Date of Award

Spring 4-26-2010

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

College

College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences

Department

Humanities

Degree Name

Humanities, BA

First Supervisor

Dr. Gerd Horten

Second Supervisor

Dr. Gerd Horten

Abstract

The Hispanic culture makes up a big portion of the minority population in the United States. In fact, Hispanics are currently the nation's largest ethnic or racial minority. “As of July 2007, Hispanics comprised of approximately fifteen percent of the U.S. population, with an estimated 45.5 million individuals reporting Hispanic ethnicity.”1 Those of Mexican-American background, usually born and/or raised in the United States are referred to as Chicanos. I use the term Latino or Latina throughout this thesis also, and it is at times interchangeable with the term Chicana or Chicano. However to clarify, the term Latino/a “includes anyone in the United States who is from or has an ethnic background from Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Latinos and Latinas can speak Spanish, Portuguese, English, French or Indigenous languages. These are people who usually share historical background of being occupied by countries where a romance language is spoken.”

Because many different Latinos share history, traditions, languages, religion, I group them together various times throughout this thesis to state many similarities between Latina women. I focus on the gender roles, such as the wife, child bearing, supervision, and cooking that are thrust upon Chicano women, which asserts a continuous passivity on the part of Latinas’ lack of change in many Latino homes.

The most influential factors in Latinas' lives and their given roles within the family and community come from the Catholic religion that has been traditionally followed for centuries and the religious icons that are to be imitated; the small community relationships and their meddlesome behavior as well as their love and tendency to gossip; the familial influences based on traditional customs; as well as the economy and education Latinas receive. All of these are significant elements that contribute to a Chicana's typical role as a poorly educated house wife, mother, and maid who lives in the lowest part of a male-dominated patriarchy.

Because Latina women have such defined cultural beliefs, it is difficult for them to join the white women's movement, for white women tend to be middle class and were given different stereotyped female roles. In addition, white women did not have to face the dual challenges of race and gender. The issue for Latinas became one of breaking away from what some might call the most valuable possessions in one's life: family and traditional values. These sorts of issues are not addressed in the White women's movement, so Latina women had difficulties establishing their own authentic Chicana Movement. This thesis explores many Latina writers and analyzes their stances on the many issues thrust upon Latina women, such as the heavy influences of religion, community, family, economy, education, and the complexities involved with joining Anglo women's groups.

This thesis also explores ways by which a Latina can actually escape the struggles and the consequences behind making such shifts in our lives. After all, we are the glue that holds the family and communities together.

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