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Chicana feminism, also called Xicanisma, is a group of social theories that analyze the historical, social, political, and economic roles of Mexican American, Chicana, and Hispanic women in the United States.
Chicana feminism maintains that throughout history, women have been relegated, sometimes even abused, in many different societies. In Latin America, just as in Europe and Asia, many women were, for centuries, treated by their fathers, brothers and husbands with discrimination. Women in Latin America, Mexico included, were seen as child-bearers, homemakers and caregivers. These women had to watch their children, perform household chores and cook for their husbands. Many men did not consider women to be capable of working outside the home, which is part of the reason why the term "weaker sex" was coined.
In Latin America, women at those times had to act according to some social standards. In many Latin American cities, for example, women were not seen with good eyes if they spoke to men they did not know. Meanwhile, prostitution, for example, was legal in many Latin American areas, and men were not criticized, but rather seen as heroic, if they had several girlfriends, even if the man was married.
In 1848, with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, Mexico ceded to the U.S. the following territory: Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and part of Colorado and Wyoming. Former citizens of Mexico residing in those territories became U.S. citizens without ever leaving their homes. During the 20th century, Hispanic immigration to the United States began to slowly but steadily change American demographics. By 1940, Los Angeles was one of cities with the largest group of Chicanos in the United States.
Euro-American women also had their own problems: they were also stereotyped as homemakers, caregivers and child-bearers. Unlike women of minority races, however, white women largely evaded dealing with racism, unless they and/or their husbands befriended people of Black or Hispanic background.
Mexican-American men often spoke about "La Familia" ("The Family"). Mexican and Mexican-American women felt they were being left out by men when they spoke about "La Familia".
During the 1970s, a feminist movement took place across the United States. Chicanas wanted to be part of the movement, and so, in 1973, the Comisión Femenil Mexicana Nacional was formed. This commission became an important part of Chicana feminism, as many Chicanas viewed the commission's presidents as heroines. Former United States President Jimmy Carter spoke with one of the commission's former presidents during the early 1980s. Central to much of Chicana feminism is a rewriting of female and maternal archetypes in the form of La Virgen de Guadalupe, La Llorona, and La Malinche, that have prevented Chicanas from achieving sexual, bodily agency. In this light, motherhood and mother-daughter relationships have been negatively portrayed, making a Chicana feminist revision of these mother figures a crucial element of contemporary Chicana feminism. Understanding this shift from traditional (patriarchal) representation to feminist Chicana revision, we may clearly see its influence on the mother-daughter dynamic. In re-thinking the duality of mothers and challenging this traditional context of motherhood, Chicana writers strive to create a complex rendering of the mother-daughter bond. Reclaiming the three mothers is a symbolic reclaiming of the maternal relationship. For it is only by modifying their cultural foremothers that contemporary Chicanas may come to terms with their own maternal relationships. By challenging patriarchal representations, Chicana writers re-construct their relationship as symbolic daughters of these mythic mothers.
Since the 1970s, many Chicana writers (such as Cherríe Moraga, Gloria Anzaldúa and Ana Castillo) have expressed their own definitions of Chicana feminism through their books. Moraga and Anzaldúa edited an anthology of writing by women of color titled This Bridge Called My Back (published by Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press) in the early 1980s. Cherríe Moraga, along with Ana Castillo and Norma Alarcón, adapted this anthology into a Spanish-language text titled Esta Puente, Mi Espalda: Voces de Mujeres Tercermundistas en los Estados Unidos. Anzaldúa also published the bilingual (Spanish/English) anthology, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. Mariana Roma-Carmona, Alma Gómez, and Cherríe Moraga published a collection of stories titled Cuentos: Stories by Latinas, also published by Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press.
Juanita Ramos and the Latina Lesbian History Project compiled an anthology including many oral histories of Latina lesbians called Compañeras: Latina Lesbians (1987).
- Herrera, Cristina. Contemporary Chicana Literature: (Re)Writing the Maternal Script. Amherst: Cambria Press, 2014.'
- Anzaldúa, Gloria, and Cherríe Moraga, editors. This bridge called my back: writings by radical women of color. Watertown, Massachusetts: Persephone Press, c1981., Kitchen Table Press, 1983 ISBN 0-930436-10-5.
- Anzaldúa, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, Aunt Lute Books, ISBN 1-879960-56-7
- Anzaldúa, Gloria. Making Face. Making Soul: Haciendo Caras: Creative & Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color, Aunt Lute Books, 1990, ISBN 1-879960-10-9
- Arredondo, Gabriela, et al., editors. Chicana Feminisms: A Critical Reader. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-8223-3105-5.
- Castillo, Adelaida Del. "BETWEEN BORDERS: ESSAYS ON MEXICANA/CHICANA HISTORY." California: Floricanto Press, 2005.
- Castillo, Ana. Massacre of the dreamers : essays on Xicanisma. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1994. ISBN 0-8263-1554-2.
- Cotera, Martha. The Chicana feminist. Austin, Texas: Information Systems Development, 1977.
- García, Alma M., and Mario T. Garcia, editors. Chicana Feminist Thought: The Basic Historical Writings. New York: Routledge, 1997. ISBN 0-415-91800-6.
- Garcia, Alma M., "The Development of Chicana Feminist Discourse, 1970-1980" in: Gender and Society, Vol. 3, No. 2. (Jun., 1989), pp. 217–238.
- Hurtado, Aida. The Color of Privilege: Three Blasphemies on Race and Feminism. Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1996. ISBN 978-0-472-06531-8.
- Ramos, Juanita. Companeras: Latina Lesbians, Latina Lesbian History Project, 1987, ASIN: B000WWAWLS
- Roma-Carmona, Mariana, Alma Gomez and Cherríe Moraga. Cuentos: Stories by Latinas, Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press.
- Roth, Benita. Separate Roads to Feminism: Black, Chicana, and White Feminist Movements in America's Second Wave, Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN 0-521-52972-7