Skip to main content

Summer of Feminista: A Latina Hybrid

My name is Dulce and I am an expert guide in helping others chart their own course because I am a psychologist.

My journey started in a working-class suburb of Chicago, a middle child of Mexican immigrant parents. My parents left the beet and lettuce fields of California and Texas to work in the factories of Chicago. A choice made, they later told me, to give their children a better life; a life not filled with calluses and back-breaking work, but a life filled with more opportunities than they could never dream of for themselves.

My mother loves to use dichos; sayings that are common in my family as in many Mexican families; they are manifestations of a family's values, a reflection of familial cultural mores. One of my mother's favorite dichos is: "Cada cabeza es un mundo". This simple idiom literally means that each mind is a world in itself. As a psychologist I am compelled to look closer at this expression. It asks fundamental questions: Who am I? Is a person a product of the environment he/she inhabits? How is a person defined? I looked for answers from a variety of places; books, music, art, social activism, relationships. As an undergraduate, my interest in how social, cultural, biological variables intersected was sparked by Gloria Anzaldúa's book “Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza”. In this seminal work on culture and identity, she articulated my experience living in a world of ambiguity. Being a child of immigrants, I occupy a world that is tinted by shades of belonging. I am an American who is not quite an American, a Mexican who is not quite a Mexican—a hybrid.

Being a Chicana lesbian, I occupy a world that is molded by rigid gender and racial identities. I am woman who doesn’t conform to traditional gender or cultural roles. So I created my own world. Mi mundo is filled with people who can quote Derrida while eating tacos de carne quisada , who dance between worlds, cultures, genders; who deny the existence of God but pray to la Virgen . I am a lesbian who was raised by a wild pack of jotos, who enjoys the politics of drag and gender illusion. My world is a place where my compañera and I live sin vergüenza of living a life of multiple identities. I am also a feminist who understands the impact of the dominant culture's influence on personal identity. In order for feminism to survive, it must be a hybrid, a place where we move away from the binary and into a place in which we build bridges between communities/ identities/spiritualties. Feminism must be a place where we live “sin fronteras/be a crossroads”.

Dulce Benavides is Chicago born and bred; Tejana Chicana Washingtonian who will receive her doctorate in Psychology this fall and you can find her at

Summer of Feminista 2011 is a project where Latinas are sharing their thoughts on Latinas as Public Intellectuals. Liberal. Conservative. Academic statements. Personal stories. Learn more or how you can join the Summer of Feminista. This is a project of Viva la Feminista. Link and quote, but do not repost without written permission.


Popular posts from this blog

Is there love after abortion?

Over two years ago , way before I started writing for Girl w/Pen, Alison Piepmeier wowed me with an essay about getting an abortion and how her decision made with her husband was a love story : ...the story I most want to tell—and one I have never heard—is of abortion as an intimate part of a couple’s life together.  Our abortion was a love story. I’d worried that Walter and I were rejecting a gift from the universe.  What I discovered, though, was that when we stripped away the distractions of everyday life so that we could make this difficult decision together, it bound us together as surely as if our choice had been different—and as it turns out, that was the gift. Every once in awhile their story returns to me. I often don't know why it stumbles into my brain and says, "Hey! Ponder me!" but it does. This morning it returned to me yelling, "Why?!" I was half-listening to WBEZ's 848 and some story about a man running away from his life. Original, I kn

Book Review: Wolfpack by Abby Wambach

Less than a year ago, Abby Wambach took the stage at Barnard's commencement and gave a speech that shook many, including myself, to the core . Her speech went viral and I made the above image in order to share the highlights of her speech. Earlier this month Abby released the speech in book form. Wolfpack : How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Game is short (less than 100 pages) but is much more than just her speech . You get a peek into how the speech came together and why she said everything. And because the book is short and is an expanded speech, it moves quickly. I feel that it moves with the same ferocity that Abby use to move down a soccer field. And you might find yourself cheering as she takes you through the story. Abby has always been one of my favorite players. The way she ran amok on the pitch was exactly the way I felt I played sports. Never caring how you looked and giving it your all. Leaving it all on the field. When she retired from socc

Review: Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley's Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter

Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley's Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter by Brea Grant My rating: 4 of 5 stars View all my reviews