An Intersectional Feminist Analysis of the Sexual Shaming Problematic from a Latin-American Perspective

Term Paper, 2021

18 Pages, Grade: 1,3


Table of Contents

1. Introduction
1.1 General Introduction
1.2 Key concepts: Intersectionality and Intersectional Feminism
1.3 Intersectionality in children and young adult literature

2. Multi-layered dimensions of culture, gender, race
2.1 Intersectional Identities
2.2 A Latin-American perspective: the Latino postcolonial baggage

3. Sexuality and Shame in The Poet X

4. Conclusions

5. References

1. Introduction

1.1 General Introduction

The concept of identity search, representation and empowerment is indeed not a new notion in literature, but it is nevertheless a significant and influential approach on the topic of child and young adult literature, particularly for young girls and women, where feminist approaches have been constantly on the rise. Feminism has been increasingly gaining exposure in recent years as a theory that advocates equality between women and men, since it identifies and acknowledges the oppression to which women have been subjected and strives to empower them in all corresponding aspects of their lives. However, women’s experiences and circumstances around the globe are so different and varied that it is not possible for a sole approach to accommodate for everyone; this shortage in general feminism gave birth to intersectionality. Intersectionality theory emerged from black feminism movements in the United Stated in the 1980s, where Kimberlé Crenshaw stated that contemporary feminism and anti-racist movements did not take into account the interactions between race and patriarchy and that an approach that analyzed these intersections was needed (Busquier, 2018). Therefore, intersectional feminism is a form of feminism that studies combined different forms of oppression such as race, sexism, culture, class, etc., their influence on women’s situation and their impact on their experience regarding oppression and discrimination (Janani, Sruthi, & Manasa V Akshitha N, 2018).

Thus, intersectionality has been studied in feminist spheres with intersecting categories, including those related to the Latin-American context. In this sector, issues such as colonialism effects and eurocentrism have been addressed, as they are significant in order to more truly understand this sphere from a non-European or non-Western point of view. It has been argued by Latinoamerican intersectionality authors that eurocentric feminism is not enough to comprehend the reality and peculiarities of Latino women and Latino feminism, problematics that tend to be generalized by western feminism discourses and for which Latino women’s own voice is needed (Busquier, 20018). In this sense, feminist young adult intersectional literature in connection with this Latino context also play an important role. The Poet X written by Elizabeth Acevedo is a novel that explores themes such as identity exploration, gender, race, sexuality and shame, as well as empowerment and emancipation, merged in the context of catholic religion, adolescence and a Latino cultural heritage, featuring a protagonist that has to deal and find meaning in the various diverse dimensions of her identity along the way and express herself as a complete person.

This paper aims to provide an analysis and deconstruction of the corresponding dimensions described above to investigate the extent of the influence of the Latino heteropatriarchy-oriented consciousness in the problematic regarding sexuality and shame represented in The Poet X, while using an intersectional feminist approach and from a Latin-American perspective that takes into account the power relations, cultural norms and religion pressure inherited from the colonialism movement. Accordingly, in the next sections the key concepts of intersectional feminism and the role of intersectionality in children and young adult literature will be discussed more in detail. Subsequently, the second chapter will deal with the analysis of the dimensions of culture, gender and race and their role in an intersectional identity, as well as the explanation for the Latino colonial background and its effects on women’s lives. Then, mainly focusing on the protagonist Xiomara and her mother Mami, chapter three will explore the core subjects of the construction and perception of the female body, lack of sex dialogue and sexism in the family environment, and the forms of sexual empowerment and emancipation in the story, after which the conclusions will be presented.

1.2 Key concepts: Intersectionality and Intersectional Feminism

The term intersectionality, born from the struggle in the Black women feminist movements in the 80s, appeared as a response to the very first needs to address and acknowledge the multidimensional positions and differences among women. As from that moment, intersectionality has not only been used in gender studies, but it has also been a major component used in diverse fields such as sociology, psychology, education, anthropology, political sciences, literary studies, among other subdisciplines, as a means to comprehend different social issues by focusing on the intersection between the multiple categories and the influence that they have across each other, as well as the effect on power relations and structures in society that may be the cause for inequality or discrimination (Lutz, 2015). Thus, it can be said that intersectionality does not conceive the existence of a single category as isolated, but assumes from the beginning that the category, for example, gender, is complicated and only can be understood within its interactions with other aspects.

This usefulness of intersectionality can be applied also in many different manners and caanot always be effortlessly applied. As Lutz (2015) explains, some consider the concept a method that is particularly appropriate in order to distinguish many diverse lines of inequality that may seem invisible or undetectable at first sight, which can be the case if many levels overlap and are analyzed at the same time, for which different intersectional levels of analysis would be effective to consider the power contexts, and this requires careful management and interpretation. Although the most analyzed categories are usually class, gender and race, some researchers have also identified a greater number of other different categories such as gender, sexuality, race or skin color, ethnicity, nationality, class, culture, health condition, age, origin, location, among others (Benner, 2016). Therefore, it is not surprising to observe that intersectional feminism has the potential to actively deconstruct individual’s multiple identities and provide support in transforming oppressive processes and discourses in order to let women embrace their intersectional identity and finally empower them against inequality and discriminatory structures (Lutz, 2015). Such use of intersectional feminism can also be observed in many significant and influential areas such as children and young adult literature.

1.3 Intersectionality in children and young adult literature

Although intersectionality has been increasingly applied in various other disciplines, its connection with children and young adult literature seems to still be superficial and few research has linked these two areas for the development of explicit intersectional perspectives. In this regard, the association between intersectional theory and its significance for research in children and young adult literature has not been explored intensively (Benner, 2016). However, there are still some intersectionality aspects that are particularly interesting in respect to children and young adult literature, such as the particular category of age, be it within age or generational groups concerning children or adolescents or young adults, where certain subsystems and overlaps between this and other categories seem to be particular to and more frequent for this sort of literature. Also, considering the recipients of such literature, even the educational aims and effects are to be contemplated (Benner, 2016).

Likewise, another aspect that may have been neglected regarding the relationship between intersectional theory and children and young adult literature is women representation linked to a cultural, racial and ethnicity context. It may be evident that most research is composed of European or American works, but literary works from authors with different background and in association with other cultural contexts are also being written for women representation, such as is the example of The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, where categories particular to this framework and their interactions are highlighted and evidenced in the literary work. In this regard, The Poet X as a literary work for teenagers and young adults provides an intersectional insight on themes such as gender, race, culture, religion, age, sexuality and sexism from the unique perspective of the Latino inherited consciousness with different power dynamics and dominant hierarchies to expose the characters’ struggle from these impositions.

2. Multi-layered dimensions of culture, gender, race

2.1 Intersectional Identities

In view of the many diverse category that can be managed by intersectionality, it is not surprising to arrive to the concept of an intersectional identity, since intersectionality is able to render visible the various exclusion and subordination structures, i.e., the multiple identities that constitute an intersectional identity. Furthermore, research on intersectional identities seeks to permanently consider the diverse interactions during the normal identity development of individuals during their lives, although the research methods for these investigations has proven to be difficult due to the same complex fact that people constantly find themselves within several categories simultaneously (Azmitia & Thomas, 2015). However, due to this reason it is also possible to explore the individual’s constant and flexible self-negotiation of their multiple identities through intersectional analysis instead of only focusing on how categories such as race, sexism and class create an inequality that affects and determines the individual’s identity (Lutz, 2015).

On this same line of thought, it can be said that the diverse categories and axes are intertwined and shed light over the different power relations or structures interconnected with the many diversity issues that could be present in women’s social lives, making social division caused by these categories visible. However, although intersectionality was conceived as a theory that should consider all potential categories and contexts without being confined to only European discourses, it seems that from several categories mentioned above much research has focused actually on the fixed set of gender, race and class. This can initially be seen as a limitation since other categories are equally significant and even mandatory for a comprehensive analysis and understanding of the intersectional identity as a whole such as sexuality, religion or body, but nonetheless such an analysis involving a greater number of categories can already prove to be very difficult, so the restriction is mostly due to pragmatic reasons (Benner, 2016).


Excerpt out of 18 pages


An Intersectional Feminist Analysis of the Sexual Shaming Problematic from a Latin-American Perspective
University of Frankfurt (Main)
Feminismus und Kinder- und Jugendliteratur
Catalog Number
ISBN (Book)
Kommentar des Dozenten: Sie ist sehr gut, zeigt starke analytische Fähigkeiten und eine sehr gute Anwendung komplexer theoretischer Zugriffe auf den Gegenstand. Insbesondere gefällt mir die klare, theoretisch fundierte Schwerpunktsetzung und Ihr sehr genauer Blick für textuelle Verhandlungen intersektionaler Identitäten und Diskriminierungserfahrungen.
intersectional feminism, young adult literature, latin america, sexual shaming
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Carla Espinoza (Author), 2021, An Intersectional Feminist Analysis of the Sexual Shaming Problematic from a Latin-American Perspective, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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