Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Helena Rodriguez: Latin Women, Immigrants and Trump


July 7, 2015


Guest Columnist

Everyone knows by now that Donald Trump has upset many Hispanics/Latinos, the Spanish-language media and others who do business with him due to his derogatory remarks toward immigrants when he announced his candidacy for president.

Regarding immigrants, he said they “bring drugs and crime (to the U.S.) and are rapists.” For good measure, he added, “And some are good.”

As a result of these way-out-of-line remarks, Trump’s pageants were booted off of Univision and NBC. Also Spanish network Telemundo, owned by NBC, pulled a plug on Trump’s Spanish pageant reality TV show.

These were overgeneralized, racist remarks by Trump. However, instead of talking about the immigration issue, and I have a compassionate stance on that, I want to instead look at why pageants are important to Univision and why Univision is important to Trump.

The world isn’t going to suffer with one less beauty pageant, be it on NBC or Univision. But truth be told, pageants are extremely important in the Latin American world.

Latin America has dominated the Miss Universe pageant for decades. I read an article several years ago that said Hispanic women spend more money than African American and Anglo American women on their personal appearance (hair, makeup, clothes, etc.).

What does this pageantry, as well as the portrayal of women on Spanish TV say about their attitude toward Hispanic women? And how does this affect the social pressure that Hispanic women feel to look good?

I’ve written columns before about how I feel the Spanish novelas exploit and objectify women. But you also see it in Spanish TV news. If women news anchors, correspondents and even weather women are not showing cleavage above, then they are showing skin below with skirts and dresses so short you can see (even if you don’t want to) their legs up to their upper thighs.

About seven years ago, one study said Hispanic women were the fastest growing population of entrepreneurs in the U.S. and yet rarely does Spanish TV, or even English TV for that matter, portray Latinas in professional positions.

Most Spanish novelas have a Cinderella “poor-girl-meets-rich-man” plot. Even in the U.S., entertainers such as Jennifer Lopez are known for playing maids or victims of domestic violence and grab attention by wearing over-revealing gowns and stage attire.

The Spanish media has rightfully booted Trump out of their networks as has NBC. Trump has also been fired from his “Apprentice” show on NBC.

When it comes to immigration, I feel that immigrants, as well as refugees, should be treated with compassion and in a welcoming spirit. It is the right thing and the Christian thing to do.

However, my stance has toughened up just a bit over the past six or so years. While immigrants should not be expected to give up or be ashamed of their culture and just “melt in” to the U.S.A., I do believe they could show more patriotism toward the U.S. and should be encouraged to learn as much English as is possible, although I know that is not an easy thing to do.

Also, people with criminal histories should not be allowed to enter and there should be a fair way of granting citizenship to those who qualify, without allowing them to cut in front of the line, but also in some kind of reasonable fashion that does not harm families.

That is not something easy to do.

Getting back to my topic though, while others are using this as a time to talk about racism and immigration, I think it is also worth looking at this not just from the aspect of prejudice, but also pageantry and portrayal, as in the overall portrayal of Hispanic women.

With Trump’s string of mistresses, wives and divorces, one can speculate how he views women overall. With his derogatory comments toward immigrants, one doesn’t have to speculate how he views Latinos.

And with his crude comments, it was only right to dethrone him from network TV. But, myself not being a fan of pageants, I think Trump will probably sell his share of ownership of the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants and the shows will probably go on. I also think the Spanish language and English language media will continue to perpetuate oversexualized images of Hispanic women, until, just like they were forced to boot Trump for perpetuating negative stereotypes, they also are forced to stop perpetuating other types of negative stereotypes as well.

Helena Rodriguez is a Portales native. Contact her at: [email protected]


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