Chicano Studies 8
Monday, June 4, 2012
The following essay will discuss Chapter Three “The Flapper and The Chaperone” from the book From Out of the Shadows, Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America. The main idea of the reading is that during the 1920s, chaperonage was a traditional instrument of social control over unmarried Mexican-American women. According to Vicki L. Ruiz author of the book, throughout all this time, young Mexican women in the United States played an important role to hold their families together. Society, mass culture, Americanization, family value, consumption and advertisements were some of the factors that influenced and pressured Mexican families to enforce chaperonage on their unmarried women.
The author describes that during the interwar period, “a family’s standing in the community or society depended, in part, on women’s purity. (p.52)” For example, the loss of virginity not only tainted the reputation of an individual, but of her family as well. Patriarchal domination existed and so, for Mexicano immigrants living in a new environment filled with temptations that could confuse their young generations, the enforcement of chaperonage was a particular urgency to protect their women. Such temptations were the promises of reaching the American dream that was found in magazines, movies, and radio programs. Mother’s viewed the romance magazines, like True Stories, that would give their daughters “bad ideas”. However, these elements of popular culture were not always seen as bad, they also served as tools for literacy. Many Mexican women learned how to read and understand English through the love story books.
Another component that influenced Mexican families in many ways besides mass culture to chaperonage their women was Americanization. At a very early age, throughout the Southwest, Spanish-speaking children were forced to swim in an English-only environment. The author goes on to emphasize...