Can a Latina be a Feminist?

The “F” word: feminist; Katy Perry doesn’t want it and neither does Taylor Swift. But what about artists like Shakira and Jennifer Lopez? Why doesn’t the Latino community discuss feminism, or question our role models about feminism? We are a community built by strong women. We all know them: our abuelas, our moms, sisters, and primas. Is it because being a Latina and a feminist don’t mix? Or could it be that many Latinas are feminist and they don’t know it?

What is Feminism?

Feminism and what a feminist is has many definitions depending on whom you ask. Beatrice Serrano, a college student at Oregon State University, says “To me a feminist is sort of like a woman in power, an empowered woman per se. For example, like a woman who isn’t dependent on a man, who can take of herself and knows what she wants and can do it without caring what a man’s opinion is on that.” Jenny Aguilar, high school freshman, has similar thoughts about feminists. “A feminist in my point of view is supporting that women should have rights in different things,” says Aguilar.

Feminism is all of those things, it is about supporting equality for all.

What many Latinas don’t realize is that they are already feminists. Patricia Valoy, creator and blogger of Womanisms, told Ms. magazine in an article on Latina feminist bloggers: “It wasn’t until recently that I decided to identify as a feminist, mainly because I have never heard the term spoken in my household and did not feel that I could identify.” Beatrice reiterates a similar viewpoint stating, “I don’t think we [Latinas] know that we are [feminists], because we don’t know what it is most of the time.” Furthermore, she points out, “You know machismo is in our culture, the guy is always in charge. and us saying what is on our mind, we don’t consider as feminist.”

It is important for young Latinas to understand what feminism is and to identify as such, so that they can continue to create a space for themselves and other Latinas. Women in our community often fight for equality within the home. They run their households and hold their family together; they are strong. Feminism is not just about protesting or hating men; feminism includes simple acts such as a mother raising her son to treat women with respect, reading an article like this one, or even being active and supportive of Latinitas can be considered acts of feminism.

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