Chicana Studies

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Selena and Marisa Navarro are prime examples of two women who experienced significant patriarchical constraints to their agency. This, however, did not stop them from negotiating and resisting these constraints in their own way and in their own life. Their stories are told through various mediums, including the movie Selena and the article "Becoming La Mujer" by Marisa Navarro. Selena's strongest patriarchical influence came from her father, who attempted to control various aspects of her life for many years. Navarro also felt the effects of constraint, but by both of her parents. Unfortunately, these women were victim to the "good girl" (virgin) and "bad girl" (whore) dichotomy, which embodies the impossible idea that women must be sexually attractive, yet unavailable. This not only further encourages the concept of patriarchy in a Chicana's life, but it also distorts the social construction of gender relations among women and men. Despite various influences and obstacles in these young Chicana's lives, Selena and Marisa still managed to achieve sexual independence. This independence was only one aspect of their identity, with the other major part being their personal agency.

Selena's strongest patriarchical constraint was her father. In the article "Reconceptualizing Gender Through Intercultural Dialogue: The Case of the Tex-Mex Madonna", it is said that Selena's father referred to her as "a genuinely good person" who was "clean and stood for the family" (Willis and Gonzalez 1997), but, he still attempted to control many aspects of her life. One scene in the Movie Selena emphasizes this idea when Selena goes on stage in a bustier and begins to perform, at which point her father instantly objects and asks Selena's mother why Selena is wearing such a suggestive article of clothing. Another moment in which Selena's father, Abraham, constrains Selena with his "father figure" role is when she begins to have relations with Chris, a member of the band. Abraham asks his daughter numerous times to stop seeing Chris, at which point she rebels, further exercising her personal agency, and continues to date Chris. Selena was very well known inside the tejano community, as she was a Mexican-American resident of southern Texas, and unfortunately, this made her subject to "a deeply patriarchical culture where men controlled, denigrated, idealized and protected women" (Willis and Gonzalez 1997). Selena's image was often contradicted because while she was seen as the "Madonna of Tejano music" (Willis and Gonzalez 1997). This explains why her image was often contradicted. Selena wanted to be portrayed as "sexy" and "beautiful", after the likes of Madonna and other huge pop stars, but at the same time, she did not want to disappoint her family, especially her father. During Selena's time, the virgin-whore dichotomy was often not very forgiving, which made Selena's search for her true identity very difficult, as she was receiving labels such as "sexually explicit, dominating, and disrespectful" (Willis and Gonzalez 1997), associated with being called the "Tex-Mex Madonna" (Willis and Gonzalez 1997), all while she "simultaneously maintained conservative family values." (Willis and Gonzalez 1997). However, Selena always made a conscious effort to make her intentions clear: she was there to make music for the people and enjoy her experience as a young female stage performer, dressing as she pleased. Thus, she built a strong relationship with the Tejano community and her audiences, in addition to the already-strong relationship she shared with her family. Selena's chief obstacle and constraint as a young woman was very simply that of her father and the limelight. Abraham's patriarchical constraints stemmed from two ideas: his wish for Selena's success, despite her being a woman in the music industry. Fighting the constraints placed on her, Selena was able to become her own person in a society that did not necessarily promote this idea....
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