Another Wednesday, another badass Latina to highlight as our #WCW. This time, it’s Brandy Montaño.
Brandy, a self-identified Genízaro, is a masculine-presenting mujer whose work (and very recent TEDxTalk) challenges ideas of womanhood, gender presentation and gender roles.
Below, find out how she is crushing the patriarchy.
1. How is the gender binary, along with gender roles and our society's ideas of femininity and masculinity, related to patriarchy?
It’s related in many ways, but most predominately, for me, it’s control. Men, mostly straight, white men, hold power and authority in this country, while women are subjugated. Patriarchy denies that women are powerful; it denies that femininity is needed. But patriarchy, a Eurocentric concept instilled through genocide, colonization and forced assimilation, doesn’t just ignore and devalue women; it also erases other genders. Many Indigenous societies recognized more than two genders. Often those non-binary people were healers and keepers of knowledge. When the conquerors came in, that's the first place they started: They started with wiping out those who held the medicine and tradition, and that's how the erasure of non-binary people and culture began. As patriarchy became the norm, when new non-binary people were born, oppressors moved from killing to shaming, and simply reinforced that men are expected to be a certain way and women are expected to be a certain way, thus creating gender roles. If we didn't fit into those roles, we were shamed and bullied into hiding, denying and suppressing it to save our lives. These limiting gender roles reinforce and keep the patriarchy alive.
2. Why is it important for you as a masculine mujer to reclaim your womanhood?
For a long time, I viewed my womanhood as kind of a punishment, partly because of the menstrual pain and partly because I thought that life would be so much easier if I was a man. I was into math and science, and I had to constantly prove myself in any academic arena I stepped into. I was already very masculine presenting, and I figured if my body matched that, it would be easier, so I let my masculinity take over.
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