Dear SNL: You should learn about #latinafeminism

Strong grabs her "weak" boyfriend's arm while sitting at the jewelry party.

(Image via Latina Magazine)

To Lorne Michaels,

I am writing with regards to this past week’s SNL skit “Jewelry Party,” in which Lena Dunham and Cecily Strong explained on national television what a Men’s Rights Activist is in a pathetic attempt to commemorate International Women’s Day and hop on that trendy feminist wagon.

Here in the feminist blogosphere we have a saying, coined by Flavia Dzodan, that goes like this: “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.” Here’s a version you might understand: My feminism will at the absolute minimum not be blatantly racist or it will be bullshit. And sir, your “feminism” is bullshit. 

Saturday Night Live has already received extensive criticism for its lack of diversity, being mostly made up of white men. Though you may have recently hired your first black woman to the cast in years, things are still not going well. Your show has NEVER had a Latina cast member and the only Latina characters ever portrayed on the show have been played by Strong, who is not Latina.

In “Jewelry Party,” Strong’s character Marisol plays the most stereotypical Latina you can imagine. She’s sexy and tropically dressed, has a thick accent, terrible grammar, and is pretty unintelligent. She was brought to the United States by her sad, wealthy boyfriend who she is not attracted to. Luckily, she is only with him for the documents, money, or other material goods he can provide her. Sound familiar? That’s because these stereotypes are so old, it’s BORING.

In the skit, a group of women and one man are sitting around a couch when they realize that Marisol’s boyfriend — unbeknownst to her — is a Men’s Rights Activist who has shut down Planned Parenthood and fights against equal pay for men and women. All the white women in the room are appropriately horrified, while ignorant Marisol continues to brag about her boyfriend until Lena Dunham patronizingly pats her on the shoulder and explains why Planned Parenthood is a good thing for women.

Dearest Lorne: feminism is not only about white women’s issues. White women are not the only people who can be feminists. White women did not start feminism, nor do they alone define it.

Latinas like Marisol have been doing the whole feminist thing for just as long as white women. And they are “feministing” just as hard right now. If you want good content on feminism and Latinas, learn about women fasting for fair immigration reform for women and their families, or indigenous women fighting neoliberalism in Mexico or Latinas working for reproductive justice for their communities.

There are also plenty of Latinas who are funny people. If you invited them onto your show to play themselves, you might not be in this mess in the first place.

Sincerely,
Juliana

Related:
SNL has never had a Latina cast member
Flashers, sexual violence, and racism: SNL’s new cast members, Sasheer Zamata takes on serious issues
That one time SNL pretended to care about diversity

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Juliana simply cannot believe this skit was made in 2014.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted March 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I understand the complaint. But the author missed the point of the skit. The Latin woman played by Strong quickly figures out the B.S. underlying the so-called men’s rights movement. Are comedic characters supposed to be politically correct archetypes?

    • Posted March 14, 2014 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      Yeah this is a total misread of the skit. Marisol wasn’t stupid, she was just a recent immigrant who didn’t really speak English all that well so it was easy for her boyfriend to manipulate her into not understanding what he really does for a living. It’s not “stupid” for a person who grew up outside the US to not know what Planned Parenthood is. As soon as her friends explained to her what his work really consisted of, she dumped him.

      I agree this would have come across less racist if she weren’t a white woman playing a different ethnicity — they could have easily made her a white woman from some non-English-speaking country in Europe or something and still kept the same premise of the bit — but the author of this post really overread the situation here.

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