Monthly Archives: March 2012

Thoughts on Limbaugh, Sex for Pleasure and Birth Control

March 26, 2012

By Ella Diaz

"Prevention" by brains the head

“Prevention” by brains the head

The recent radio blast by Rush Limbaugh regarding 3rd year law school student, Sandra Fluke, and her advocacy for female student rights to contraception at Georgetown University was jarring for this MALCS blogger. Sandra Fluke was verbally attacked by Rush Limbaugh and I was shocked by the hatred for a particular type of woman in this country. This particular type of woman is like me and you: she is well-educated, articulate, progressive in her politics, and feminist in her worldview and praxis. This particular type of woman is definitely a symbolic threat in our high-security-times in the U.S., a period in which our law enforcement seeks control and surveillance at all levels of society. While many may write off Limbaugh’s attack of Fluke as belligerent, or out of touch, the fact is that global misogyny and feminicide is exploding and undeniable. Left unchecked for so long, it is now rearing its head more visibly in the affluent and privileged classes. In other words, it is of no concern to Fluke’s detractors if she is white, married, a mother, or culturally conservative as she definitely demonstrated in her interview with journalist Amy Goodman on February 17, 2012, which you can watch at:

Fluke was barred from testifying in front of a Congressional panel considering contraception coverage by religious institutions. (Let’s bear in mind that religious institutions are completely entitled to their points of view on the topic, but health care providers are not.) In her interview, Goodman asked Fluke to respond to the charge that the government should not be involved in women’s reproductive choices; Fluke replied that the issue was actually about women’s health. She gave an example of a colleague who suffers from polycystic ovarian syndrome and is under-going premature menopause because she doesn’t have access to birth control at Georgetown, proving her point that doctors prescribe birth control for women’s health issues; it is not merely a family planning tool or a way to avoid having babies. Fluke also made sure to qualify herself as a married (a.k.a. monogamous) woman in her interview with Goodman. Verbal attacks and cultural campaigns against professional women who speak publicly about their bodies will only increase in the coming months leading up to the election.

While I applaud Fluke’s smart strategy for countering mainstream presumptions about why women use birth control, I wonder if it only maintains patriarchal standards for women? I mean, I’m not married, I don’t have or desire any kids, and I am sexually active. With nothing to be ashamed of, I would like to confront Limbaugh’s carefully laid out rationale for why women such as me should post our sexual activities on the internet, since we expect the government to pay us to have sex. Oh, yes, folks, I am not putting words in his mouth or even paraphrasing:

Rush Limbaugh“What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? Makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex, she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex.”

Limbaugh went onto propose that if the government pays for Fluke to have sex, we as taxpayers should get something; we should be able to watch.

The problem, though, is we have already been watching for years. It’s just been someone else’s good time. Everyday we watch ads and infomercials for various men’s enhancements and desire supplements. From Extenze and Viagra commercials, to Trojan Man ads, men’s desire and virility remains perfectly natural and central to the cultural norm in the twenty-first-century. Recently, a series of K-Y Jelly ads have featured mutual “satisfaction,” but I noticed how the ads frame pleasure through a particular moralist and racial understanding of sex.  From the several commercials I have caught, they are always heterosexual couples who are always in bed and of the same race. This is what acceptable sex looks like. Message received.

Limbaugh also issued two apologies in the following weeks, the first was calculated and smug; the second more sober, given that about fifty sponsors had pulled out. The other day in a conversation about the incident I was told that the whole Sandra Fluke debacle was a distraction—a planned event to get us easy-to-rile-“femi-nazis” upset and off topic. I mean, there are so many other important issues facing the nation—gas prices, employment opportunities flat-lining, and the economic downturn. But while I was told not to get too worked up over nothing, a bill in Arizona nears passage (at the date of this blog) that will allow any employer to opt out of providing contraception coverage. Women who seek reimbursement would have to prove they’re using it for medical reasons, and not birth control. Georgia’s state senate also voted to ban abortion coverage under the state employee’s healthcare plan. The New Hampshire State House passed a similar measure. In Utah, legislation has been passed that would make their state the first to ban public schools from teaching contraception as a way to prevent pregnancy or STDs. The Virginia senate passed a bill requiring an ultrasound via vaginal or topical probe for every patient prior to undergoing an abortion. For more, on this whirlwind of legislation, please see:

Ella Diaz is a Visiting Faculty member at the San Francisco Art Institute. Her Ph.D. in American Studies is from the College of William and Mary. Diaz is an At Large Representative of MALCS.


Mujeres Talk Moderator  June 2, 2012 at 6:24 AM

Ella, your blog essay had 179 pageviews on the day it was posted and I recently heard someone mention at a conference how much they liked it! Thanks for speaking out on Latina reproductive health.

Latinas/os in Film and Television?

March 19, 2012

By Susan Mendez    

            Another Oscar season has come and gone and for anyone interested in the representation of people of color in mainstream visual culture or the dramatic arts, it has been a disappointing season once again. This year, the talk was all about how The Help was the controversial film to watch. Yes, this movie did provide the only two African-American actors/actresses up for awards in this year’s Oscar season, but the reality is that the roles that they played were ones of domestic servants. And the larger reality is that The Help was most likely the best choice for finding meaty, starring roles for these actresses. African-American actors and actresses have long dealt with the challenge of making stereotypical near racist roles and stories compelling and worthwhile. This problematic position just highlights the lack of interesting, complex roles for African-American actors and actresses due to the economic reality of supply and demand. Stereotypical stories of hardship are what people will pay to see; thus, they are what movie production companies will financially back. Recently, the backstory on the difficulties that George Lucas had in getting his movie RedTails made became public knowledge as part of the publicity for this film. Red Tails, not the first movie to honor the Tuskegee Airmen and featuring a near-all African-American cast, still faced so many obstacles in production that not even having the name George Lucas attached to the project was enough to get investors. Finally, Lucas became the main financial backer himself. Yet, with all these very public and well-known problems facing the African-American community in getting proper representation in the mainstream visual culture or the dramatic arts, I cannot help but think that the Latina/o community has much work to do even to get to this public and problematic stage in the world of mainstream visual culture.      

            When I think of recent mainstream films that highlight the Latina/o experience in the United States, I come up with a very short list. This is possibly because I do not get to teach visual cultural texts often in my classes so the impetus to keep abreast of the latest films is not great in my work. Also, I live and work in a relatively small and not so-diverse town so even just flipping through the local news or arts paper will not keep me up-to-date on Latina/o film. The latest mainstream film related to the Latina/o experience that I can remember was the release of the action parody Machete (2010) with its very clear political commentary on the immigration issue. But other than that film, in the recent past, these are the films that I can recall: QuinceañeraAngel RodriguezWashington HeightsRaising Victor VargasA Day Without a Mexican, El Cantante, Maid in ManhattanGirlfightSelena, Mi Vida LocaThree Burials of Melquiades EstradaPiñero, LonestarAmerican MeMi FamiliaStar Maps, SalsaLa BambaBorn in East L.A., Stand and Deliver, El Norte, and Zoot Suit. These are the movies that I can remember either easily seeing in the theatres or getting a copy of at a local store; this is not meant to be a comprehensive list at all. But even in this sampling of mainstream films that highlight the Latina/o experience in the United States, one can see two patterns: the emphasis on the Chicana/o community in the southwest and the Dominican/Puerto Rican communities in the northeast and the general lack of commercial and/or critical success.  The end result is a grouping of films that do not cover the diversity of the Latina/o community in the United States and that are not successful in any common measurable way. Yet, this discussion, this well-founded lament for complex and diverse roles and stories for the Latina/o community is not as public as it is for African-American community. Why is this so? Furthermore, few recent Oscar seasons have included Latina/o actors, actresses, or films that focus on the Latina/o experience in the United States, with the notable exception of Demián Bichir’s Best Actor nomination this year for A Better Life. It seems that we as a community are behind in having these significant discussions, questions, and concerns brought into the public light. Independent film endeavors and projects are fantastic and worthwhile in getting more critical representations of the Latina/o community circulating, but it is important not to undervalue mainstream visual culture. This is the arena in which various representations of the Latina/o community are easily proliferated and become accessible. This arena includes the world of television but even here, the number and variety of shows and roles that feature Latinas/os and their stories have been disappointing. Television shows such as I Love Lucy, Chico and the ManI Married DoraResurrection BoulevardGeorge LopezCane, and Ugly Betty have been pivotal in gaining representation for Latinas/os, but these stories, for the most part, do not stray far from familiar tales of exotic entertainment or hardshipThe majority of the United States population learns of the different communities within this nation from the world of television and mainstream film. Therefore, the same questions and concerns that dominate the African-American community in the realm of visual culture need to have a central and public presence for the Latina/o community as well.      

Susan Mendez is on the faculty of the University of Scranton and serves as an At-Large Representative of MALCS. 


Mujeres Talk Moderator  June 2, 2012 at 6:38 AM

Your blog essay is a also a resource on Latina/o film and television programs. Has anyone written about Resurrection Boulevard? It was a fascinating drama that provided Elizabeth Peña with a meaty part.

And Ain’t I an American?

March 12, 2012

by Maria E. Ramirez in Honor of “And Ain’t I a Woman?” by Sojourner Truth

America is a Hemisphere
North, Central, South,
United, not Divided,
Historically and culturally Indigenous at its core,
majestic land of the Eagle and Condor.
Two continents centrally merged as one.
We called ourselves, “Children of the Earth, Stars, Moon and Sun.”
This land was respected and honored in every way,
Called many names which remain to this day
Turtle Island, Pacha Mama, Anahuac, and Abya Yala are but a few
Now called America, which in terms of historical times, is very new.
The original trading routes and migratory trails our ancestors paved
Are now inter-continental super highways
We are still here on this land
And ain’t I an American?

America is a Hemisphere
Upon the North American continent
The United States of America resides
with Canada and Mexico on its northern and southern sides.
So it should be perfectly clear
“American” is inclusive of the rainbow of people who live on this hemisphere.
The problem now seems to be when the U. S. of A. uses
“American” and “America”, exclusively.
As if only they can decide who is “American” and who is not,
so now a mindless war over legality and legitimacy is being fought.
The United States of America is a very young country it’s true
But American history didn’t start with the Red, White, and Blue
We are still here on this land
And ain’t I an American?

America is a Hemisphere
Rooted in Indigenous cosmology,
profoundly rich in spirituality, with its nature based cyclical philosophy.
These teachings go back thousands of years on this land
So how can they be considered “Un-American.”
This way of life still has great relevancy,
during these times of planetary instability and educational incompetency.
Stop denying our youth their history and birthright to know:
The past they embody and where they are destined to go.
We are still here on this land
And ain’t I an American?

All Rights Reserved 2012. Email:

Maria Ramirez is a counselor and performance artist.


Mujeres Talk Moderator  June 2, 2012 at 6:35 AM

Thank you Maria for sharing this poem.

Glee and Chiquita-fication

March 5, 2012

by Theresa Delgadillo

The February 7, 2012, episode of Glee, titled “The Spanish Teacher” features Ricky Martin in a guest appearance as David Martinez, who, as a Latino teacher of Spanish, becomes a rival to Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) for both the affections of the Glee students and a tenured spot on the teaching staff. The episode opens with Mr. Schuester recognizing that his annual rendition of “La Cucaracha” on “Taco Tuesday” has been an embarrassingly tired class lesson. Alerted by the principal that a tenured teaching spot is opening up yet facing complaints over his glaring inabilities in teaching Spanish, Mr. Schuester tries to quickly improve his chances by taking Martinez’s Spanish class in night school, and recruiting Mr. Martinez to assist him in teaching the kids Spanish through Glee Club.

The students quickly become enamored of Mr. Martinez’s language teaching skills and knowledge of Latina/o popular culture, and they demonstrate this learning in bilingual performances of Gloria Estefan’s “Si Voy A Perderte (Don’t Wanna Lose You)” and a mash-up of the Gipsy Kings “Bamboleo” and Enrique Iglesias’s “Hero.” Student Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) calls attention to the contrast between, on the one hand, Martinez’s sophistication and savvy about Latina/o culture and language and, on the other hand, Will Schuester’s hackneyed, stereotypical representations of Latinas/os and Latina/o culture in his Spanish classroom. Santana engineers a showdown by challenging Mr. Schuester to defend his Spanish teacher honor in performance, and he accepts Santana’s challenge to produce a Glee Club number that demonstrates his competence, “coolness” and masculinity. In the Spanish teacher showdown, Santana joins Ricky Martin as Mr. Martinez in Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita,” a performance that seems to call into question the heteronormativity of the song given the sexuality of both fictional character and actual performer. Schuester does a Mariachi inflected performance of Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation” in Spanish, wearing a full matador costume. Santana’s role in this episode is interesting. Her anonymous complaint, though it eventually leads to the right spot for everyone involved, is taken by Schuester as a betrayal, and in a concurrent storyline in the episode Coach Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) also accuses Santana of betrayal on the false assumption that it was Santana who complained about Sue’s teaching. The notion of Santana as Malinche is upended, however, when both Will and Sue are shown to have been wrong about Santana. The episode thereby heightens its focus on a Latina/o student making an apt critique that hints at unspoken levels of discrimination, as it plays with notions of masculinity and norms governing gender and sexuality.

Jeremy Wetzel, who writes regularly on Glee, addressed the characterization of Schuester as incompetent, taking seriously the fictional show’s setting in Ohio: “However, such hiring practices have not been realistic in Ohio, or almost any other state, in quite some time. There is no way that Will would be hired to teach a foreign language without majoring in it in college and passing tests. The educational process in Ohio is pretty strict and he could not teach a subject he knows nothing about. As such, the entire episode is completely ridiculous.” (Jeremy Wetzel’s TV Review of Glee episode “The Spanish Teacher” on Gleekonomics web site, February 8, 2012). Wetzel overlooks the real issue in the episode, which Santana highlights when she tells Schuester: “you don’t even know enough to be embarrassed about these stereotypes that you’re perpetuating.” The issue is language but it’s also cultural competence when Latina/o students are in the classroom (or in our increasingly Latina/o future, as Mr. Martinez notes in his first lesson). Santana objects to what scholar Ana Celia Zentella calls the chiquita-fication of language. In this way “The Spanish Teacher” seems relevant to the recent ban on Ethnic Studies courses in Arizona K-12 education and the Tucson Unified School District’s banning of books by renowned Chicana/o, Latina/o and Native American authors. Could this be a pro-ethnic studies twist? Or is it about evaluations of teaching? What work is popular culture doing here?

Santana’s critique of Will Schuester is one that students in Arizona are now leveling: you don’t know our history here, our cultures, our languages, our literatures. Santana asks to be taken seriously as a Latina/o student in her school and asks that Latina/o studies be taken seriously. In the end, Schuester gets it, ceding his post to Mr. Martinez who he recognizes as the real expert (this is fictional, folks) and taking up teaching in his true passion – history (hmmm, what’s the subtext there?), while fiancée Emma Pillsbury (Jayma Mays) is awarded the tenured spot for her steady and dedicated work in health education (which Schuester previously derided as silly and gimmicky). A happy ending even for Latinas/os in this fictional Ohio school.

Theresa Delgadillo is Mujeres Talk Moderator. She is on the faculty of Ohio State University.


  1. Between The Binaries  March 5, 2012 at 9:52 PM

    Brilliant! I had seen the preview for that episode but missed it when it aired. Can’t wait to catch up now ;D

  2. Anonymous  March 6, 2012 at 8:14 PM

    love it! i’ll be passing it on. thanks! :-)))))
    Francisca James Hernández, Ph.D.

  3. Anonymous  March 6, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    FROM: Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs, Associate Professor, Seattle University
    Love your piece Theresa, right on in your criticism. I know that in reality high school teachers need to be credentialed in their area in which they teach, however, I have seen this type of thing happen, where someone in Social Studies is given a couple of (leftover) classes in Spanish, that is, that language classes oftentimes are put in the category of PE classes, also wrong, but yet it is done, administrators feel that anybody can teach those classes.

    What was unrealistic about the episode is that if you have followed Glee all along you have seen a competent Spanish teacher in Will Schuester, and all of a sudden he does not know anything in Spanish. Also the torero outfit, is a bit much, yet I like what they have done by empowering Santana, but she also comes short in her Spanish, which is not addressed at all. Many of my Latina/o students are always complaining that people assume they speak Spanish because they are Latinas/os, which is not of course automatic, as we all know, that stereotype is perpetuated in the piece. It has it’s faults, but yet I find this type of pop culture program addressing these types of issues, and introducing these discussions to the mainstream viewer are absolutely timely. Thank you Theresa!!!!

  4. Anonymous  March 7, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    FROM: Jordan Kelsey, student at OSU
    Dear Dr. Gutierrez y Muhs, I agree that the episode does address these issues, but I think that it perpetuates just as many stereotypes as it seeks to discredit. In Theresa’s class we watched a documentary called The Bronze Screen. The film followed Latina/o depiction in American film from the early 20th Century on. One thing that the film discussed was the recurring patterns of Latina/o personas in film (the greaser, the Latin lover, etc…). This episode (perhaps unknowingly) contributes to that pattern in their depictions of Santana y Señor Martinez. The hypersexualized Latina/o appears throughout the film. The writers also make it a point to announce that Señor Martinez’s parents were undocumented immigrants. The way in which they do so seems very unnecessary and unrelated to any of the main concerns of the episode. It’s little things like this that perpetuate stereotypes in the episode.
In class we also discussed an article by Luis C. Moll and Richard Ruiz that talked briefly about the underrepresentation of Latina/o students in comparison to faculty demographics in public school systems. Although the authors were specifically talking about school in LA County with an overwhelming Latina/o majority, this episode speaks to the issue with the (in this episode at least) incompetent depiction of Will Schuester.

  5. Mujeres Talk Moderator  March 22, 2012 at 7:59 AM

    Thanks all for your comments! Gabriella, I’m glad that you noted that Will Schuester has not been portrayed as falling short in his teaching earlier in series, which adds the question of why now. I thought Santana’s singing in Spanish showed that it was not her first language but that she was bilingual, which tempered the stereotype for me a little. Jordan, I’m not sure I agree. In the episode, people are falling all over Mr. Martinez, but he isn’t acting that way, except for the performance of LMFAO song, which highlights the fact that it is a performance! I like the connection you make to Luis C. Moll’s and Richard Ruiz’s work — because the episode seems also about valuing the cultural resources of a community. Thanks all!

“This Is Us”: A Legacy of Mentorship and Scholarship con Corazón

April 2, 2012

By Brenda Sendejo

On March 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, the 2012 Tejas Foco Regional Conference of The National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies (NACCS) convened at Texas State University, San Marcos.  Scholars, writers, artists and community members gathered to recognize and celebrate scholarship, art and knowledge of nuestra cultura. Over 200 conference participants attended more than 60 panel sessions with a rich array of topics. I participated in an intergenerational panel of Chicanas with two students from our university and feminist scholar and historian, Martha P. Cotera. Through testimonio, personal narrative and historical analysis, panelists showed how Our Lady of Guadalupe-Tonantzin has acted as a symbol of Chicana identity and catalyst for social change over three generations. The perspectives on the intersection of spirituality and social justice spoke to the conference theme, “This Is Us: Cómo Nos Ven, Cómo Nos Vemos / Changing Chican@ Identity in the 21st Century.” Our respective lenses on our relationships to La Virgen reflected who we are Chicanas today, and how we have developed politically, spiritually and intellectually over the decades. But our experience at the 2012 Tejas Foco also served to show how, as a Chicana/o community we believe in and are committed to mentoring and producing scholarship con corazón.

I invited Susi and Melissa to participate on the panel because I had seen how deeply Chicana feminist scholarship has impacted them and resonated with their lived experiences. I suspected attending their first Chicana/o Studies conference could be a powerful experience for the students, and this proved to be true. Being with them at the Foco took me back to my first MALCS conference several years ago, where I found a space of validation and community where discussions around integrating our scholarship and teaching with activism were central. I continue to be inspired by mujeres whose paths I have crossed through MALCS and by those in the NACCS community. Through these communities I’ve learned that intellect has little meaning, unless it is passed down to future generations used to make a difference in the world. And, importantly, that it must be motivated by corazón. This year’s Tejas Foco was my first opportunity as an educator to see how the impact of this on my students.

I recognized Susi and Melissa’s starry-eyed looks upon meeting Martha and later, other scholars whose work had impacted them so, as to this day I still get that same look in my eyes. I watched as the students’ eyes lit up upon walking into the ballroom and hearing mariachis playing the familiar, “Volver.” They were in a space where they were in the majority, rather than the norm of being in the minority on our campus. These first generation college students have been involved in various struggles and social justice work over their lives and at our predominantly white liberal arts college. Therefore, entering the conference, a space of acceptance where they, their stories, cultural heritage, and histories were embraced and validated, was a moving experience for them, and for me to witness. Our panel presentation would prove to be a similar experience.

The panel audience of approximately 12 attendees was comprised of scholars, including MALCSistas, Profesora Norma Cantú and conference organizer, Profesora Ana Juárez, students, community members, and two members of our campus community. The panel itself represented a legacy of Chicana feminist scholarship and mentorship. We explored the ways that the historical and cultural legacy of Guadalupe-Tonantzin has manifested in the social activism and spiritual identities of generations of Chicanas since the movimiento. Martha discussed how La Virgen saved second wave feminism, Susi presented on how La Virgen aids her in moments of choque as a Chicana activist, and Melissa discussed how she invokes her mother and her teachings of La Virgen in persevering as an activist. I discussed teaching about Guadalupe-Tonantzin to Chicana/o students through a spiritual activist pedagogy that informs our understanding of Chicana identity.

Sharing their personal narratives for the first time in public elicited, as one would expect, strong emotions from both Melissa and Susi. As others and I have done when talking about the difficult and empowering moments in our lives, the women shed tears. I recall the saying, “Tears are not a sign of weakness, but a sign that you have been strong for too long.” These women epitomize this kind of strength, and it was apparent that the audience could feel this as well. One of the students, overcome with emotion, was having difficulty continuing on with her paper. Dr. Emilio Zamora assured her from the audience that she was doing just fine, and would later tell her that her tears were a sign of maturity. I watched as more such moments of support unfolded, as in a tender moment where Martha told a joke about a statue of La Virgen in Crystal City that lightened the mood and almost brought us all to tears of laughter. In the Q & A Dr. Cantú assured one student self conscious about her writing not to worry, that she was fine and that she can just get a good editor, for the ideas, the feeling, the intellect, the corazón were there. Following the presentation they received well-deserved accolades for their presentations.

My heart grew full witnessing this outpouring of communal support for Susi and Melissa and their work and lives, and I am truly grateful for a wonderful Tejas Foco Conference whose organizers and attendees embraced student research and growth. Melissa and Susi will carry this experience with them always, as will I. Moments like these and working with students like them help keep my spirit in tact in the academy; they are healing for me, and, I hope for them as well. Our panel on Guadalupe-Tonantzin’s continuity as a symbol of Chicana strength, perseverance, ability to overcome adversity, and as a catalyst for social justice was in itself a symbol of these things. This legacy of mentoring and doing scholarship con corazón characterizes us as a Chicana/o community. This is us.

Brenda Sendejo is on the Faculty of Southwestern University.


  1. Anonymous  April 10, 2012 at 7:36 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Bren  May 3, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    Thank you so much, Deena! This means a great deal from you, someone who has modeled the kind of mentoring and scholarship development of which I wrote. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this comunidad.

  3. Anonymous  May 15, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    So beautifully expressed, Brenda; and such amazing things you are doing for SU students…This is what anthropology should look like; indeed scholarship and the academic world in general should model itself on this kind of integration of community, reflection and activism ….You rock! Your SU colleague, Mel

  4. Anonymous  June 2, 2012 at 6:50 AM
    From Deena Gonzalez on April 10, 2012 7:36 AM
    Thank you, Brenda, for sharing this information and in this format; so many faculty, students, and staff of MALCS continue this tradition, enacting the two things consistently at once, mentoring awarenesses and developing scholarship. They go hand and hand as MALCS and NACCS have shown over the decades. There is a lot of work and strength going on in Texas and it is great to learn about it! Saludos, Deena Gonzalez (CA, Loyola Marymount University)