Term Paper: Chicanas and Sexuality

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Chicana Women: A Qualitative Examination of Sexuality and Self

The purpose of this project will be an examination of how culture affects women of Chicana descent and how one's cultural upbringing impacts sexuality and sense of self-worth. Chicana women face unique hardships when it comes to recognizing their sense of self-worth and their sexuality. For a long period in history, Chicana women grew up in a culture that viewed women as subservient to men (Aldama, 2003). This culture did not radically promote women's sexuality and contributions to society. Rather the patriarchal society many Chicana women were brought into suggested that women should be content to live a life dependent on others for happiness, self-worth and self-discovery. That is changing however in modern times, as more and more Chicana women are starting to recognize their own need for fulfillment. This is evident not only in recent literature examining Chicana culture but also in the words of Chicana women themselves, who are beginning to express the need to be active and appreciated members of society (Aldama, 2003).

Though I do not have any personal connection to this project I felt the subject interesting and worthy of investigation. The project will include a comprehensive literature review of previous studies that examine the subject, combined with information gathered from field research in the form of interviews.

There are numerous studies, which have attempted to review or comment on the culture of Chicana women. A majority of these suggest that Chicana women are currently in a state of flux; they are moving from a role where they were subordinated and repressed to one where they are more comfortable expressing their sexuality and self-worth (Aldama, 2003). The aim of this paper will be a comprehensive exploration of Chicana culture in an effort to determine what factors have impacted Chicana sexuality and to identify what aspects of Chicana culture currently dominate society today.

Background to Subject

Of late there have been numerous studies that suggest that a feminist movement of sorts is occurring within the Chicana culture. Specifically, girls are moving from a state of subordination to a place where they are more empowered, more likely to express themselves and more likely to use their sexuality as a means of identification and self-expression (Aldama, 2003).

Much of the information available regarding Chicana culture is evident in the form of fictional stories, which depict the Chicana girl or woman as someone who is constantly searching to identify her role, her purpose in society and her sense of self (Aldama, 2003). Other works of fiction address the Chicana as someone reflecting on her life experiences to learn from them.

In times of old much of the literature available with regard to Chicana women suggested that women were subordinate, however more recent works suggest that Chicana women are starting to take a more aggressive and assertive role in society, and they are starting to recognize their sexuality and right to be sexual, alive, and important human beings. The aim of this research will be to identify what patterns have contributed to the Chicana woman's failing sexuality and sense of self in the past, and what factors might contribute to her freedom in the future.

Research Questions

The researcher will attempt to answer several research questions as part of this research project. Specifically the researcher will attempt to identify the following: (1) what obstacles have prevented Chicana women from realizing their sexuality and self importance in the past, (2) how do Chicana women view themselves as members of society in modern culture, (3) what are the most critical factors contributing to a Chicana woman's sense of self and discovery?

To answer these questions the researcher will investigate the history of Chicana women through a comprehensive literature review that focuses in part on the role Chicana women have depicted in fictional literature up until the present. Fictional literature very often portrays metaphorically the real life subordinations or freedoms that people experience. The researcher also intends to interview one or two members of the Chicana culture in order to determine what their perceptions of their sexuality and sense of self are, and how these perceptions compare with information gathered from the literature review.

From the combined literature review and the information gathered from the field research, the researcher hopes to make grounded conclusions regarding the role sexuality and self-awareness have in Chicana women's life and lifestyle.

Limitations

This study is limited in that it will rely primarily on observational analysis and close interview with one or two subjects. A more realistic study would incorporate interviews of a much larger number of people, so that the Chicana culture could be more adequately represented. However due to time constraints and the small nature of this study, it is impossible to interview a large number of women. As such, the generalizations made about Chicana women that result from this study may not be indicative of the entire population as a whole. Future studies will be needed to confirm or disprove the ideas and theories that result as part of this research investigation.

Literature Review

The research studies that have been conducted in the past with regard to Chicana culture have focused on literary works of fiction as a means of identifying trends in Chicana culture. Thus part of this literature review will examine critical commentaries of Chicana works of fiction to analyze to what extent Chicana women and their sexuality is represented metaphorically in works of fiction. In addition the researcher intends to uncover factual information regarding Chicana culture that will be combined with information gathered from interviews of Chicana women.

Factors That Influence Sexuality and Self-Worth

There are a number of factors that impact one's sexuality and self-worth. This is extraordinarily evident in Chicana literature and among women growing up in the Chicana culture. Several researchers have investigated Chicana culture in the past, the majority of whom were interested in exploring women's sexuality and sense of self-worth. A majority of these researchers conclude that the role of Chicana women in society is changing (Aldama, 2003). Women in Chicana culture face numerous obstacles to realizing there sense of self-worth and sexuality, not the least of which is a strong society that is infused with stereotypical beliefs about the roles of men vs. women.

Aldama (2003) notes that there are several factors that influence a Chicana girls empowerment and ultimately their sexuality, including their "emancipation from restrictive gender roles" and independence afforded by membership into groups, whether gangs or civil service organizations. Either way, Chicana girls are looking according to some research for any outlet that will empower them without oppressing them, or viewing them in a violent or racist manner. This perhaps is largely due to a history of oppression and subordination (Aldama, 2003). Women are much more willing to be open and bold about their sexuality and role in society today, but this was very different in recent history as many women felt they lived under the domination of a patriarchal society (Aldama, 2003). This difference in attitude is evident when talking with young Chicana girls compared with older women who have lived more of their life subjected to the stereotypical beliefs that men are providers and women are the supporters or keepers of the home (Aldama, 2003).

As much of the fictional literature and true life accounts of Chicana life show, Chicana girls in the past traditionally took on the role of subservient wife to their husbands (Aldama, 2003). They were afforded little freedom, little sense of self, and as such little sense of sexuality as their desires were by and large inhibited. It is important to examine some of the fictional works written by Chicana women and other stories about Chicana women, because many of them fairly accurately and factually depict the struggles that many Chicana women have faced their entire lives. Though fictional, many of the women protagonists in literature are women that real life Chicana's can relate to on several levels (Aldama, 2003).

One element of sexuality and sense of self that is important to explore is Chicana communities, which tend to support or diffuse the predominant belief system that exists within a society. Chicana women have traditionally been heavily involved in their communities, though their involvement has not always been recognized as many grow up in a patriarchal society that values the contributions of men more than the contributions of women (Dicochea, 2004). In fact even though Chicana women have played an important role as members of society, in the past their contributions are hardly ever recognized or mentioned, which is why it may be difficult to find factual information regarding Chicana women's achievements historically.

The primary role women have held historically within the Chicana community is as caregiver and keeper of the home, as was discussed earlier in the literature review. However, times are changing, and more and more Chicana women are starting to realize the importance of searching out their sense of self, emancipating their sexuality, and enjoying… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Chicanas and Sexuality.  (2005, April 26).  Retrieved July 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/chicanas-sexuality/5516410

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