Constructs of “Fame” for Latinas in the Media

Carolyn Luby, Jose Figueroa, Hailey Rosa: 

Our project will be addressing and exploring the constructs of “fame” for Latinas in the media. We will be researching what Latinas made headlines/ gained widespread recognition and which ones did not, and why. We will be comparing and contrasting Latinas who are regarded as famous in the media and pop culture and which ones have made achievements but did not achieve that same construct of “fame” in today’s culture. From there, we will be looking into what this tells us about the values and beliefs of our society, and more specifically what values are most “fame worthy” in Latinas though our societies eyes. We will then delve into the consequences that these values and beliefs can have on real life Latinas. We will also be exploring the structures of education and history to analyze why some women have been kept virtually invisible while others are visible- even if just barely. We will be teaming up with the Women’s Center and PRLACC (Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center) to compile a list of these “haves and have nots” as pop culture constructs them. We will be not only analyzing the erasure of some Latinas and the inclusion of others, but we will be raising awareness on those who have been erased by ending our presentation with a consciousness raising effort stating these women’s accomplishments, and what they should be famous for. It’s time to shine some light on the unsung Latina heroes that pop culture fails to adequately highlight!

As a hands on approach to this education based activism methodology, we plan on setting a table up outside the union and interviewing people on who they know. For example, one name would be Jennifer Lopez and a responder may answer, yes they know who she is, she is a singer. Then there would be a less pop culturally recognized Latina, such as lets say Frida Kahlo, who we would ask if the respondent knew and if not, we would still ask them to take a guess. After checking name recognition, we will then show respondents pictures of these women to see what results that brings forward. We hope that the results of this quiz will tell us what values are associated most with successful Latinas in today’s society. We would then send the respondent away with the correct answers to take with them to make sure we are truly educating people with our activism. As in the example again, they would have the answer that Frida Kahlo is a Mexican Painter so that they come away from our with some tangible knowledge. We will then enrich our analysis of these questionnaires by interviewing various different professors on why they feel people know or do not know certain Latinas.

Editorial 

This class has taught us that Latinas are viewed only as sexual objects, unable to be educated or differ from the typical Latina image. Women such as Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, and Sofia Vergara all strengthen the argument that Latinas are all feisty, sexual creatures with no other form of identity. As students studying women’s studies, we know that this is a construct created by both racial and gendered oppression. Latinas come in all shapes, are able to portray sassiness or concern and can be just as educated as any white male in this country. We have studied many women who have fought against their oppression and who have, unfortunately, gone on to be ignored in the larger picture of history. This is an outrage, and shows that women continue to be oppressed. It is an issue that in some way, shape or form effects everyone and the point of our project was to give people a new way of looking at oppression faced by women and Latinas.

Through our project, we set a goal to educate the University of Connecticut community, not on historical women, but on the fact that there is so little awareness on women who have made great contributions to the worlds of medicine, education and law compared to women who have made careers through entertainment. Our goal was to get participants into questioning why they did not know the names of such historical women and how they value fame. Through our work, we also have realized that the stereotypes put in place for Latinas have created a cycle that perpetuates stereotypes and oppression. More and more Latina women are being celebrated for their bodies and ability to shake their hips but less are being celebrated for helping our communities. The purpose of our project was to get people thinking about the country’s values and how they, as an individual, can become an agent of change.

In no way are we saying that the work of Latin women in pop culture is not a great representation for Latinas, but it is currently the only representation that is exploited through media. Media is the way that many Americans get their information and many Americans only view Latinas as sexualized women. Through our project, we wish to bring awareness and hope participants are able to question the education system and how it ignores women’s herstory. We hope our work can one day cause schools to include the contributions of women such as Dolores Huerta, Antonia Pantoja, and Nydia Velazquez in their curriculum. We strove to bring awareness to how media portrays images based off of what will sell and not for its contributions, and how it causes the oppression for women on multiple levels. It is our hope that our efforts can change at least one persons views on Latinas and media, and influence a more inclusive way of life.

Works Cited

Aponte-Aviles, Aidali. “Constructions of “Fame” for Latinas.” Personal Interview. 29 Nov. 2012

Hannon, Fany. “Latina Stereotypes.” Personal interview. 27 Nov. 2012.

Harding, Sandra.  “Introduction: Is there a Feminist Method?” Feminism and Methodology. Ed. Sandra Harding. Bloomington: Indiana Press, 1987. 1-14.

Lopez, Adriana. “In Praise of Difficult Chicas: Feminism and Femininity.” Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism. By Daisy Hernández and Bushra Rehman. New York: Seal, 2002. N. pag. Print.

Mcintosh, Peggy. “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies.” Feminist Frontiers. By Verta A. Taylor, Leila J. Rupp, and Nancy Whittier. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. N. pag. Print.

Moraga, Cherríe.  “Preface, 1981.” This Bridge Called my Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. Eds. Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa.  Berkeley: Third Women  Press, 2002 [1981]. xliv-li.

Rich, Motoko. “For Young Latino Readers, an Image Is Missing.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 05 Dec. 2012. Web. 11 Dec. 2012.

Rios, Diana. “Constructions of “Fame” for Latinas.” Personal interview. 04 Dec. 2012.

Van Isschot, Luis. “Constructions of “Fame” for Latinas.” Personal interview. 04 Dec. 2012.

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