminism: Spirituality, Sexuality, and Mexica Goddesses Re-membered 70
3. Las Historias: Sexuality, Gender Roles, and La Virgen de Guadalupe Reconsidered 102
4. Cultural Anxieties and Truths: Gender, Nationalism, and La Llorona Retellings 144
5. Reading Dynamics of Power: Oral Histories, Feminist Research, and the Politics of Location 185