Written from the Margins: The Power of Chicana Voices in Defining Their Own Feminism

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Little, Mackenzie
thesis / dissertation description
Chicana feminist organizing, beginning in the 1970s and continuing as a movement today, exposes the exclusionary nature of the various currents of White feminism at the time, and the structures of racism and classism faced by Mexican-American women. Why would the cause of feminism, the pursuit of women’s equality as seen by White feminists, ignore the intersection of oppressions present in marginalized women’s lives? White women’s focus on gender identity, setting aside other parts of identity such as race, ethnicity, class, education, religion, or citizenship, causes undue detriment to identity-based empowerment. The rhetoric and understandings of positionality circulating through Chicana living rooms, meetings, and social justice initiatives articulate what Gloria Anzaldúa termed interlocking oppressions, the lived experience of multiple oppressions based on social and economic categories. As White women were focused on pursuing workplace equality and ways out of 1950s housewifery, there were, and continue to be, less publicized, increasingly radical movements among marginalized women. The experiences shared by Chicana women in intellectual, social, and emotional circles during the 1960s and 1970s, gave birth to new lenses, voices, and intricacies in gender theory, revolutionary feminism, and the politics of change.