Overview:

Propaganda is a term with a negative connotation often associated with one of the worst groups in history. An example of this is the topic of this is, most commonly associated with propaganda, the Nazis’ usage of propaganda to create an image of the Jewish people in an attempt to gather support for their elimination. Additionally, propaganda can have a more gentle tone, where it is not attempting to justify genocide. For the sake of this module, the definition of propaganda is spreading ideas and facts, often false, in order to provoke a certain response.[1] This is present throughout modern day media, whether it is obvious or not. The topic of how Hispanic women are portrayed in the media is an issue that has become more prominent in recent years and is often overlooked as propaganda, because it is not as severe as other uses of propaganda. What is occurring in media is that various platforms are unintentionally, and sometimes intentionally, using offensive stereotypes of Hispanic women in their representations of them to try and demonstrate their normal lives. This is of concern because the people doing the propaganda, the spreading of these ideas, do not always realize that they are being offensive and think the information about Hispanic women being either very sensual or items of the ideal domesticated spouse is just a fact of their culture.

Core Concepts:

The demonization of any group is never acceptable, even if they are bad people who have rightfully earned certain perceptions of them. Allowing their actions to speak is more effective than suggesting certain cynical ideas about a person or group not present to defend themselves or their actions. That being said, it is even worse to demonize groups that have done nothing wrong. As was aforementioned, the representation and portrayal of Hispanic women in the media is an issue on several levels.

To understand the issues of the propaganda towards Hispanic women, and men, even though that is not the subject here despite it also being an issue, one needs to know the history and origin of the offensive Hispanic stereotypes. The dislike towards Hispanic people by white people began in the United States of America in the early 1800’s with Manifest Destiny, from sea to shining sea. Early European Americans made it a common idea for Southwest Hispanics to be thought of as lesser humans. This was similar to what they had done with American Indians in the East. Whether the Hispanic people were U.S. citizens, newly arrived migrants from the south, or Latin Americans in their own countries, they were thought of as lesser humans.[2] This made it much easier for their displacement to be justified.

The two major stereotypes being addressed in this module are the hypersexualization of Hispanic women, and the belittling domestication perspective of Hispanic women. Not that being a housewife is anything not worthy of the most respect, but when that aspect is used as something to cause looking down on someone, it is no longer just a part of their existence, it is a propaganda idea. Hypersexualization is not unique to Hispanic women, but is presented at a higher rate in media that consists of Hispanic women. One study analyzed 18 hours of commercials consisting of Hispanic women, both in English and Spanish, and almost one-fourth (23.9%) of the commercials featured sexual content, whether it is verbal, physical, or implicit through body language and tone of message.[3]

One justification for using stereotypes is how it is more efficient and effortless. Many journalists, due to time and space constraints, may be more likely to rely on them.[4] This concept may seem unreasonable and lazy, but it can make sense when viewed from a different perspective. The racial stereotypes exists because even though a large majority of Spanish speaking journalists are Hispanic, many were trained and taught in American universities that have a historical white bias in their curriculum. This US socialization embeds them in similar routines and ideological influences to white journalists who work in a general market outlet.[5] Even though the Hispanic journalists may be able to identify how the stereotypes used are offensive, they could easily not have issues with their usage, as long as they personally are not offended.

 

Examples:

A very prominent example of Hispanic women being portrayed in stereotypical ways in current media is Gloria from Modern Family, played by Sofia Vergara. She embodies the “curvaceous,” sun-kissed trophy wife whose accented English is understood as the natural voice of many Latinas: inarticulate yet filled with attractive passion.[6] Sophia Vergara is a talented actress who took on the role of a ‘stereotypical’ sexy, Hispanic housewife. The focus of Latinas’ identity faces the issue of being simultaneously shaped by their female gender and their Hispanic ethnicity. Therefore, they face a ‘double jeopardy’ because their identity is partially formed by both sexual and racial stereotypes.[7] Sofia Vergara plays her character, fully accepting the sexual aspect of it, whilst also embracing the Hispanic stereotypes, using them to help make her acting memorable.

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-1-19-55-am
Fifure 1. NewHDwallpapers. Admin. Sopha Vergara wearing an outfit from Modern Family

 

Family Guy is an animated comedy show on Fox that features a character named Consuela.  Consuela is every bit the typical stereotype of a Latina housemaid.[8] She embodies the domesticated stereotype associated with Hispanic women. Consuela has a very thick accent, refers to everyone with a “misser” in front of his or her name, showing the feature associated with Hispanic maids that they refer to their employers with the unusual title. Hollywood operates on stereotypes as a shorthand way of defining characters in ways that are easy for audiences to identify and digest. But a steady diet of negative stereotypes as portrayed in the media can be very destructive to young people if there are also very few positive role models that they can identify with.[9]

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-2-47-19-am
Figure 2. Memergenerator.net. Consuela from Family Guy. 

 

Salma Hayek is a Hispanic actress known for several major roles, such as being in Grown Ups. She wants to help change the negative perspective of the Hispanic people in America. She dislikes the idea that Hispanic women are viewed as sexual items or actresses who play maids.[10] She has, herself, played a stereotypical sexualized Hispanic leading lady, because she wanted to get into the movie industry.

screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-4-03-37-am
Figure 3. Getty Images. Salma Hayek at Telemundo event. 

Shakira is a very talented musical artist, one who received a breakthrough in the music industry by stating with Spanish music and transitioning to the very popular English market. One of the most notable things about her is her provocative dancing, which is notable from even titles of her songs, such as Hips Don’t Lie, which is a song about her ability to use body language to know what men are thinking. Hispanic teens have had a 53% teen pregnancy rate, double average, in America. It could be attributed to intersecting social issues of gender, race, class, immigrant status and education.[11] The combination of difficult economic issues and the general social superiority people feel over Hispanic women are all factors in issues such as this. The hypersexualization of Shakira only adds to this stereotype, showing how whether or not it is true, it can help you become successful.

 

Screen Shot 2016-09-27 at 3.00.32 AM.png
Figure 4. Vougue. Shakira on fur rug, seductive pose. 

The fairly recent television show Devious Maids is a show that demonstrates the dual combination of the racial and sexual stereotypes associated with Hispanic women.[12] The maids, who on the upcoming Lifetime show face scorn and condescension from their wealthy Beverly Hills employers, have been accused of ‘degrading’ Latino women.[13] This example is a very good one for the mixture of the two stereotypes, since it does not necessarily focus more on one than the other. On the show, they play maids, but their characters are also hypersexualized, wearing very revealing outfits and acting in somewhat promiscuous ways, which embodies the stereotypes associated with Hispanic women.

Screen Shot 2016-09-27 at 2.58.38 AM.png
Figure 5. Adhemar Sburlati. Devious Maids. The cast of the TV show Devious Maids

 

Conclusion:

The demonization of Hispanic women in the media is an issue beyond just hurting the reputations of young Hispanic women trying to change the stereotypes against them. Issues stem deeper into the institutionalized racism spread throughout television, newspapers, and even the education system for sprouting journalists. There are currently advocates for change in society, trying to make it equal for all. No stereotype, whether appearing to be accurate, should have any negative effect on one’s career or social status.

 

Discussion Questions:

1) If we had to determine which of the two stereotypes discussed were more suppressing to Hispanic women’s careers and social status, which would it be? Why are these your thoughts?

2) What is an example present in the media, probably a TV show or movie, which you could think of that you never thought had these concerns, but you now see contains them? How does it make you feel, do you suddenly like it more/less?

3) What is the equivalent stereotype of these for Hispanic women to other groups in America? White men? Black women? Asian children? Do any of these change your views of certain commercials that might have these stereotypes in them?

4) Do hearing these stereotypes offend you? Why? Are these stereotypes serious enough to actually be a national discussion?

 

 

For More Information:

1) Aguila, Emma. United States and Mexico: Ties That Bind, Issues That Divide. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

2) Conserva, Henry T. Propaganda Techniques. Bloomington, IN.: Authorhouse, 2009. Print.

3) Https://medium.com/@george12102a. “Stereotypes: A Big Problem in Our Modern Society.” Medium. N.p., 14 May 2013. Web. 26 Sept. 2016.

4) Cisneros, Sandra. The House on Mango Street. New York: Vintage, 1991. Print.

 

References:

[1] “Propaganda.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.

[2] Padgett, Kenneth. “Brownface! – The History of Racist Latino/Hispanic Stereotypes.” Brownface! – The History of Racist Latino/Hispanic Stereotypes. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.

[3] Fullerton, J. A., and A. Kendrick. “Portrayal of Men and Women in U.S. Spanish-Language Television Commercials.” Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 77.1 (2000): 128-42. Web.

[4] [4] Correa, Teresa. “Framing Latinas: Hispanic Women through the Lenses of Spanish-language and English-language News Media.” Academia.edu. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2016. 427

[5] Correa, Teresa. “Framing Latinas: Hispanic Women through the Lenses of Spanish-language and English-language News Media.” Academia.edu. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2016. 425-439

[6] @The_Stripes_. “The Misrepresented and Hypersexualized Latina.” The Stripes. N.p., 21 Feb. 2014. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.

[7] Correa, Teresa. “Framing Latinas: Hispanic Women through the Lenses of Spanish-language and English-language News Media.” Academia.edu. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2016. 425-439

[8]  Alanis, By Juan. “Ay, Ay, Ay, Consuela!! – Should We Love Her or Hate Her? “Juan of Words. N.p., 15 Feb. 2013. Web. 26 Sept. 2016.

[9] Padgett, Kenneth. “Brownface! – The History of Racist Latino/Hispanic Stereotypes.” Brownface! – The History of Racist Latino/Hispanic Stereotypes. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.

[10] Benedetti, Ana Maria. “Salma Hayek Wants To Change How Latinos Are Perceived In The US.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2016.

[11] Reichard, Raquel. “7 Lies We Have to Stop Telling About Latina Women in America.” Mic. N.p., 25 Oct. 2015. Web. 26 Sept. 2016.

[12] Correa, Teresa. “Framing Latinas: Hispanic Women through the Lenses of Spanish-language and English-language News Media.” Academia.edu. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2016. 425-439

[13] Reporter, Daily Mail. “Eva Longoria’s New Show Devious Maids Is Accused of Portraying Latino Women in ‘degrading’ Stereotypical Roles.” Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 21 June 2013. Web. 27 Sept. 2016.

 

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