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Showing posts with label latina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label latina. Show all posts

26 March 2017

Review: Ovarian Psycos on PBS

In the fifth grade a few of my friends & I wanted to feel connected. We decided to always were jean jackets and call ourselves a gang. Of course our teacher stepped in and said it was ok to want to band together, but not call ourselves a gang. She never fully explained it, or I have forgotten, but it was clear that as working class kids, most of us Latin@, that calling ourselves a gang was not cool.at.all. But while we couldn't call ourselves a gang, we still stuck together until we grew apart. Nevertheless I would continue to want to organize my groups of friends into tight circles.

That is why when I watched Ovarian Psycos I was emotional. While my working class upbringing is far from the life we see in this new documentary, that sense of wanting to create your own family struck me to my core. What we get in this documentary are tales of young women seeking to strengthen their community by banding together, riding their bikes around LA, and being bad ass. Ovarian Psycos is a tale of love and determination. I highly recommend this documentary.     

Ovarian Psycos is a documentary about a new generation of young women of color from the Eastside of Los Angeles who are confronting injustice, building community, and redefining identity through a raucous, irreverently named bicycle crew: The Ovarian Psycos Cycle Brigade. Produced and directed by Joanna Sokolowski and Kate Trumbull-LaValle, Ovarian Psycos premieres on Independent Lens Monday, March 27, 2017, 10:00-11:00 PM ET (check local listings) on PBS.

14 March 2017

Review: America Issue 1


America Chavez, aka Miss America, finally has her own stand alone series and if you missed the news I wouldn't be surprised. While America's arrival has been a hit especially in the feminist and LGBT media, if you went to Marvel.com and tried to find any news, you'd find yourself on a character page that doesn't have an icon yet.

Maybe this reflects a hesitancy to fully embrace this bad ass queer Latina superhero? In the first issue we get to meet America as she kicks ass, kisses her girlfriend, punches Hitler, and has a horrible first day at college. I legit cried when I saw that she is attending Sotomayor University. I mean, THIS COMIC!!

Go ahead and click on this section of the map to read the motto of S.U. I need a hoodie from this school.

Why should you pick up a copy?

Because it is a moral imperative. America is part of the growing Marvel universe that looks like the world. She also looks and acts like a young Latina ready to be on her own, complete with the swagger and attitude of a young person. Alas, keeping with the trope that one must rise above without parents, America has lost her mothers. Marvel is working on representation in relation to our superhero and her creators and it matters, so buy a copy.

Outside of supporting representative media, it is a great first issue. While I am a comics reader and have been consuming a lot of Marvel since Thor was reborn as a woman in 2014, I am not super familiar with America's backstory. Which can be good when a comic is relaunched like this. There is enough backstory and current story that left me wanting more. Plus America reminds me of so many of my Latinx friends that I can not wait to see what she does next.

Go buy a copy from your local comic book store or buy a digital copy from Marvel.

Disclaimer: I bought my own copy and get no kick back for telling you to buy this comic.

17 November 2016

Book Review: 2nd Edition of Beautiful You by Rosie Molinary


Six years ago an inspiring daily mediation on self-love was released. Recently Rosie Molinary released an updated edition of Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance.

From my initial review of the book:

Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance by Rosie Molinary is a self-help guide for those of us who don't like self-help guides. Beautiful You is a book of 365 daily life prompts that not just asks you to reconsider how you see yourself, but to push you to try new things (stop apologizing: ever notice how many times you start things with "I'm sorry but...") that help you readjust how you view yourself, the world and how you connect to the world.

In the new edition there is obviously a new cover, but also a new introduction, a new acknowledgments and then about 50 posts were either updated or replaced. Rosie's favorite new post is Day 362. Rosie gave me the scoop on the new edition.

When approached by Seal Press to revisit her book for updating she discovered that a few passages no longer spoke to her or she realized she approached the topics differently. Overall, what she realized in her own self-acceptance work is that so much of our pain is really the result of a lack of awareness of our own self-worth.
If you value yourself, you don’t hurt other people. And if you value yourself, you don’t hurt yourself. We want so much to be heard and seen and understood, and the reality is that the very first person we need that from is ourselves. If we can begin to see our own worth, the world expands for us.
I wrote Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance to give people a tool where they could collect all the evidence of their worthiness. This isn’t a book where I tell readers to believe in themselves. This is a book where the readers become the writer and compile all the proof- which is already inside of them- of how very worthy they are. My hope is that the book provides readers with a journey into a relationship with themselves that is not adversarial and that is life changing.
To get your own copy please purchase from an indie bookstore or Powells.com.

Disclaimer: The only payment I received was the copy of the book.

22 February 2016

Stopping HIV in the Latino Community One Conversation at a Time


I am proud to be part of the CDC's national communication campaign - We Can Stop HIV One Conversation at a Time / Podemos Detener el VIH Una Conversación a la Vez - to bring awareness of HIV and encourage conversations about HIV prevention in the Latino community as a paid ambassador.

The numbers can be scary. Hispanics/Latinos continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV. Although representing 17% of the total US population, Hispanic/Latinos account for 21% of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV in the United States and 23% of new diagnoses.

What the Latino community needs to realize is that the first step to stopping HIV in the our community is talking about it, but so many people in our community still remain silent. Research indicates that talking openly about HIV can be a simple but powerful way to eliminate some of the stigma, negative stereotypes, and shame that are too often associated with HIV within some segments of our community that prevent many from talking, getting tested, disclosing their HIV status, and seeking treatment.

To help Hispanics/Latinos start these critical conversations, the campaign provides resources, including a dedicated campaign website and practical tools and tips to help families and friends begin or continue important conversations about HIV prevention, testing, and treatment.

I joined other One Conversation ambassadors for a Twitter chat last week. It was fun and enlightening to see what others were thinking about HIV awareness in our communities.  A lot of people cited the stigma Latino families have around sex. I have always found that so ironic that we are stereotypically seen as hypersexual. But it is true, Latinos find it difficult to talk to their children about sex, much less HIV prevention.

I hope that the CDC's campaign site helps parents who need support talking to their kids about HIV prevention. We can bring down the rates of infection One Conversation at a Time.

31 January 2016

No Más Bebés Premieres on Independent Lens

No Más Bebés tells the story of a little-known but landmark event in reproductive justice, when a small group of Mexican immigrant women sued county doctors, the state, and the U.S. government after they were sterilized while giving birth at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the late 1960s and early 1970s.



This moving (seriously, have tissues at hand!) documentary about the human rights abuses inflicted on Latinas in the 1960s and 1970s will have you up in arms. My friend and colleague, Elena R. Gutiérrez did a lot of the research work to help put together this puzzle. In a blog post about the film she says:
“No Más Bebés” also shows that socially grounded attitudes relating to ethnicity and gender can play a role in the provision of reproductive health care services; a message that is important for us to hear today. In my own research I show that the abusive practices that occurred at LACMC were not only shaped by debates on population control, but also by concerns about increased immigration from Mexico and the stereotype that Mexican women gave birth to too many children. Through tracing newspaper articles, organizational records and scholarly research in Fertile Matters: The Politics of Mexican-origin Women’s Reproduction, I show how these “stereotypes” about Mexican immigrant women being hyper-fertile and “having too many children” are deeply-rooted beliefs that are part and parcel of institutionalized racism and were perpetuated by the media, social science, and immigration control activists throughout the 20th century carrying into the 21st century. Beyond representations of the perpetually “pregnant pilgrim” who came to the United States purposefully to have children born on US soil so that that they could become American citizens (an idea perpetuated in both Mexican news media and popular culture), “hyperfertility” as a social construct became significantly entrenched in academia, and has thus gained legitimacy in both scholarly research and policy response. I argue that this context and the general public perception that Latina women are significantly more “fertile” than women of other races and ethnicities influenced medical practitioners’ behaviors.
Elena R. Gutierrez is an Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She is also co-author of Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organizing for Reproductive Justice, which will be reprinted by Haymarket Press in April and director of the Reproductive Justice Virtual Library.

This is an important film to view and discuss. I do not want you to just watch it, think and stop there. No. This film calls for action. It demands it. I saw a sneak preview of No Mas Bebes about a year ago and was floored. And I know much of the history already. What makes this such a powerful film is that you hear from the women who were robbed of future children. They were robbed of that decision to even have future children. You hear from their families. It is just, gah...

At the moment we are in the midst of the 2016 Presidential campaign. We have candidates who are railing against anchor babies, wanting to use religious tests on refugees and then those who are calling for the end of the Hyde Amendment in order to increase women's access to reproductive services. All of these moments are connected because the government wants to say who is welcome not just in the USA, but who is welcome to reproduce and parent. Too often the feminist movement is seen as just about abortion, but an intersectional feminist movement is concerned about parenting as well.

On top of this political conversation is the recent worry over the Zika virus. A health issue that is worth of concern over who is getting pregnant, the governments that are calling for women to hold off on getting pregnant and failing to give them access to the tools (birth control and abortion) to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. 

This film premieres on February 1st on your loca PBS station. Watch it, tweet it, share it, discuss it. It's that important and not just to Latinas around the world.


22 January 2016

Review: South Texas Experience: Love Letters by Noemi Martinez

Noemi Martinez is an old school zinester who was also part of the first wave of feminist bloggers. She is also someone who never traded in her zines for a purely digital format. In South Texas Experience: Love Letters Martinez takes us for an emotional peek into her life. Illustrated by photos her son took, it is a beautiful ode to a part of the country that normally only gets negative media mentions, if ever thought of at all. This zine is a lovely addition to anyone's zine or poetry collection.

I purchased a copy myself. It was well worth it. You should find out yourself!

31 December 2015

Chicago Women Who Owned 2015



When I asked social media which Chicago women kicked ass in 2015, I got a list far too long to do justice. I also realized how many of my lady friends kick ass every day, but it's a constant kicking of the ass, not a lot of headline kicking. Ya know what I mean? So I tried to make this list a mix of Chicagoans who had some headline kicks and some who kick ass every day and deserve a shout out. Let's get started, shall we?

Photos from social media or public domain pages

Luvvie Ajayi

Luvvie did my job and summed up her amazing year herself! I love it when women do that. Yes, let's take a moment to reflect on our accomplishments and dance at our own parties. Luvvie makes us laugh, even when we want to cry. She pushes us to be active, even down to our shoes. You'll never laugh so hard when learning so much than when you are in a meeting with her. From hanging with celebs to her epic travel schedule, Luvvie definitely owned 2015.

Charlene Carruthers

Carruthers is on a lot of lists this year for her leadership of the Black Youth Project 100. Chicago's response to police killing young people of color, particularly young black men, did not begin with the Laquan McDonald tape. No, Carruthers and her posse of social justice warriors have been organizing Chicago's youth of color for sometime now. Many credit this larger organizing as to why Chicago's reaction to the McDonald tape was swift, pointed and why Chicago did not burn. And while most media is focused on black men and boys, BYP100 continues to say the names of the many black women and girls also killed by state violence. When allegations of rape were made against a BYP100 leader, Carruthers and the organization took those seriously by not only meeting with the survivor, but suspending the accused: "As an organization rooted in a Black queer feminist framework, we take reports of sexual assault extremely seriously." That's what feminist leadership should look like.

Keidra Chaney

Keidra is a good friend, but that shouldn't stop us from celebrating her accomplishments this year! For 8+ years she has run, The Learned Fangirl, a smart, feminist take on pop culture and all things geek. To celebrate 8 years, Keidra announced that TLF had received a grant and a fiscal sponsor in order to PAY writers (ZOMG, right?) and to take TLF to the next level. I know how hard she must have worked to get to that moment. She also gave a fab talk at the National Women's Studies Association conference.

Ana Fernatt

The sole woman to nominate herself on my FB wall was Ana Fernatt. She hosts the podcast "Champagne & Snark." Fernatt invites interesting people to drink champagne while discussing their work and impact in the world. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to her conversation with Alysse Dalessandro, whom I met years ago at some Chicago feminist gathering. This is not a clean, hi-produced podcast but the rawness suits the conversations.

Amy Guth

A friend and supporter of #365FeministSelfie, Guth started 2015 quitting one of her many jobs to pursue more jobs! Now you know why I love this woman. One of her new projects is to create a documentary series about online harassment...which quickly got her a lot of online harassment! I'd say she hit a bulls eye there. Guth gave AWJ-Chicago, where she serves as president, the scoop on her 2016.

Photos from public domain pages except for Sarah & Lynn by Tracy Baim, Olivia by Andrea Bauer

Yamani Hernandez

When I first started engaging in the feminist activist community, it was very white. As the Latina, I was often asked to bring in other Latinas...cause ya know, they follow what I say! National organizations are not only very white, but very East Coast (NYC or DC). That is why the hiring of Yamani Hernandez as the new executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds is kick ass. There are so many reasons we need a WOC leading this network, especially as we try to repeal the Hyde Amendment. Can we dance a little that a major feminist and reproductive justice org is now being lead from Chicago?!

Sarah Karp

Over two years ago Karp published an investigation into a no-bid contract given to the former CPS superintendent's former employer. Those of us fighting for better public schools in Chicago read it and shook our heads. What will ever come of it? How about a guilty plea by Barbara Byrd-Bennett? Not shabby by someone who was practicing actual journalism?!

Carol Marin

Long time readers know that I've been a fan of Carol Marin for years. And she definitely falls into the category of "consistent ass kicker." This year we saw her be one of the leaders for the investigation into Laquan McDonald shooting. Marin tries to not only hold Mayor Emmanuel accountable for his decisions, as well as remind us voters of what is happening under his leadership. And that is something we need to remember as we head into an election year. Marin can hold him accountable via the media, but if we keep voting the way we do (or not voting), there's little she can do about that.

Lynn Mooney and Sarah Hollenbeck

The new owners of Women and Children First have earned a gold star for their first year on the job! A beautiful remodeling of the space gives us book worms new places to curl up with a book and more open space to spy our friends who are also hanging in the bookstore. If you know me, you know that this is my bookstore and Sarah & I are friendly. I've moderated conversations there in the past and will be doing my first book talk on January 27th.

Olivia Ortiz

In 2013, Ortiz filed a Title IX complaint against the University of Chicago over their mishandling of her reported sexual assault. She went on to found, Phoenix Survivors Alliance, to support other sexual assault survivors at UofC. In September the Chicago Reader published a multi-page, kick ass, feature on Ortiz and others' activism to change how U of C deals with and tries to prevent sexual assault. There were few places you could go in Chicago without seeing the crimson red cover with "DON'T BE A RAPIST" in large white letters.

Photos from social media or public domain pages

Amalia Pallares

Pallares is director of the UIC Latin American and Latino studies program. Up until this past year, I have mainly admired her work from afar. I like to tell people that UIC is chock full of activist-academics and Pallares is no exception. From the publication of her latest book, Family Activism  Immigrant Struggles and the Politics of Noncitizenship, to her leadership to gain undocumented students access to financial aid, she took 2015 by storm. Listen to her comment on Ecuador's attempt to implement an inheritance tax.

Toni Preckwinkle

The President of Cook County started out 2015 in what many thought was weak by not running against Mayor Emanuel (I seriously overheard someone the other day saying she wimped out) to ending with fierceness by launching her former chief of staff, Kim Foxx, to challenge beleaguered Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez. She also stood with Cook County Commissioner Chuy Garcia to call for Alvarez and McCarthy to resign.

Sylvia Puente 

As director of the Latino Policy Forum, Puente has been busy in 2015. She started off the year commenting and analyzing how the Rahm vs. Chuy race would not only end up, but impact Chicago's Latino communities. Puente chimed in when the lone Latino was booted from the Chicago Public School board. Given that 2016 is another election year, she'll be plenty busy discussing if and how Chicago and Illinois' Latino communities find their way to the polls.

Benita Ulisano

You know how some health centers and clinics that provide abortion services often get protesters? Anti-women folks who want to scare the women seeking services into obtaining health care? The mighty who help those women as they approach and enter the clinics are clinic escorts. But how is a scared woman to know which of those standing outside a clinic is her friend and not a foe? Vests. And in 2013 long-time clinic escort Benita Ulisano started, The Clinic Vest Project, an organization that would help clinics around the country obtain vests for their volunteer escorts. "The mission of the Clinic Vest Project is to provide FREE clinic escort vests to groups that service facilities that support the full range of reproductive health options including safe and legal abortion." This year I've proudly watched as Ulisano was interviewed around the interwebs and receiving the accolades this long time reproductive justice warrior deserves.  ​

Patti Vasquez

I had heard the name floating around over the past year or two, but upon further inspection, Vasquez is clearly kicking some ass. First, she's been vocal as a mom of a child with autism. Second, she inked a deal with ABC to create show based on her life:
The Better Half, inspired by Vasquez’s family, centers on a Mexican-American working mother who is a well-intentioned and sometimes-misguided citizen disrupter. She tackles the small and large injustices around her for the greater good, even though many times no one asks her to. Her well-meaning actions create consequences that affect her career, community and home life in the crowded Chicago brownstone she shares with her parents, husband and children.
If ABC isn't scared to be real outside of reality TV, Chicago's activist mom community will give Vasquez plenty to portray.

*~*~*~*

15 fabulous Chicago ladies is not enough to paint the picture of the amazing and transformative work being done in this city and region. Please share your pick for a Chicago woman who owned 2015 in the comments and do include links to her organizations so we can all find some new places to support in 2016.

17 November 2015

Texas women are attempting to self-abort

Hundreds of thousands of Texas women may have attempted to self-induce abortions, according to a “first of its kind” study released Tuesday by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP).  [link]

When I heard this stat today I wanted to puke.

It is actually quite difficult for me to form an intelligent rant about this. I am just. Ugh. I have been active in the reproductive justice movement for a long time and this is as bad as I feel it has gotten. I have heard stories of women resorting to self-induced abortions before. Heard rumbles of the return of back-alley abortions. Known of women who have given birth despite not wanting to add another baby to their family. But to have a study that quantifies how much we are failing women in this country? I'm sickened.

This is exactly the type of work that one Missouri state senator wants to stop by censoring a woman's dissertation.
In a letter to University of Missouri officials, state Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) argues that Lindsay Ruhr, a graduate student in the School of Social Work, is illegally using public funds to conduct her dissertation research on the state's law that requires a 72-hour waiting period before a woman receives an abortion. Ruhr is using Planned Parenthood data to analyze the effects of the law on women's decision making. In Missouri it is illegal for public employees and facilities to use state money towards "encouraging or counseling" a person to have an abortion not necessary to save her life.
In Texas, Latinas who live near the border appear to be more likely to be attempting to self-induce an abortion. This is quite disconcerting. It was also quite predicted by many reproductive justice activists. Bitch Media discusses the many obstacles that undocumented Latinas face at the border when attempting to seek any healthcare services, much less abortion services. Women who do not have access or limited access to healthcare will still attempt to not carry a pregnancy to term if she does not want to become a mother (again).

So while I am heartbroken over the results of the study, I am grateful that we now have data on the hardships that anti-abortion laws are doing to the people of the USA. Research on, feministas!




I am trying to raise $1,000 for Bitch Media by December 31st. Please consider supporting this almost-20-year-old independent feminist media organization by:
  1. Simply donating $10 or $100.Whatever you can give will help!
  2. Subscribe! Right now subscriptions are 20% off AND you get a geeky pencil set.
  3. Gift a subscription! Perfect for your favorite feminist pop culture junkie!
  4. Join me in being a sustaining member of Bitch Media by giving a small amount every month.

16 November 2015

A Love Letter to Jane Villanueva

Dear Jane,

I know life doesn't seem to be going your way all the time, but I want you to know you are the best. While most viewers may be fixated on your agonizing decision between Michael and Rafael, I am all in for your story.


I envy your relationship with your mom and grandma. My mom has been gone for 12 years, her mom 19 years. I miss them. I don't kid myself to think we had that type of relationship you have with yours. But I love how it seems like it not you against the world, but the Villanueva mujeres against the world!

But I am really loving how you are dealing with the push and pull of being a mom and grad student so well. Your breaking down at the baby play group as you were deciding on going back to school was so real. Then tonight's talk with Rafael about it being selfish to stop pumping even after Mateo has weened from breast feeding. Then your WOOHOO about ending pumping. I was truly teary-eyed. THEN when you were totally honest with Petra about the on the job training moms endure. Well, I'm surprised I wasn't bawling on my couch. I bet someone somewhere was.

Your show is built around drug and arms dealers, but at the heart is the story of young woman just trying to figure out how to reach her dreams. I'm rooting for ya. We all are.

Your Chicago BFF,
Veronica

PS: #TeamJane


I am trying to raise $1,000 for Bitch Media by December 31st. Please consider supporting this almost-20-year-old independent feminist media organization by:
  1. Simply donating $10 or $100.Whatever you can give will help!
  2. Subscribe! Right now subscriptions are 20% off AND you get a geeky pencil set.
  3. Gift a subscription! Perfect for your favorite feminist pop culture junkie!
  4. Join me in being a sustaining member of Bitch Media by giving a small amount every month.

11 November 2015

Housekeeper’s Global Week of Action #fairhousekeeping

Research shows that since 2002, there has been an increase in the number of hotels in Long Beach, CA from 37 to 44 while its workforce has decreased from 2,575 to 2,370, drastically increasing hotel workloads. 

UNITE HERE Local 1 surveyed 18 out of the approximately 29 members of the Hotels Monaco’s housekeeping department in June and July 2015, including 14 women who identified as housekeepers. All workers who responded reported experiencing pain at work (responding affirmatively to the question “do you ever experience pain at work?”) 78% of respondents reported taking pain relievers, citing examples such as Tylenol or Advil. 72% reported having woken up during the night in pain. [link] Actions have taken place at Hotel Monaco in the past and earlier today there was more action.

In an effort to address these issues, community and clergy will accompany Long Beach hotel workers in a program and candlelight march celebrating Housekeeper’s Global Week of Action in which hotel housekeepers across the U.S. and Canada, will be holding protests in 13 cities across North America spotlighting safety concerns and poor wages faced by many women who clean hotel rooms. This action is being held in conjunction with protests organized by housekeepers in more than 30 nations worldwide this week in a call for fairer treatment of hotel housekeepers across the global hotel industry.
If you are in the Long Beach area, please join in on Thursday, November 12th – 5:00 PM at the Long Beach Renaissance Hotel Promenade -- 111 East Ocean Blvd., Long Beach.

To learn more about actions happening this week, follow #fairhousekeeping on Twitter.

Citations from A New Economy for All

07 October 2015

#OneConversation - Latino HIV Awareness Campaign

web banner: We can stop HIV One Conversation At A Time.  Campaign Image of a middle aged Latina and a speech bubble with a message: We need to talk openly about HIV.

You may notice an ad on the sidebar that says "We Can Stop HIV". That is because I have been asked to join the CDC's HIV Awareness campaign. One Conversation at a Time, a CDC campaign, is a call to action for our community to talk about HIV and AIDS, increase HIV and AIDS awareness, and decrease HIV-associated stigma and shame. Now you might ask why we need a special emphasis in the Latino community. The fact is that "[m]ore than 1.1 million people are living with HIV in the United States and about 50,000 people become infected each year. As Hispanics/Latinos, we account for 21% of these new HIV infections."Compare this to the fact that Latinos make up 17% of the population in the United States. This is unacceptable.

Stay tuned throughout the campaign as I share more information about HIV and its impact in the Latino community.

Join LATISM’s Twitter chat on Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 9:00 ET.
Use either use the #OneConversation or #UnaConversación hashtag.


Disclaimer: I am being compensated for participating in this campaign. This is a sponsored post.

15 September 2014

Summer of Feminista - Latina Feminist Friendships [video]

Well we've turned on the heat at home, pumpkin spice products have hit the market and we have to wear socks again...this only means one thing, summer is over.

But before we put away the lawn lights (ahem...), let's take some time to view this amazing video that Kat Lazo, Patricia Valoy, Dior Vargas and Raquel Reichard took the time to make in response to my prompt to talk about how your girlfriends fit into your feminism.




Thank you mujeres for this video. It was moving, funny and sums up the summer perfectly. I'm not even going to attempt a summary post.

Thank you to everyone who participated this summer:
Linda Garcia Merchant
Vicky Barrios
Brenda Hernandez
Amy Richard
Lisa Quinones-Fontanez
Lilian Coral
April Lee
Elisa Batista
Sandra Ramos O’Briant
Estela Delgado


Summer of Feminista 2014 is a project of Viva la Feminista where Latinas are discussing girlfriends.  Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission. Read how you can join Summer of Feminista.

16 August 2014

Summer of Feminista: Four Friends


Today Summer of Feminista is proud to welcome back, Linda Garcia Merchant. Linda Garcia Merchant, an award-winning filmmaker and Independent scholar, is technical director of the Chicana Por Mi Raza Project, a community partner for the Somos Latinas Oral History Project and the Chicana Chicago/MABPW Collection Project, a member of the LGBT Giving Council of the Chicago Foundation for Women and a board member of the Chicago Area Women's History Council. Watch the trailer for Linda's latest production 'Yo Soy Eva' , being released this fall.

Every year for the past thirty years I get together for a weekend with three women I have been friends with since college. We make it a point each year to get together at one of our homes, catch up and hang out. I first wrote about this weekend fifteen years ago for my own blog site, twotightshoes. At that point it had been fifteen years of getting together; our children were small or teens and not all of us were divorced or orphaned.

At fifteen years there was enough measure of time, change and difference that had occurred that made writing about this important. Important not just to me, but to newer friends I would tell about our weekends.

I never thought it was a big deal to have this weekend, but when I would tell people we did this, they found it fascinating that we had kept doing it. Our careers and relationships had managed to move us to different parts of the state or the country. Our lives should have drifted apart but we managed to stay in touch, to stay together, to show up every year. Why is that?

It is because we love each other like sisters. It is because we have always accepted one other at face value. We have never been judgmental about our shared experiences, personal events or choices. We trust each other; love and respect our friendships. It is hard to find a single person this genuinely motivated to care and give so it is incredible to have found three other women that think this way.
Like sisters, we call each other for the holidays, on (or around) birthdays or in preparation for our annual get together. We don’t spend time as a group, except for that one specific weekend each year. When we do get together, it is as though we haven’t missed a step in each other’s lives.

We didn’t start out agreeing to do this. In fact, every year it is me grousing about my awful schedule and how problematic this next year would be. The more I would complain the less I was heard. Every year at some point in our conference call, my grumblings would become ‘brown noise’, I would give in and get with the plan.

At first, it was at the insistence of one woman, Michele that we make it a point to check in with her in Peoria at least once a year. We all live in different cities; I’m in Chicago, Glenda is in Davenport, Michele is in Peoria and then there’s Trish who we all believe lives on the path of one of the four winds.

Trish has always lived her life on the wind. Even in college Trish followed her own path, separate and apart from the teenage fold. My favorite Trish memory from college was the first time I walked into her dorm room, decorated in what I can only describe as a Stepfordian White French Provincial motif. Missing were the bunkbeds, bolsters and Prince posters. In their place, Trish had knick knacks, fresh flowers and a white wrought iron table and chairs for two with matching tapered candles. I imagined her studying at that table, sipping tea. Trish was and is from another time and I believe, just enjoys our company when she lands in our weekend space. Trish doesn’t always make the weekends, but when she is there, the circle is complete.

Our relationship over the last thirty years has changed as our lives changed. Where once we would get together for weddings and showers, now we gather for the funerals of parents and contemporaries.

In the late seventies early eighties (when we were all young, childless and single) the conversations were exclusively about sex, shoes, boys, shopping for shoes, romance, dating, more sex, bad boys and bad dates. At some point on a Saturday night, we were headed to the nightclubs be it small town or big city. One of us was always lagging (usually Glenda), not wanting to go—the other three of us dragging her along.

The late eighties and early nineties saw our conversations switching to health plans, mortgage interest rates, bad boys, shopping for shoes and furniture, cooking at home, and renting movies with Denzel Washington in them. We seldom went to bars, preferring the cost ratio (to degrees of sobriety) of the home-based mixed drink. At one point we were all married so our spouses were included in some of our weekends.

The end of the nineties and the turn of the century came and went and our conversations turned to health plans, flossing, osteoporosis, boys pretending to be men, challenging partnerships that involved children and ailing parents. Our social forays included at least one conversation reintroducing Glenda and I to the world of popular black culture that always ended with a trip to the local record store. Friday nights were spent doing home mani/pedis and elaborate dinner preparations, then switching between the food network and HGTV. Three of us were divorced so Saturday nights, we still went out.

In 2014, we did something a little different and shared our weekend with one of our children, Michelle’s daughter, Taryn Dior, an adult now, working and living on her own in St. Louis. These days there are quiet moments more than anything. All four of us have been married and divorced. We all have children, one a grandchild, one a mother of three, one with a masters degree, one a teenager and two in college.

We still catch up with each other’s lives, the lives of our children and share photos and stories of their lives. Each year one of us in the middle of some great trauma, usually elder or child care issues. All of us have cared for elder parents, nursing them through a variety of debilitating and ultimately, terminal illnesses. Whatever the situation, we are always there to listen and love and frequently hug the one of us struggling to answer the impossible questions that come with death.

Over the years, we will sit around the kitchen table, the patio table or the fancy restaurant table, catching up on the journals of each other’s lives. We learn things about our own childhoods, our siblings, our mothers and fathers. We give each other advice about houses, spouses, parents and God. God is always there in the middle of us—filling our mouths with the right words and sentiments that each of us needs to hear at the moment that we need to hear it.

To keep up with the people that ‘knew you when’ helps you to know the ‘you’ that you have become. It is sort of like not seeing the forest for the trees and being friends with three vigilant forest rangers. I like getting together with these women because being around them reminds me of what I have become, where I have been, and where I am going. As four friends, we are the most honest and vocal guides to each other’s lives steering each other back to our own truths.

If in a year I have altered my course, compromised my direction or lost site entirely of some personal focus, I will know this. I will know five minutes after I've walked in the door of wherever we are meeting. I will know when one of them hugs me and I don’t hug them back as hard as I should. I will know this because I will look long and hard into a pair of eyes that has seen me at my personal best and worst and that I will not be able to deceive. Friends that will check that ‘faux’ hug with some snappy retort squishing that pretentious moment, then hugging me harder until I hug back just as hard. There are no secrets from old friends; no hidden agendas or realities those old friends miss.

So there is the beauty of having three close friends for over thirty years who make it a point to glue themselves together, once a year, for at least 48 fun and loving hours. I am hoping that by reading this, you will pick up the phone and reconnect with those that you knew and loved 5, 25 or 50 years ago. Those who care about, and know, the real you. The ‘you’ that existed before the world compromised you. The friends that knew you when you still cared about tolerance and understanding.

If you’ve never gathered with your oldest friends, do it. Make it a point to connect with those people that know you best. This year in St. Louis we kept it simple. We caught the James Brown movie, looked at apartments for Taryn, visited the Arch, put up with my ranting about the ‘Westward Ho’ exhibit at the Gateway Arch, enjoyed a decent meal and some R&B at the Rustic Goat then spent half the night talking, catching up and watching the Game Show Network. Every minute of this last weekend has filled my soul and will hold me together for the next 363 days until we meet again.



Summer of Feminista 2014 is a project of Viva la Feminista where Latinas are discussing girlfriends.  Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission. Read how you can join Summer of Feminista.

07 August 2014

Summer of Feminista: A BFF for All Seasons

Today Summer of Feminista welcomes Vicky Barrios of Kindness and Kisses. You can also find her on Instagram where you can see she's passionate about soccer!

When it comes to feminism, I don't try to do feminism in any prescribed way. I do attempt to embody feminism, specifically womanism.  All my very best friends are amazing women of color and I don't think that's an accident. Still, I believe in respecting the abilities and talents of all women as well as acknowledging their contributions to the community and to our world. That's exactly how my girlfriends fit into my life. We may not be outright feminists but we are women who not only believe in each other, but actively offer each other our individual strengths as support and for actionable inspiration. Whether by karma, divine order, or chance, I have been abundantly blessed with the love, generosity, and depth of authentic sisterhood friendships.  These are real deal have-your-back best friends forever. My life is better because of these BFFs that are powerful mirrors of who I was, who I am, and who I can be.

Fortunately, I am rich with good friends, and a handful are my BFFs. For all parts of my life, I have a BFF that I can count on. I am the single Latina, woman of color, PhD student and clinician that is in her mid 30's and happily single and dating. The single girl in NYC part of my life is best shared with my other single girlees. My long time best friends with husbands or wives and babies just won't be able to pick up and go as we used to, and as it is possible for me to still do. I love my BFF, Sandra for trying though, even with two little ones. My BFFS who don't have children and with whom I get together for cocktails and to talk sex among other things, like Sujeiry and Helen, are also the ones I can bother with random calls about dating mishaps and likely can drop by their home because face-time in person is necessary every now and then.  

In my academic circle of sisters, my BFFs, Isabelle and Tia, keep me accountable and moving on my research and other projects. They also help me celebrate each success with a little wine and good eats. Our conversations can be very intellectual, political, and almost always inherently feminist. We can also be silly, care-free, and irreverent. They have also seen me at my worst because attempting to complete a PhD program will do that. Because so much of my life is the work of the mind, it is a joy to have BFFs who can be there with me as we examine life's problems, seek solutions, and attempt to make a dent in the psychological community as a service to what we can offer the world. 

My world though is bigger than just academia and my love life. For this reason, there is nothing like the safety and security of a friendship that has been tested and survived seemingly improbable circumstances through a span of many years. My long-time BFF, Yana Alvarez (Financial Planning Goddess) is that person for me. We met at an event for high school students close to twenty year ago. Then we would meet again in college. Our time in college would cement our friendship.  She's "my person." At the core of our long-time friendship is the love and respect of allowing each other to be who we are and to commit to being able to face anything that could possibly come between us.
I am blessed many times over because not only do I have MY PERSON, but I have a troop of women who are also my BFFs. Is a BFF essential to have for today's Latina feminist? No, but a good girlfriend can make the journey that much better. For that reason, cultivating these friendships is a way to embody feminism. I have discovered that having women like my BFFs encourages me to reach for my personal goals, examine and find solutions for obstacles and to simply enjoy the spirit and power of the feminine.


Summer of Feminista 2014 is a project of Viva la Feminista where Latinas are discussing girlfriends.  Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission. Read how you can join Summer of Feminista.

04 August 2014

Summer of Feminista: Feminism and Friendship


Today Summer of Feminista welcomes, Brenda Hernandez. Brenda is a law school diversity professional. She is the Outreach Coordinator for Hollaback! Boston. She is also a Co-Director for The Boston Doula Project. You can read all about her feminism, pop culture musings, and her upcoming Latino Jewish feminist wedding at BoricuaFeminist.com.

I’ve always maintained small tight knit friend circles. I have my group from childhood, my college friends, and my law school friends. Usually these groups max out at about four people. These women have been my rocks. They’ve seen me through the great and most definitely the not so great. I have always valued strong female friendship and that resulted in an immediate connection to feminism. I recognized the importance of a sisterhood and to fight for the rights of those closest to me.

Some of my girls identify as feminists, but not all. This has never been a requirement of my friendship (laughing on the other hand is non-negotiable). In fact, until recently I never needed my feminist community to also be my friends. A common goal was enough to bring us together and I was fine with that. I would attend events alone or show up to volunteer, maybe chit chat a bit, and then go home.

That changed when I moved to Boston two years ago. Being new to Boston and a month from my 30th birthday I wasn’t sure how I was going to meet people. I decided that a good start would be attending feminist and women focused events. It was months before I could make this happen as I was consumed by my new job responsibilities and adjusting to cohabitation. When I finally attended my first event, I met someone who would later become one of my closest friends in Boston. Naturally we bonded over Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

And it didn’t stop there. As I immersed myself in the small but mighty Boston feminist community, I also began to build a girl gang like never before. This group of women is fearless. Our conversations slowly turned from the issues at hand to how we fit into the larger picture together. It became about more than just the cause but about us. The personal is political, after all. And what could be more important than helping your friends navigate through the patriarchy together. My friend circle is now much larger than it has ever been and sharing feminism makes it as tight knit as ever. And of course, lots of laughs.

Summer of Feminista 2014 is a project of Viva la Feminista where Latinas are discussing girlfriends.  Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission. Read how you can join Summer of Feminista.

03 August 2014

5th Annual Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice


Monday, August 4 to Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice is an initiative that elevates Latina leadership, power and activism to transform the cultural narrative via a collective call to action on critical reproductive justice issues facing our community.

Despite what the NYTimes thinks, reproductive justice is not a new term, rather one that comes from women of color organizing beyond the "pro-choice" box to ensure our work is not about one procedure, one action, but rather a holistic view of women's lives and how we make decisions about when, how, and why we become mothers or not.

To mark this week you can:
  • Organize an in-district visit with your elected officials
  • Host a rally, street action, community meeting or cafecito
  • Write a blog (VLF is open for guest posts!)
  • Mobilize using social media using the hashtags: #WOA14 and #RJrevolution
  • Contact Angy@latinainstitute.org to learn more ways to get involved and share what you are doing

25 July 2014

Summer of Feminista: One Good Friend


Today Summer of Feminista welcomes Lisa Quinones-Fontanez. She is an award winner blogger. Her blog, Atypical Familia, is a personal blog and family lifestyle site with a focus on autism parenting and work/life balance. Her writing has been featured on several websites including Huffington Post Parents, Yahoo Shine and KatieCouric.com. Lisa is also a contributing writer at Parents.com and Babble.com.

“All you need is one good friend,” my mother used to say. But as a teenager, I liked being surrounded by friends. Going out in groups to the movies, the mall or just hanging out in the park looking at boys - the more friends I had around me, the safer and less lonely I felt. It was all about quantity, quality was an afterthought.

My mother also encouraged independence. If I had to go the mall or library for something, my first instinct was to phone a friend to come with me. “Go by yourself and do what you have to do. You don’t always have to go with a friend.” But I liked having the company.

As I got older, my circle of friends narrowed. We all went our own way – off to school, pursued careers, got married, had children. I learned to do things on my own. And I appreciated one-on-one dinner conversations with a good friend.

After my son was diagnosed with autism, my circle of friends shrunk some more. Having a kid with any kind of disability naturally narrows the people you depend on. Our lives revolved around therapists, doctor appointments and evaluations. And I welcomed any kind of time alone.

Four summers ago, I was pregnant. During my 16th week OB-GYN visit I learned that I suffered a missed miscarriage. And I needed to have surgery the following day. My husband was unable to accompany me. I told my mother and my best friend that I was fine going alone.

When I showed up at the hospital, my mother was waiting for me. She held my hand and stayed with me for as long as she could. The following week, I had to be admitted into the hospital my best friend, Marlo, showed up. We had known each since high school. We vacationed together in South Beach and Jamaica; we even lived together at one point. But we weren’t mushy friends – exchanging cards declaring our love or importance of our friendship. We had seen each other through first loves, breakups, marriages, baby showers and the birth of our children. It’s easy to be friends with someone during those times. Those are the times you want the company.

Losing a child, all I wanted was to be left alone. But Marlo remained with me throughout the day – bringing me ice, reading through celebrity gossip magazines, helping me to the ladies room, making sure my IV wires didn’t get tangled.

Marlo let me cry, something I had a hard time doing in front of everyone else and something I didn’t want to do alone. I told her through out the day that she didn’t have to stay with me, that I would be okay if she left. Marlo knew – without personally knowing – what I was feeling. Marlo didn’t feel compelled to console me or tell me that it will be okay. She didn’t offer cliché sentiments. She just let me be.

There are times in our lives when we want company and when we need it. A good friend will know the difference.


Summer of Feminista 2014 is a project of Viva la Feminista where Latinas are discussing girlfriends.  Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission. Read how you can join Summer of Feminista.

22 July 2014

Summer of Feminista: When amigas become familia


Today Summer of Feminista welcomes Lilian Coral, a novice at blogging, who wants to more actively dialogue with colleagues on specific issues around technology and improving the American social safety net. She comes to this work as a Colombian immigrant, raised and educated in the United States and deeply committed to social justice issues.

It’s only fitting that I write about girlfriends a day after the death of the mother of one of my oldest girlfriends.

In my home, my parents always encouraged my sister and I to prioritize family over friends. It was always about keeping everything in the family. Don’t tell your friends anything about what goes on in our home; don’t over share your dreams and desires... porque la envidia mata. It never seemed like a judgment on my girlfriends, as much as it was the Latin in us, llenos de agueros, that said that family is always more important than friends, and no one can have your best interests in mind.

But growing up in the U.S., where BFFs are so critical to growing up, I always felt a tension between the cultures, because I was surrounded by the sense that friends really can become like sisters, often as close to, if not closer than. And, in my journey I’ve ended up being surrounded by a great number of girlfriends; more than I can count on my two hands. They are women I’ve grown up with, women I’ve worked with, and those that others have said “you’ve got to be her friend.” We may drift in and out of each other’s lives for periods of time, but it always feels good to get back to them, like no time has passed.

Friendship and sisterhood has been a great source of strength, encouragement and validation. It has been girlfriends that have helped me to shape the path of what’s possible. As an immigrant child, and the daughter of a single mother, my family encouraged and supported my professional ambitions, but it was my girlfriends who helped me chart and strategize the pathway. My Mother has wished nothing but the best for me in my personal relationships, but it’s been from girlfriends, and their relationships, that I’ve learned what successful marriage looks like, or not, which compromises are needed to sustain a relationship, how to co-parent, the importance of Daddy in building up his daughter’s self-esteem as a jewel not to be messed with, etc. The strength of these women has emboldened and shaped my own strength and resolve as a feminist that views feminism broadly to be, the legitimate opportunity to choose to live the life I desire, without impediment because of my gender.

Thinking about feminism and girlfriends, in this very (sur)real moment in life, the death of a mother, and my struggle to figure out what kind of a girlfriend I need to be to support my friend, brings me to notion of strength in vulnerability. It often feels like the most authentic expression of the feminist ideal requires strength, constant strength and struggle. Some of us feminists often fight the perception of frailty and weakness when we fight for our feminist ideals, however we define them. Yet, as I think about one of my closest friends, a very strong woman, and the pain that she must be feeling in losing her mother, or the moments of heart ache that other strong girlfriends, myself included, have gone through, I think that it is in these moments of frailty, when we try to provide strength to each other, that we become the strongest. So, perhaps the beauty of girlfriends and feminism to me is that is as much about strength as it is about vulnerability. The strength required to move towards our dreams, or even just a more peaceful state, requires a vulnerable heart from where to pull that strength from; and for me this has been constantly modeled by the women I call girlfriends.

When we sit together and talk to, learn from, each other we discuss and re-discuss every aspect of our lives. In fact, we often have different girlfriends for different topics. Sex, work, men, husbands, children, health, and death are all a part of it. And even if we don’t define ourselves as feminists, or our ideas as feminist theories, we are my true depiction of Feminists, in that we all struggle together to ensure that we have a legitimate opportunity to choose to live the life we desire, for ourselves and for the children we are giving birth to, the women we are raising and the boys that will grow to love those women. The gatherings reflect the support and encouragement we need to keep going forward! Time and time again, when we talk about what’s missing in the women’s movement, I think we are ignoring the value and foundation that circles of girlfriends provide. These communities are the foundation upon which each of us can launch ourselves to dream big, hurt big, and live the life we desire. So let’s recognize the importance of these circles and encourage, facilitate and support communities of girlfriends getting together and moving forward along the journey. It’s not easy being a woman and life isn’t always fair, but it wouldn’t be as great as it is, if it wasn’t for the girlfriends we gather along the way.


Summer of Feminista 2014 is a project of Viva la Feminista where Latinas are discussing girlfriends.  Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission. Read how you can join Summer of Feminista.

03 July 2014

Summer of Feminista: There is no treasure like an honest friend


Elisa Batista co-publishes the MotherTalkers.com blog with her best friend Erika Bleszinski.

“Tiene el se?or presidente

Un jardín con una fuente,

Y un tesoro en oro y trigo:

Tengo más, tengo un amigo.”


-Jose Marti, “Versos Sencillos”


My favorite poem in Spanish is “Versos Sencillos”, written by Cuban “apostle” and poet Jose Martí. I remember my father playing a narration of all 46 verses of Versos Sencillos, which is about friendship, on a record. I will forever associate that record – and that poem -- with my childhood home in Miami: my father in his stained blue jumper suit fixing his mustang while us four kids hooted and hollered with our friends.

Hence, two of the most valuable lessons I gained from my parents were that anyone could enjoy poetry… and an honest friend.

I am 37 years old, and I am still best friends with women I have known since I was 5. They were at my First Communion, and around to celebrate birthdays, graduations, weddings and baby showers. Over the years, I’ve been blessed to make other best friends in addition to – not in lieu of – my childhood friends from Miami. And since they are all sisters to me, I’ve introduced them to each other, and they’ve formed relationships with each other!

Please note: I have more than one best friend, but the list is still quite small. I was never a popular girl with a ton of friends and liked by everyone in the classroom. I have always enjoyed deep friendships with two or three other women, and then they’d stay with me for life.

Having grown up in an immigrant household, in which our extended family lived abroad or in faraway states, our friends were our community, our lifeline…our family. I live in Berkeley, California now, on the opposite coast of my blood relatives, and this is especially true for me today. The people that have helped me raise my children, attended my children’s birthday parties and family-style get-togethers have been…my friends. And they’re not just “friends.” They are hermanos and tios and tias as that is the role that they have played.

It isn’t a blood relative that recently taught my seven-year-old daughter how to sew. It was Tia Amy. Two of four of my children’s godparents aren’t blood relatives. My daughter’s godparents are Tio Will and Tia Nancy. And for every single one of my children’s birthdays, without fail, they receive phone calls from my college best friend or Tia Erika.

We go on vacations together, we are madrinas and honorary tias to each other’s children, and every time we get together – no matter how long it’s been – we start from where we left off, as if no time has passed. We are friends with each others’ friends and blood relatives on Facebook. We are one familia.

For me, there is no greater treasure.

Summer of Feminista 2014 is a project of Viva la Feminista where Latinas are discussing girlfriends.  Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission. Read how you can join Summer of Feminista.

30 June 2014

Summer of Feminista: The Other Women

Sandra Ramos O’Briant is the author of The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood, winner of Best Historical Fiction and Best First Book at the ILBA, 2013. Visit her on Facebook and Blood Mother Blog.

The Other Women

I almost called this piece Girlfriends, Slutdom and Mom because they’re all of a piece, a patchwork perhaps, that once assembled became me. Boys were always easier for me. We liked being outside and played rough, whereas I was never sure how to engage girls in anything beyond dolls, which didn’t interest me. They also tended to stay in the kitchen with their moms.

Mom proudly announced that she’d been a tomboy, too, and followed her twin brother in his rough and tumble play. As she grew older, mom embraced the “sexy” Latina image. I think it gave a boost to her self-esteem, but it meant that her goal was to get a man which invited competition from other females. At her core she embraced a 40’s cinematic femme fatale role model and distrusted all women . . . possibly even me. A girlfriend who is of my mother’s vintage recently gave me advice on how to deal with my husband over some petty argument. “Have great sex and then do what you want anyway.” Manipulative, I said. She expressed no distaste with that word. “There’s a long line of women just waiting to steal him from you,” she said.

She reminded me so much of my mom that I only felt affection and pity for her generation. And wonder. Could she be right? I’ve seen that look–threatened, possessive, and defensive–on other women’s faces when they’ve watched their husband’s reaction to a beautiful woman standing in front of them. No, the beauty wasn’t me. My preferred role is observer, and I love women, need them even. Women are the leads in The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood, and sisterhood is explored in all its contexts: childhood friends, lovers, girlfriends who think nothing of cheating with your husband, a sinister mother-in-law, witchy ex-girlfriends, daughters, blood sisters, maidens, mothers and crones.

I’ve written previously of the bullying I experienced in elementary and middle-school (Bullied: Diversity, Differentiation, Distinction). That experience effectively isolated me and I stopped trying to make girlfriends. I had a brief respite in 9th grade when I lived with my father and stepmother in East Texas. A few girls in my neighborhood actually seemed to like me and we rode the bus to school together. No one was really dating then, but there was adolescent flirtation.

Back to New Mexico for high school and the pressure was on to date. Fortunately, I liked nerdy boys with a sense of humor. An assortment of males liked me; the girl’s locker room became hazardous when a boy sought after by one of the “popular” girls asked me to prom. Sometime in the 10th grade I was labeled a slut and I don’t think the slur came from a boy. It was the girls who shunned me.

The irony is that even though I’m now an outspoken feminist and embrace my inner slut, I remained a virgin all through high school. I refused to French kiss until I’d cleared it with the nun who taught an after-school religion class. “No it’s not a mortal sin,” she said. I’m forever grateful that she didn’t follow up that statement with what it could lead to. Perhaps she didn’t know, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway because I wouldn’t allow my boyfriend to touch my emergent breasts because of the pimples on my chest.

The slut-shaming worked. I wasn’t sure what I’d done wrong, but in order to remedy the situation I let down all the hems on my skirts, stopped dating, and stayed home from school as much as possible. The problem with that was 1) my mother’s fear–not that I might not graduate– but that I might not get in enough practice to find my future husband. “You’ve got sex appeal,” she said, which only terrified me more. The second part of that phrase was fine, nothing wrong with appeal. But the “sex” part was a problem made all the more complicated by 2) my extreme horniness.

What to do?

Fortunately, I got to go to college in the late 60’s. The Second Wave ruled! Birth control was readily available and there were savvy girls from all over the world at UNM. What was even better, they knew nothing about me. Sure, I was a little weird, but weird was in. I could blend. Somewhat.

I’d always had opinions, but had feared speaking out. My task was to overcome that sense of powerlessness, to embrace outcast status and make it work for me. Learning to do that was huge and the women’s movement helped me. Not only were there plenty of outspoken women from whom to learn, but I recognized the other me, before emergence, in women who came to consciousness-raising meetings. I could help them.

In grad school, my girlfriends and I had brunch every Sunday and read women’s sexual fantasies out of Nancy Friday’s My Secret Garden. Our laughter could be heard from down the street and we could have written our own book of sexual exploits, real and imagined. Peggy, one of the brunchers, met me recently in Venice Beach (A 70’s Redux).

Girlfriends are still not easy. More often that not, I let them pick me. When I started a business, almost all of my clients were male. Female friends were rare. If it hadn’t been for my friend Susan, I wouldn’t have had a baby shower for my first child or a partner in my new business.

More women entered the workforce. Now I had female employees and a new challenge balancing friendship and business: I didn’t always make the right decision. As often happens, friendships with women grew easier when I entered my 50’s. I’d relaxed, accepted that some women were not going to like me, and that it wouldn’t hold me back from expressing myself or reaching out to them. Older women have experience, both good and bad, and we all just want to have a good time. Here are some vintage thoughts from some of my girlfriends. They reflect my experience now. I’m so grateful to have arrived at this point, something I don’t think my mom ever achieved:

Susan: “My women friends have outlasted everything in this life: husbands, parents,
youth, and now . . . Even if we're not together, our laughter still rings in my ear.”

Bonnie: “No matter what I was slogging thru in terms of family stuff, work, life in general, girl friends sustained and supported me more than any other relationships.”

Melody: “Laughter; tears; support; brutal honesty; fun; sharing of wisdom; gossip; fashion help; basic survival; boy-friend hating; physical, mental & spiritual healing; having someone really listen to our story-telling without judgment; reminders that we are worth loving, even if we do not love ourselves at times!”

Summer of Feminista 2014 is a project of Viva la Feminista where Latinas are discussing girlfriends.  Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission. Read how you can join Summer of Feminista.

Disclaimer

This blog is my personal blog and is not reflective of my employer or what I do for them.
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