Day and Night

Daphne V. Taylor-Garcia’s essay “Decolonizing Gender Performativity: A Thesis for Emancipation in Early Chicana Feminist Thought” critically analyzes the efforts of activists to ‘decolonize’ Eurocentric beliefs. Taylor-Garcia discusses critical points that move away from Eurocentric ideas of gender roles, sexuality, race, beauty. Her work can be applied to Gabriel Estrada’s “An Aztec Two-Spirit Cosmology” as both authors discusses subverting stereotypical gender roles enforced by European imperialism and colonization.

Before discussing Gabriel Estrada’s creative and personal essay, Taylor-Garcia’s framework of decolonization must be established. In her essay she not only discusses the historical and cultural significance of Chicana feminism’s move toward helping “many oppressed people” (109). She defines “the de-colonial turn” as “the defining characteristics… the expression of disenchantment with Eurocentric narratives of progress and Western superiority [and]… a second defining characteristic [that] is the foregrounding of ethics and the self-Other relationship in social and intersubjective analyses” (109). Her work focuses on paying “special attention to those perspectives that are seen as dispensable, irrelevant, and/or insignificant” which includes people “marginalized” further with activists’ movements. While the Chicano/a movement found many strong voices, they often excluded female and other voices. Likewise, a strictly feminist movement often left women of color out of decision-making and away from sharing their voices. Taylor-Garcia’s essay establishes the history of the Chicana feminists’ movement as they moved away from decolonization and describes it as an emergence “as resistance to racialized sexist oppression” (110).

Gabriel Estrada echoes Taylor-Garcia’s argument, but through his creative poems and prose. In his essay “An Aztec Two-Spirit Cosmology” in Gender on the Borderlands: The Frontiers Reader, he not only discusses the Aztec’s gender spectrum but how he fits into the equation. Estrada becomes deeply personal at the beginning of his work as he recollects “A White boy asked if I was a boy or a girl; I never bothered to answer the strong and puzzling question until I was older” (Estrada 11). Here he sets up the belief in the Aztec Two Spirit Gender. He defines the Two Spirit as “someone who is androgynous, bisexual, or homosexual [and] more than that… [someone who is} sexually mixed beings who enjoy a living relation with their Indigenous ways and spirituality” (12). To Estrada, two spirit is as natural to him as Night and day; he emphasizes this belief in the passage “night balances day…[and] I could not live actively in the day without resting at night” (12). He uses the transition of night and day as a metaphor for not only the masculine day, and mysterious and feminine night but to described his state of being. It wasn’t until he became familiar with “Catholic Influence” did he realize that people started to reject that which “is not heterosexual and male” (12). Estrada recognizes that colonial and religious beliefs became superior to those of the original peoples and that which wasn’t the norm was immediately rejected and oppressed.

Both Estrada and Taylor-Garcia recognize that the established heteronormative beliefs are not those of the decolonial Chicana feminist movement. Through decolonization and focusing on the perspective of marginalized peoples, Estrada and Taylor-Garcia move away from the established beliefs and react as a resistance movement in the creative and analytical works.

 

Citations

Estrada, Gabriel S. “An Aztec Two-Spirit Cosmology: Resounding Nahuatl Masculinities, Elders, Femininities, and Youth.” Gender on the Borderlands: The Frontiers Reader. By Antonia Castañeda. Lincoln: U of Nebraska, 2007. 10-15. Print.

aylor-Garcia, Daphne V. “Decolonizign Gender Performativity: A Thesis for Emanicpation in Early Chicana Feminist Throught (1969-1979).” Performing the US Latina and Latino Borderlands. By Arturo J. Aldama, Chela Sandoval, and Peter J. García. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2012. 107-24. Print.

 

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