REVIEW: Chicana Power! Contested Histories of Feminism in the Chicano Movement

Maylei Blackwell, ¡Chicana Power!: Contested Histories of Feminism in the Chicano Movement Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011.
Reviewed by Miroslava Chávez-García

Until now, no one has published a history of the struggle of Chicanas in the Chicano movement—the mass political mobilization of Mexican American peoples in the Southwest US in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The glaring omission is somewhat perplexing, says author Maylei Blackwell, given that Las Hijas de Cuahtemoc (The Daughters of Cuahtemoc, the last emperor of the Aztecs), the first and leading feminist organization of the Chicano movement, emerged alongside other well-known organizations, such as the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA), and that women served as the backbone of the student movement. The oversight is due, in part, she says, to the historical dominance of men in the fields of Chicana/o History and Studies, their implicit disinterest in issues of gender and sexuality, and their explicit marginalization of women in the movement. Blackwell suggests too that stereotypes of Chicanas as malinchistas (traitors), vendidas (sell-outs), and agringadas (white-women wannabes), as well as Chicana scholars’ fear of confirming these negative images, has kept many away from this field of study. Thus, Blackwell’s genealogy of Chicana feminists in the twentieth century is a breakthrough in our knowledge about these mujeres (women).

Review continues here

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