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From Out Of The Shadows: Americanization Of Mexican American Women

1486 words - 6 pages

The Progressive Era is generally applied to a variety of responses to the economic and social problems to rapid industrialization introduced in America. Although the era can be narrowed down to focus on the history of Mexican American women living in the Southwest and Midwest of the United States between 1890 and 1919. Some of the events involved within in the Mexican community during the time were a variety of processes including restriction, deportation or Americanizing immigrants from Mexico. Women and their children were especially involved in some of the American groups trying to assimilate large numbers of the Mexican community. The history of Mexican American Women in the Southwest and Midwest is mentioned in detail in Vicki L. Ruiz's book From Out of the Shadows and also covers historical background of the author's relatives. Much of the Americanization of American Mexican women is marked on how they were affected by Houchen's attempts to assimilate them and their families in positive and negative ways along with social pressures leading to resistance. Some examples that cover the details of integration of Mexican women in American society are how Houchen has helped their families and themselves. However a few the negative aspects are covered, such as idealizations of American life only to be faced with issues regarding racial and gender a discrimination.

A few reasons why women and children were often targeted by settlement houses and mainly the Rose Gregory Houchen settlement located in El Paso, Texas due to the notion women were the foundation of the family. The settlements also served as a Methodist church to the community and the majority of Mexican communities were mainly Catholic. So most of their reasons to convert the Mexican communities was due to the paganism and superstition surrounding Catholicism. Also, it was certain that "to educate a woman and you educate a family" meant housewives often held an important role in the household (Adelante Mujeres!). Housewives also played a major role in converting the Mexican community in more quickly because women often held the family and instilled values to their children. For Methodist religious workers, they hoped to share their beliefs and encourage women along with their families to become part of their church because “they perceived themselves as harbingers of salvation” (37). Believing they would save families similarly with Franciscan missionaries who tried to convert the indigenous tribes Spain's colonization in South American areas, they attempted to bring them into a better life style. This also meant better hygiene habits were taught for the woman and her family. As a result some women became conflicted with trying to find a way to live a life of being non-Catholic while trying to maintain their Mexican cultural affinities. Those who have became Methodist found it hard to be accepted within their community because most strived to remain Catholics despite what the...

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