"Hips don't lie" : Mexican American female students' identity construction at The University of Texas at Austin


"Hips don't lie" : Mexican American female students' identity construction at The University of Texas at Austin

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dc.contributor.advisor Straubhaar, Joseph D.
dc.creator Portillo, Juan Ramon
dc.date.accessioned 2012-11-09T14:20:01Z
dc.date.available 2012-11-09T14:20:01Z
dc.date.created 2012-08
dc.date.issued 2012-11-09
dc.date.submitted August 2012
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2152/ETD-UT-2012-08-6189
dc.description.abstract While a university education is sold to students as something anyone can achieve, their particular social location influences who enters this space. Mexican American women, by virtue of their intersecting identities as racialized women in the US, have to adopt a particular identity if they are to succeed through the educational pipeline and into college. In this thesis, I explore the mechanics behind the construction of this identity at The University of Texas at Austin. To understand how this happens, I read the experiences of six Mexican American, female students through a Chicana feminist lens, particularly Anzaldúa’s mestiza consciousness. I discovered that if Mexicana/Chicana students are to “make it,” they have to adopt a “good student, nice Mexican woman” identity. In other words, to be considered good students, Mexican American women must also adopt a code of conduct that is acceptable to the white-centric and middle-class norms that dominate education, both at a K-12 level and at the university level. This behavior is uniquely tied to the social construction of Mexican American women as a threat to the United States because of their alleged hypersexuality and hyperfertility. Their ability to reproduce, biologically and culturally, means that young Mexican women must be able to show to white epistemic authorities that they have their sexuality and gender performance “under control.” However, even if they adopt this identity, their presence at the university is policed and regulated. As brown women, they are trespassers of a space that has historically been constructed as white and male. This results in students and faculty engaging in microaggressions that serve to Other the Mexican American women and erect new symbolic boundaries that maintain a racial and gender hierarchy in the university. While the students do not just accept these rules, adopting the identity of “good student, nice Mexican woman” limits how the students can defend themselves from microaggressions or challenge the racial and gender structure. Nevertheless, throughout this thesis I demonstrate that even within the constraints of the limited identity available to the students, they still resist dominant discourses and exercise agency to change their social situation.
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language.iso eng
dc.subject Chicana feminism
dc.subject Mexican American
dc.subject Female student
dc.subject University
dc.subject College
dc.subject Identity
dc.subject Agency
dc.subject Resistance
dc.subject Mestiza consciousness
dc.subject Texas
dc.subject Austin
dc.subject Latina
dc.subject Stereotypes
dc.title "Hips don't lie" : Mexican American female students' identity construction at The University of Texas at Austin
dc.title.alternative Mexican American female students' identity construction at The University of Texas at Austin
dc.date.updated 2012-11-09T14:20:10Z
dc.identifier.slug 2152/ETD-UT-2012-08-6189
dc.contributor.committeeMember Hogan, Kristen
dc.description.department Women's and Gender Studies
dc.type.genre thesis
dc.type.material text
thesis.degree.department Women's and Gender Studies
thesis.degree.discipline Women's and Gender Studies
thesis.degree.grantor University of Texas at Austin
thesis.degree.level Masters
thesis.degree.name Master of Arts

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