March is the month to celebrate women and Chicano Student Programs (CSP) is one organization that sets aside a week in March to honor women, and the contributions of Chicanas and Latinas, also known as Semana de la Mujer.
One of the organizers and committee members, fifth-year political science and ethnic studies major Cynthia Chavez shared how these weeklong events are held to influence and encourage Latina women and also women all over the world to speak their minds without fear. “It is important not only for Latina women but for all women to get together and share experiences and to be able to speak their narratives as college students,” Chavez stated.
This year the theme was “cada hebra una historia, cada trenza de un enlace” meaning “every strand a story, every braid a bond.” The events began Feb. 28 with a conference and ended March 6 with a victorious talk of womanhood. In between there were heart-felt monologues, basket-weaving bonding time and many girl talks. A very special discussion was held March 4 with the talented playwright Josefina Lopez.
Wednesday evening, a good handful gathered in a huge room to listen to Lopez. Light refreshments and appetizing snacks such as nachos and chocolate-covered strawberries stirred up the crowd while waiting for the talk to begin. The lively music died down and every individual grabbed a seat.
What was anticipated as a formal conversation was actually a comedy act. Lopez left the audience in awe. As soon as she took the podium, she had the crowd laughing nonstop with her very blunt and carefree jokes. Lopez is mostly known for her play “Real Women Have Curves,” published in 1996, about a young woman who is undocumented but has an urge to get educated and succeed in life. However, her family has a completely different mentality concerning her big dreams and want her to conform to the life she currently has. Another of her inspirational writings is “Detained in the Desert,” performed at UCR in 2011. Both plays were converted into movies. Before getting down to the nitty-gritty of her life, Lopez shared clips of the movies and then showed some of her own personal acting scenes from an old show known as “Culture Clash,” which was quite humorous.
“I decided to give myself permission to be angry,” Lopez said as she gulped back some tears. Lopez began by sharing where she came from and what it took for her to become the woman she is today. Growing up, she did not have many opportunities and was forced to work with her family in a small sewing company. After a few years of struggling, she managed to get an education and is now a successful writer. It was an emotional yet inspirational story that touched the hearts of many members in the audience as they sniffed and wiped their eyes. Lopez stated how her play “Real Women Have Curves” is actually a resemblance of her life story. Acknowledging pain is what influenced her to begin writing.
“Being overweight, Mexican and undocumented was a good thing … I started writing ‘Real Women Have Curves’ because I started loving myself,” Lopez shared, tears streaming down her face.
After illustrating her beautiful hardships, the down-to-earth Lopez allowed the audience to ask her as many questions as they wanted. The crowd wanted to hear more but unfortunately time was up. However, as soon as she came down from the stage, many rushed to buy a book, a shirt or a sticker to get it signed by her. I was intrigued by her work so of course I had to buy one of her books.
CSP, as well as Lopez, hope to have touched at least one heart throughout the weeklong events. Semana de la Mujer is held annually, but women should celebrate themselves every day.
“I want women to know that they are already powerful, in fact women are so powerful that we scare the crap out of men,” Lopez shared strongly.