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The Gender of Latinidad : Latinas Speak About Hispanic Television

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There is a lack of information on how Latinas consume popular culture in general and how they interact and respond to Spanish-language media in particular. Studies on representation and stereotyping in the Spanish-language media as well as audience research within the Latino community are recent phenomena in the Latino media scholarship. This article examines how a group of 27 immigrant and nonimmigrant Latinas from the city of Austin, Texas, evaluate and negotiate women's representations in Univision and Telemundo, the two largest Hispanic networks in the United States. Women of diverse income levels participated in a series of 1 to 3 in-depth interviews between 1999 and 2002. The main focus of the study is on the respondents' evaluations of gender, race and class representations in the talk shows El Show de Cristina and Laura en América. Interview transcripts reflected Latinas' ambivalent and conflicted relationship with the television programs. Latinas felt attacked, insulted, offended and embarrassed by women's portrayals in certain entertainment and humor shows. The respondents used their criticism of women's sexualization on Spanish-language television as a strategy to escape labels and stereotypes ascribed to Latinos by the majority groups. Women used class as a marker of difference and distinction among different groups of Latinas. They also challenged the concept of Latino cultural unity—Latinidad—so promoted by the networks and in general disagreed with Cristina and Laura's declared philosophy of Latino empowerment. Two concepts emerged from the relationship Latinas experienced with the Hispanic TV: ambivalence and distinction. These results are discussed in terms of Pierre Bourdieu's theory of practice.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Communication, The University of Texas at San Antonio

Publication date: 01 April 2004

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