Rigoberta Menchu and Latino Feminism
Rigoberta Menchu and Latino Feminism
Rigoberta Menchu was born a Quiche, a Latin American indigenous group. Quiches are people who had great reverence for the nature. She grew up in the highlands or atiplano of Guatemala, an area that is not accessible by car. It is because of this attribute of the locale that she considered the place where she lives as a paradise because only people can reach it (Silverstone, 1998). Another factor that added up to her appreciation of her hometown’s remoteness is because Rigoberta was born during the onset of the Guatemalan Civil war and at that time, se felt happy to be far from the hands of the Spanish whom the Quiches called the ladinos.
The land up the mountains spawned crops that are less than what is supposed to be enough for the people. This has to be the reason why they had a very high regard to the environment. As a sign of respect to the earth, they took great care of the crops during sowing because they believe that doing so would make the nature share more to them (Debray, 1994). She appreciated every harvest they had because every good one means that they do not have to go down the mountain and work on coffee plantations now that they had food (Stoll, 1999).
It is evident that the Quiches believed in the sacred feminine. This is perhaps the reason why Rigoberta has great admiration towards nature. Their society is unusually less patriarchal compared to other indigenous groups or even with the non-indigenous society at that time. As Rigoberta shared in her book “I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala,” their customs are little different because it placed the women in their society in the plinth of their social order. She mentioned that Quiche women are of high opinion especially the pregnant women.
Some of their customs include not being allowed to eat in front of a pregnant woman without offering her some of the food because they believed that the child inside the womb would go hungry once he or she is born (Debray, 1994). Women are not seen as mere accessories of procreation, but as valued individuals who play a key role in the society. At some point, there came a time when Rigoberta had to leave the place that she regarded as paradise because the land that her parents cultivated could not produce enough crops to feed anyone.
Her whole family moved from the mountains to the coast and worked with her parents in the coffee plantation. This is where they had lived a very cruel life. Both children and adults have to work in order to be fed. The area where they are living had poor sanitation that is why they became prone to sickness. When Rigoberta was eight, his brother died from malnutrition. This made her mother skip a day of work to mourn for his brother and to make the necessary arrangements for his interment (Debray, 1994). The following day, her mother was not allowed to get back to work for missing a day.
Shortly after this, her other brother was poisoned to death because of the pesticides used in the coffee plants. When the Ladinos started grabbing lands from the peasants, Rigoberta’s father, Vicente, became one of the leaders to protest against this abuse. He led several petitions and protests but he ended up being tortured. The same is also experienced by his brother, who was burned alive as his family watched (Debray, 1994). Rigoberta’s whole family are all victims of the atrocities that are committed during the civil war so one would not be surprised to hear that she had actively participated in putting a stop to these atrocities.
She joined the United Peasant Committee to protest against abuse to the human rights of Indians and to fight for the rights of women. After she triumph all these, she then proceeded to publicizing the difficulties experienced by her people in the hands of the government. Rigoberta Menchu is indeed a woman of strength for after fighting the oppression, even when all was well, she made sure that the world knew what her people went through. References Burgos-Debray, E. (1994). I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala.
London, England: Verso Publishing. Silverstone, M. (1998). Rigoberta Menchu: Defending Human Rights in Guatemala. The City University of New York: Feminist Press. Stoll, D. (1999). Rigoberta Menchu and the Story of All Poor Guatemalans. Boulder. Colorado: Westview Press. Latina Beauty Takes Over the Aesthetic World Carmen Miranda is probably one of the first Latinas to represent the Latina Feminism during the 30’s. Some people call her “The Brazilian Bombshell,” but she was better known as “the woman in the tutti frutti hat.
” She was the highest paid woman in her day, and this could not be attributed with the fruit headdress she wore, but mostly because of her exposed midriff and her exotic body and mischievous charisma (Johnson & Stam, 1995). Some people even refer to her body under the guise of geography. When people talk about the equator and the torrid zone, they are actually conversing about Carmen Miranda’s waist and midriff (Mendible, 2007). Selena Quintanilla Gomez is another Latina who took the world of music by surprise.
She is crowned as the Queen of Tejano Music and is the earliest female in a pop industry dominated by Latino men. As she grew older, her performance became more womanly as she preferred performing wearing a bustier (Koster, 2000). Now, we have Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek, and even the Hispanic Barbie to represent Latina Beauty. It is not just about beauty, but the over-all aesthetic congeniality of the Latina body. If people all over the world would be asked about their concept of beauty, they would probably say that it is a woman with waists smaller than their hips (Mendible, 2007).
It really does not matter how big the waist and the hips are, as long as the first is smaller than the latter. They are unconsciously talking about the prominent hips and buttocks of the Latina women. Who else in the world could manage to have that figure even if the put on 200 pounds? These curves that they exhibit is perhaps the reason why Latina women are always represented “sexiness” and why they have so much impact on the feminine aesthetic (Mendible, 2007). An evidence of this is the result taken from the polls that some popular men’s magazine holds.
The women who make to the top are usually of Hispanic descent. Latinas have presented the world a beauty that is both exceptional and exotic (Mendible, 2007). On the onset, their body is considered to be unacceptable. As more and more Latinas live in the United States, it is only natural that they move away from the aesthetic value that was inculcated in them. They tend to hide their excess curves—they try to throw themselves into the American people’s concept of beauty. All of these have changed when Hollywood started to be riddled with Latina women, One of the most prominent is Jennifer Lopez.
She is often seen as one of the most desirable women in the world. Her popularity redefined the whole world’s attitude toward Latina body as everybody suddenly wanted to have that Jennifer Lopez buttocks, full chests, and wide hips (Mendible, 2007). Of course, objectifying Latina women as the “exotic object of imperial and sexual desire” is not really something that would make Latina feminists happy but it is interesting to note the fact that a lot of people agree that the Latina body is the epitome of being desirable (Mendible, 2007).
The Latinas owe it to celebrities like Selena Quintanilla Perez and Jennifer Lopez that Western popular culture is dominated by Latin women and the overall acceptance of Latinos. It is apparent that their culture has met resistance in various parts of the world but then again, Latinidad got over this phase as the Latinas take over the “politics and erotics of culture” (Mendible, 2007). From the implicit eroticism of wearing bananas on a headdress to explicitly exposing their bodies in movies and music videos, the Latina women have overcome repulsion of the popular culture of their buttocks and curves (Mendible, 2007).
In fact, they have actually become the orthodox of an aesthetically pleasing figure. This is apparent in our society, especially in the media, where producers profit from the voluptuous figures and extraordinary appeal of these Hispanic women. References Johnson, R. , & Stam, R. (1995). Brazilian Cinema. New York: Columbia University Press Koster, R. (2000). Texas Music. New York: St. Martin’s Press Mendible, M. (2007). From Bananas to Buttocks: The Latina Body in Popular Film and Culture. Texas, USA: University of Texas Press
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 24 November 2016
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