The Politics of Love: Chicanas (Re) Write Love and Sexuality in Twentieth Century Literature



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In spite of the substantial amount of critical and theoretical work that has been produced on intersectional feminism in the past decades, I believe there is thin strand missing within the feminist agenda, which is love as a political category. This dissertation addresses the fact that male privilege has dominated all philosophical endeavors in regard to the meaning of love throughout history. On the other hand, anarcho-feminist author and activist Emma Godman during the first half of the twentieth century, emphasized the responsibility we all have to shed light on the political aspects of a woman’s private life. Through Goldman’s theory, I argue Chicana and Latina authors in the U.S. during the second half of the twentieth century, rather than pondering on the meaning love, poignantly question how is it women love, especially the ones from a Hispanic background, and how do religion, dogma, machismo, myths and legends inform the way they relate intimately. For this purpose, I focus on the novel Under the feet of Jesus by Helena María Viramontes, the play The Hungry Woman: A Mexican Medea by Cherríe Moraga and three poems by chicana lesbians: deseo by Karen T. Delgadillo, I believe en la Mujer by Cathy Arellano and From Between Our Legs by Natashia López; in order to expose the matrix of love (a set of unspoken rules that regulate how a woman is expected to love and relate to others -including God- intimately) revealing the contradictions that women are socially obliged to inhabit. Taking into consideration how intimate relationships are those where women are most likely to experience interpersonal violence and subjugation, I also examine through poetry the belief systems that keep Latinas and Chicanas queer/lesbians ostracized. I argue literature, drama and poetry function as forms of contestation and subversion against the moral, religious or mythical landscape that hold Latinas and Chicanas hostage and keep them marginalized even within their own families and communities.



Chicana, Chicano, Chicanx literature, Twentieth century, Feminism, Love, Faith, Sexuality, Latina literature, Latina/o theater, Hispanic literature, Latina poetry, Latinas