Tag Archives: women

Lost Latina Leaders: Luisa Moreno and the Labor Movement

By Samantha Delgado

Despite being overlooked by a large portion of historians, Latinas played a huge part within the American labor movement. The Latinx community faced higher percentages of living on poverty-level wages than white women, and they were more likely to work in farm work, blue-collar work, and temporary work. These jobs left little for moving up or into other higher paying occupations, and contained harsh working condition. Latinas specifically had the lowest rate of unionization amongst all other groups. Thus, when the chance arose to combat the disparities and disadvantages facing them, Latinas took it and shaped it to fit the needs of their communities.

Latinas took the labor movement as a way to organize their community and uplift themselves from some of the issues that affected them and their community most. In the early to mid 1900s, Mexican and Mexican-American women in the seasonal canning industry in California were able to form one of the largest, most effective labor unions: The United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing and Allied Workers of America (UCAPAWA). As half of the total UCAPAWA’s total membership, numbers showed that Mexican women had the highest percentages of executive board-trustee posts, negotiating-organizing posts, and social and community service positions in UCAPAWA, even compared to their male counterparts. Latinas used the labor movement to heighten their consciousness as females and ethnic minorities facing inequalities in the workplace, and develop organizing strategies of their own.

UCAPAWA also produced one of the most influential Latina leaders of the time: Luisa Moreno. Moreno has been noted as one of the unknown heroes of the labor movement, due to the lack of depth and recognition she receives outside of Latinx history. Her work in the labor movement paved the path for Linda Chavez-Thompson and other Latina labor leaders alike. From Tampa cigar-rolling plants, New York City garment shops, and canneries in Los Angeles, she organized in various communities for workers across the country. Moreno would go on to become the Vice President of UCAPAWA, making her the first-ever female V.P. of a major union. Using her power as a leader in several communities, Moreno organized the first national Latino civil rights assembly, as well as a Mexican Civil Rights committee in San Diego. She spoke out on racial profiling and police brutality against Mexican-Americans as well as other ethnic minorities. Sadly, she was deported due to a major operation against Mexican and Mexican-Americans. It is devastating not just to the Latinx community, but to the history of the labor movement that her story and work has often gone overlooked. Moreno is not the only Latina who has been ignored by historians, and it is crucial that as scholars, we dig deeper into history and give light to the unsung heroes of the Latinx community.

UCAPAWA was just one example of the many ways Latinas used the labor movement to understand their own concerns as both women and Latina (and what those two parts of their identity mean). It showed how they came together collectively to organize for their issues, negotiate their benefits as workers, and take active leadership roles both within and outside the unions.

Despite being ignored by historians, Latina union membership grew from 500,000 to 3.5 million in a span of 7 years during the early to mid 1900s. Our history–– Latinx history–– has been repeatedly ignored, and therefore, young Latinx people lack the encouragement to get involved with their communities, like Moreno did. Latinas like Moreno deserve their work and contribution to be recognized. By telling others about Moreno’s work, and getting involved in our own communities, we can give her and other Latina leaders the recognition they deserve.

WMN EMPWRMNT: GABRIELLE MONTES DE OCA

By Melissa Hurtado

GABRIELLE MONTES DE OCA

Q: What does woman empowerment mean to you?

A: Women empowerment means sisterhood and solidarity.

Every woman on this planet is fighting the same fight each and every day. No matter how different two women are, they likely share similar experiences when it comes to gender-based oppression. These experiences connect women in a unique way- it makes us sisters and sisters stand together.

Q: What does being a woman mean to you?

A: Womanhood means freedom and possibility, but when it doesn’t, it means stoicism and strength.

Being a woman allows me to safely explore what it means to be pretty. Femininity and prettiness are intertwined, and as a woman, I get to have fun with both. I also get to be vulnerable and sensitive with those I trust. I have deep, meaningful friendships with men and women. Men are not as safe doing the same.

However, as a woman, I have faced danger and limitations. My parents raised me with fear, afraid of how the world could hurt me so they did their best to control and shelter me for as long as they could. It came with love “but a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams.”

I can’t blame them- I have felt fear when I would walk home and strange men would yell at me, or when I would get stared at on the metro, or when I got followed to my car, or when I was flashed in a university parking lot, or when a faculty member at university tried to force me into an embrace.
In these events, as a woman, I have to stand my ground and be strong.

Q: What do you bring to the table when it comes to women empowerment?

A: I bring vegan, love filled donuts, an open mind, a big heart, and loads of La Croix.

WMN EMPWRMNT: Alexandra Marie Vargas

Photography and Interview by Melissa Hurtado

ALEXANDRA MARIE VARGAS

Q: What does woman empowerment mean to you?

A: Woman empowerment is what allows us, women, to comfortably have a mind of our own. It’s what allows us to express how we feel and do what we love. It is freedom. It is a step closer to being equal to one another as it should be.

Q: What does being a woman mean to you?

A: To be a woman is to be brave. to be bold. to be strong. to be love. I believe it isn’t the easiest role, but one of the most beautiful ones.

Q: What do you bring to the table when it comes to women empowerment?

A: What I bring to the table in focus of woman empowerment is knowledge, ingenuity, and kindness. I feel that they play such a big role in woman empowerment for individuality. Knowledge binds us with ourselves and allows us to open our mind to know more than what we’ve been told to do or feel. Bringing out our own ingenuity that differentiates one from another. With kindness, we accept and love one another.

Terms You Should Know #4: Sex Positivity

By Nicole Rizzo

Here’s a brief definition of sex positivity from the Women and Gender Advocacy Center at Colorado State University at http://www.wgac.colostate.edu/sex-positivity:

“Like many terms within feminism, sex positivity means different things to different people. As a broad ideology and world view, sex positivity is simply the idea that all sex, as long as it is healthy and explicitly consensual, is a positive thing.”

Sex positivity resonates with the message of various social and philosophical movements (i.e. body positivity) that aim to critique and deconstruct (hetero)normative social mores that exclude and marginalize different groups of people. As an increasingly inclusive notion, sex positivity is a means to celebrating the complex, diverse, and expansive nature of sexuality. Its strict focus on consent serves as an ideological tool for combating issues related to sexual assault, domestic violence, and other forms of gender-based violence.

Sex positivity is not something that endorses the idea that “if someone really loves sex” (an idea which this term does not necessarily connote either) then that allows an individual to judge others for their sexual activity or orientation. It is not about judging others. It is not about exclusion. Sex positivity promotes people, pleasure, and people giving/receiving pleasure.

See Dr. Carol Queen, educator, writer, sociologist, sexologist, and sex-positive feminist, at http://goodvibesblog.com/sex-positivity/ for more on what sex positivity is and is not!

 

*Content above based on lecture by Dr. Carol Queen at BU CGSA and from her blog: http://goodvibesblog.com/sex-positivity/

Why is this term relevant:

The message of sex positivity is one of inclusion that encourages healthy and consensual sex!

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-11-05-58-pm

Photo courtesy: http://venusplusx.org/want-teens-to-have-positive-sexual-health-sex-positivity-can-help-with-that-2/

Watch this video about sex positivity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVwQdE7wIQA

TYSK #3: Misandry (and why it’s not a thing)

Misandry (definition: hatred of men) is not a thing.

This is a controversial statement to make.

However, when feminists use this catchy slogan, we are completely aware of the fact that there are, indeed, situations in which men are disadvantaged by their gender. We are not disputing this fact, we are simply pointing out that, given the current reality that men hold the “one-up position” in society, true misandry does not occur and cannot occur on a large enough scale for it to merit the same amount of attention and activism that misogyny does. In other words, the current societal climate necessitates that issues of misandry are not our primary concern.

Hence, the feminist slogan, “Misandry is not a thing”.

Feminists are consciously refusing to spend an equal amount of time and effort addressing misandry, because an equal amount of time and effort should not be allocated to solve the subsidiary issues of the privileged group.

Even so, often in the midst of conversation regarding feminism someone points out how men are left out of the discussion. This person (if not arguing from the standpoint that feminism is secretly advocating  men’s oppression) argues that if feminists wish to get men on their side, they ought to include talk about both men and women’s issues. Focusing solely on women supposedly alienates the people feminists need to ally with in order to enact social change.

This is why there is such opposition to the term “Feminism” as used to describe the movement towards gender equality. If it is a movement based on eliminating pernicious social norms and structures which disadvantage both men and women, why not call it “Equalism” or something of the like?

The answer is that feminism is named thusly to put the focus on the disadvantaged group: women. The pernicious social norms and structures are damaging to women far more often than they are to men. This is true to such an extent that in our society, the supposedly neutral human – the default – is a man. So when we choose to use the term “Feminism,” or the slogan “misandry is not a thing,” we do so intentionally to direct the focus to the group who is most often ignored, underrepresented, and harmed.

Yes, men, we need you on the side of feminism for this whole thing to work. But we do not need to mitigate our efforts to solve women’s issues by addressing misandry as much as we address misogyny. To do so would be to enforce male privilege, not lessen it. The process of achieving equality of the sexes requires men to give up their privileges, one of which is their expectation to be included in and catered to by every institution and discussion.

Feminists are not in any way advocating the systematic oppression of men by using the slogan “Misandry is not a thing.” We are not telling men that it is impossible that their gender could somehow disadvantage them, either. We are simply asserting the point that misandry, here and now, in this discussion, is not relevant. Misogyny is.

The unfortunate day could hypothetically arrive when men are the underprivileged group and misandry does merit our attention, but that day is nowhere in the near future. Those who cry “Misandry!” when they hear “Feminism!” need to stop yelling fire before someone has even lit a candle.

For further reading:

If I Admit That ‘Hating Men’ Is a Thing, Will You Stop Turning It Into a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

Sorry, Men, You’re STILL Not Oppressed: Reexamining the Fallacies of “Misandry”

This post was written in partial response to:

On the Misandry Isn’t a Thing Thing

Sexual Fluidity in Women

Fluidity
Credit: QCMississippiMud.com via EverydayFeminism.com

In certain circles I have found myself in recently, I have felt a pressure to be so self-aware and self-reflective at such a young age that it seems as though you have to fully know your entire sexuality. While the individuals in these circles certainly recognize sexual fluidity in an academic sense, sexual fluidity in the practical application comes across as naiveté and even ignorant. I have noticed a pressure to define the self –“I’m trans*, I’m pansexual, I’m gay”–granted, there are more boxes to fit into, but a box nonetheless. The vulnerability that accompanies sexual fluidity is real and frightening, and it is not readily acceptable to say “I’m still figuring it out” in regards to your sexuality even among enlightened, educated, seemingly-accepting groups.

Seeing homosexuality as a “phase” is an opinion that has bothered me in the past, but an analysis entitled “Gender Differences in Erotic Plasticity: The Female Sex Drive as Socially Flexible and Responsive” by Roy Baumeister may have transformed my thinking. Although it does trivialize and insult the experiences of lifelong lesbians, the “just a phase” notion may have some value. The concept of sexual plasticity indirectly endorses the idea of lesbianism as a phase, but instead of thinking of it as one singular phase, we should think in a more pluralistic sense that our sexualities consist of multiple, intertwined phases.

Ideally, we could restructure our understanding of female sexuality so there is less pressure to define the self and cramp our fascinating, complex, surprising sexualities into little boxes. The concept of bisexuality, especially in regards to long-term relationships, leads to an interesting question. Is bisexuality a phase? It is rare to encounter an individual who identifies as bisexual and who has been in a monogamous relationship for several years or even decades. At what point does a bisexual woman start identifying themselves as gay or straight, depending on their chosen partner? It has been suggested that female erotic plasticity evolved as an evolutionary adaptation. Sexual fluidity is advantageous through periods of life transition such as a romantic separation, having a child, the death of a partner, getting a new job, or general aging, and can help women adjust their sexual needs and expectations depending upon circumstances. A study indicated that from puberty onward, men tend to keep their rate of orgasms relatively constant throughout the lifespan, either through masturbation or partnered sex, while women’s frequency of orgasms tends to reflect her fluctuating sexual desire and expectations and thus erotic plasticity.

Sexual fluidity is even displayed in popular television such as Orange Is the New Black, which is based on the story of Piper Kerman, a middle-class woman sentenced to prison after transporting drug money. In prison, Piper reunites with her drug-dealing girlfriend, despite being affianced to her male partner, out of sheer desperation for human contact and warmth. Piper’s return to lesbianism because of her situation may be termed “gay behind bars”, but other new language has been created to reflect women’s sexual flexibility. Words such as “has-bian”, “heteroflexibility”, and “LUG–lesbian until graduation” are all coming into our current vernacular. A term I heard recently used in relation to a man, but could also be applied to women, is “GIFFY,” meaning “gay in five (fucking) years”. This acronym can be used to describe an individual who identifies as straight but acts otherwise, who the speaker believes will finally come out years later. This language may be seen as degrading or useful. While it only perpetuates stereotypes, reinforces the idea that timing is intimately tied to lesbianism, and forces people into boxes, this language is frequently created and used by the queer community.


Editors’ suggestions for additional reading:

Pope Francis Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers

His Holiness spoke out against the role of women in the Church shifting from one of “service” to one of “servitude”, as reported on Globalpost. For this, we commend the Holy Father.

However, in elaborating his point, the Supreme Pastor (a man of many names – seriously, check them out here) went on to make some points which are worth questioning:

The “sort of emancipation” that allows women to enter traditionally male domains may rob them of “the very femininity that characterizes them”.

Whatever cultural and social changes have occurred or may occur, “the fact remains that it is the woman who conceives, carries and brings into the world the children of men,” the pontiff said.

While his aim was to highlight the importance of women in society, this may not quite be the right approach, because:

  • His claims are essentialist. ‘Essentialism‘ means believing that a woman is somehow truly, deep in her core, identifiable as a woman; being a woman is not simply the result of different attributes and behavior. (as described in this other Hoochie post).

The debates over essentialism rage on. Whether the Pope’s viewpoint is supported by evidence is one question; yet another is whether we should criticize the Church for its views… are the women in question not there of their own will?

I don’t know what is right – but it’s worth asking the question.

What do you think – how do feminist ideas fit in with the Catholic Church?

“But Empowered Women Deflate My Dick!”

Every once in a while, someone decides that it is advisable to spew their ignorant, asinine nonsense all over the internet in a perfect representation of the hideous, nauseated cave-dweller which they prove themselves to be.

This is exactly what the hobgoblin who goes by the name of Matt Forney has accomplished.

See if you can tell which statement regarding women comes from his personal blog, and which is a collection of factually inaccurate, inane ramblings crafted by yours-truly (spoiler: this will be more difficult than it looks):

Option 1:

Whenever a girl I’m talking to brags about how she’s “confident” and “strong,” I can feel my dick deflating like a punctured tire. I’d still bang her, of course; a repellent personality doesn’t negate the fact that she has a slammin’ body. But a crucial part of the attraction is lost. I’d be less offended if she ripped a fart in my face.

The idea that women should have self-esteem or need it, beyond a low baseline to ensure they don’t commit suicide or become psycho stalkers, is one of the most disastrous social engineering experiments of the modern era. A woman with excessive confidence is like a man with a vagina. It’s an attribute that is at best superfluous and at worst prevents women from fulfilling their natural biological and social functions.

Option 2:

Whenever a girl I’m talking to goes off about how she is an “empowered” woman cause she has a job and career, all I can think of is “Wow, what a waste of a fine pair tits-and-ass.” I mean, I really can’t think of a bigger turn-off than some chick who acts like she deserves respect for pretending to be a serious professional. There is nothing more useless to society than a “career woman.” Her time would be better spent on my dick or in the kitchen – for the sake of efficiency, let men do men’s jobs so they don’t have to waste their time cleaning up the mess some chick made, and regretting that they hired her in the first place.

The idea that a woman deserves the same respect as a man is absurd. She is half as capable as men are if she is lucky. If a girl expects to be regarded as a man, she has to play by our rules, and I haven’t met one woman who wouldn’t crumble if she were held to the same standards as men are held to.

Well, there you have it.  Can you tell which one is real? Click here to find out (but not if you want to be in a good mood afterwards).

The point is that us feminists need to be cognizant of the fact that people like this do, indeed, still exist. Hopefully, you will only have to come into contact with them rarely. When you do, proceed with caution, as it may be difficult for you to resist body-slamming them off of Planet Earth for the good of humanity.

“Feminism has f…

“Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties.

Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions…for safety on the streets…for child care, for social welfare…for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.

If someone says, “Oh, I’m not a feminist,” I ask, “Why, what’s your problem?”“

Dale Spender