February 8th, 2012
Why Latinas Aren’t Allowed To Be Angry, And Other Stereotypes

In a few very tangible ways, Latinas have it rougher than other folks. Not only do we often find ourselves in an ethnic/cultural/linguistic/racial minority, practically cueing others to pile on stereotypical expectations, but we’re also female, which means that often times we might be the only woman in the room,  and consequently bear the brunt of an entirely new set of stereotypical expectations.

I find this to be especially true when it comes to anger. It’s almost like, in our society, it appears that Latinas are not allowed to be angry. What happens if I get angry you ask? I not only get relegated to the “angry Latina” stereotype, but also the “overly emotional woman” stereotype. This creates a standardized and easy rationale for people, mostly men, to ignore anything I say, and write me off by either selecting one of these stereotypes, or better yet, both.

Why is it “okay” for men to be angry, or blow off steam, but when women do it — especially Latinas — somehow, it’s too much?  Racism and sexism only go so far as to explain away these stereotypes, what’s really at issue is how we buy into them as a culture. A perfect example is the tired joke about how women must be having “that time of the month” to explain away any hint of being disagreeable. And the spicy Latina stereotype —  raised voice, emotional soliloquies in Spanish, out-of-control gesticulation. It’s really just not as funny in real life, when you’re being accused of it, as when we see someone like Sofia Vergara do it on TV.

And it’s not like I get angry all the time, either. It’s just that I feel, for fairness’ sake, if I have to try to understand a man’s curious chest-beating frustrations, why do I become the subject of ridicule because I might raise my voice just a little? It’s about fairness, equity, being able to be a person instead of a woman or minority, or stereotype. In this particular instance, I’ve learned to forgo anger and replace it with sternness, or better yet, silence (to let the chest-beating died down a bit). It doesn’t mean that I don’t feel anger, it just means that I’ve learned to manage it in a socially palpable manner.

I don’t know that I’ll ever see the day when women or Latina stereotypes disappear altogether. But I sure hope that by the time I’m having these conversations with the next generation of women, they might have had the chance to experience normal emotions without being drowned in stereotypical responses.

[Photo By freeparking]

8 thoughts on “Why Latinas Aren’t Allowed To Be Angry, And Other Stereotypes

  1. I actually decided to write my final research paper on this Latina-rage-that-we-can’t-help-because-hey-they-just-have-no-self-control issue. I’m having a heck of a hard time finding any reasearch. Mainly because when I try looking things up on the internet, the first few hundred hits are pornography. Thank you google for suggesting I mean “wild” instead of “angry”. Uh-oh. There goes my latina rage, watch out, I might go off in Spanish.

  2. Love, love, love your story, very close to home in my extended family. I posted this on Facebook and the first thing anyone (white guy) said was, “wow, well I’ve seen a lot of angry latinas.” BARF. Delete. We need this article about a zillion more times. You were so eloquent.


  4. I wish my Mom would have known this.  Judging from the stain left on a wall when she hurled a Ketchup bottle at my father…Next thing I saw was my Dad on his knees, playing his guitar and singing with his best voice and then she started laughing!   That’s my MOM!

  5. I guess I am a living stereotype then, cause when I get mad, get out of the way. Never mind my 5 ft. Small boned stature. Never mind that my voice sounds more like a child’s than a woman’s. When I’m mad I’m 10 feet tall (well my hand gestures make it seems that way). And I command more respect than any man. Call it the effect of being raised in a matriarchal society. Or call it me just being sick and tired of hearing stories of women and Mexicans being taken advantage of and discriminated against. I’m sure that there are some people who have thought “oh, that emotional woman, oh, that wild Mexican”. But their stereotypes are their own problem, I make no apologies for who I am. I am a Mexican woman, and they haven’t seen crazy yet……..

    • I simply love everything about your comment. What caught my eye the most was this:

      “When I’m mad I’m 10 feet tall (well my hand gestures make it seems that way). And I command more respect than any man. Call it the effect of being raised in a matriarchal society.”

      I’m so proud and happy to have been raised in a matriarchal society so different than the stereotypical machismo beliefs that most people equate to our culture. I learned to be loud and expressive, but also passionate and strong. This is what taught me about self-worth and independence. I would trade any of it.

  6. jezebel recently had a discussion about how women are really not allowed to be angry without being dismissed.
    so there is the stereotypes for women then on top of that for being latina. when i shared with people i was trying to get pregnant a while ago they’d say i’d be pregnant in no time because i’m mexican. it took a year and it hurt so much thinking there was something wrong. then i miscarried. and it hurt even worse. because you know, i’m mexican and mexican women are all about family and are born to bear babes. it’s f-ed up.

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