:: By Gaby Ortiz Flores ::

Do these heels make me look weak?

I’d like to thank all the folks who responded to my last blog post In Search of Latina Superheroes.  The links and suggestions that came my way were great and at the same time they reaffirmed the idea that we Latinas are really in need of our own superheroes.

In that vein, the other Supermujeres writers and I had the brilliant idea of having a Latina superhero comic art contest. Of course, part of the Supermujeres piece, that we are currently developing, will necessitate the creation of Latina superheroes but we don’t believe we should be the only ones having all of the fun creating new icons of female power.  We’re still developing the details for the competition so keep a lookout for an announcement about it sometime in the not too distant future.

Speaking of comics, last week we posted an article on FB  about Nerds and Male Privilege, which explored the reasons that many women are repelled by comic culture.  The main reason being (at least according to the article) that since comic culture is dominated by a predominantly white male crowd, women featured in comics and games are more often than not hypersexualized and exoticized.

My fellow Latinas (and any of you other women of color), does any of that sound familiar to you?
There may not be a huge Latina presence in the comic world but mainstream culture loves to hypersexualized and exoticized us—you know when we aren’t being villainized for crossing borders, stealing jobs, not speaking English, and allegedly having lots of anchor babies.

This is not dismissive of the fact that women in general are objectified by society.  Though when every other other Latina you see in the media is either a straight up sex kitten (think Gloria in Modern Family) or a maid (recall Arnold Schwarzenegger’s maid), it does make you wonder if maybe us Latinas are just too fiery and lusty for our own good.

I mean don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of my heritage and I consider myself a highly sexual person as I think many women do.  However, the question that is always, at least for me, so difficult to resolve both in my real life and in this project is: given society’s stereotypes of Latinas, how can we be and (in the case of this project) create strong and empowered women who are also sexy but not hypersexualized? Or should we just leave sexuality completely out of the picture?

Maybe the better question is how can we be strong and empowered women that also embody what it means to be women?  Except this question is also flawed since it is really asking how can we be powerful, strong women within the patriarchal environment in which we are immersed?  At the end of the day we are still playing by the rules of the culture that perpetuates these problematic gender roles and stereotypes, right?

Even if we created a strong and empowered defeminized Latina character, for example,  would she not in some way be playing along with the rules of the patriarchal and racist society we live in?  After all, it often seems that the less feminine you are, the more you are respected by the men with whom you work or interact.  Is it dangerous to be too feminine because it disempowers and transforms you into a sex object?

Is it possible to be feminine (this includes being sexy) AND powerful without playing into society’s expectations or stereotypes of us as Latinas?

Do heels make us look weak or actually make us weak? What do you all think?

:: Gaby Ortiz Flores is an Ensemble Member with Teatro Luna and the Lead Developer on the SUPERMUJERES project ::

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