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This article originally appeared on AlterNet. If you were to believe your television, you'd think all Latinas are immaculately dressed spitfires or docile maids. When it comes to Latino people—especially women—it's as if the TV got stuck in the s. While these identities are not in themselves wrong or harmful, the problem lies in the fact that these are the only portrayals people are exposed to. Some of us actually like hoop-earrings and tight-fitting leopard-print skirts.

Some of us are hardworking maids. Some of us are highly educated. Some of us are sexually assertive. Some of us don't like sex at all. Like everyone else, we're human beings with myriad complex experiences, desires and identities. Some may argue that it's only TV, so why make such a fuss?

Inevitably, exposure to these kinds of roles will influence real life. The report also found that although non-Latinos, for the most part, report having regular interaction with Latinos 44 percent on a daily basisand being familiar with Latino culture 74 percent say they are somewhat or very familiaronly 30 percent say they personally know many Latinos 27 percent know two or fewer.

More than a third 38 percent interact with Latinos once a month. Impressionable people, those lacking critical-thinking skills and those who don't have any Latino friends are susceptible to these misconceptions. These expectations are not only irritating, they are dehumanizing and exhausting. I mean, how can all women from 21 countries, including the United States, all have the same sexual identities?

Let's stop thinking in binaries, people. We're exotic. What amuses me about this one is it sounds as if we're rare jungle creatures. I once had a fellow ask me where I was from because I had a "very exotic nose. Kat Lazo, a Colombian and Peruvian feminist media activist, shared with me her experience of being the only Latina in her white neighborhood.

According to the U. Census Bureau population estimatesroughly 52 million Hispanics live in the United States, representing approximately That makes people of Hispanic origin the nation's largest ethnic or race minority. The U. Hispanic population for July 1, is estimated to reach How exotic are we, really? Does "exotic" simply mean non-white because white is the default?

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Fellas, don't ever, ever use that word to refer to anyone. We're hypersexual. Because we come from such hot exotic climes, Latinas and black women please note that some Latinas are also black are expected to want sex around the clock. Doesn't matter when or where, we just can't help ourselves! Lifetime's "Devious Maids" has been justifiably eviscerated left and right for that very reason.

The way they managed to cram so many stereotypes into one show nearly makes my head explode. Dior Vargas, a Latina feminist activist, has seen this expectation play out in her professional life.

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In a job, she was the only Latina on her team. When all the men she worked with began hitting on her, she felt it was because they assumed she was promiscuous. She says it's even worse for her sister. Unfortunately, this pigeon-hole doesn't only affect the way others perceive us, it also influences the way we view ourselves.

Even knowing that these portrayals are ridiculous, some of us may also fall into the trap. The media is that powerful. Not only that, what if you choose to be sexually assertive but then have that stifling stereotype always hovering over you? This mistaken belief can really mess with our psyches, so please let's all just let it die. We're all biologically the same, so Latinas obviously don't have a higher propensity for sex. We're submissive. If we're not fiery vixens trying to have sex with everyone in our path, then we must be docile and God-fearing asexual women.

Latinas are becoming more educated and empowered than ever, yet this stereotype is still prevalent. Why is it then that the late Lupe Ontiveros had to play a maid more than times? Part of the submissive stereotype is the idea that we're all pious Catholic girls who are either afraid of sex or willing to serve men's needs. But guess what? We're losing our religion. Over the last five years, Hispanics have become less likely to identify as Catholic. Though some have converted to Protestantism, some heathens like me and many women I know are not religious at all.

We'll speak Spanish to you in bed. I'm not really sure where this comes from, but I suspect this assumption would make most Latinas shudder.

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Plus, not all Latinas speak Spanish. According to Pew Research Centertoday, three-fourths of all Hispanics ages five and older speak Spanish. However, that share is projected to fall to about two-thirds in We're voluptuous. Like many people, I can't deny that J. The problem is that whenever we see Latinas in the media, they are almost all conventionally attractive and European-looking.

Latinas, like all women, come in an endless variety of shapes, sizes and colors. If you were to watch telenovelasyou'd also probably believe all Latinas are fair-skinned except for the servants, of course. According to the Project on Ethnicity and Race in Latin America at Princetonhowever, based on available estimates, about 45 million of the million people in Latin America are indigenous and about 90 million million if we include Haiti are Afro-descendants.

It would be nice to see that diversity on the screen. We're straight and ultra-feminine.

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Nearly all the Latinas in the media dress in a way that is very conventionally feminine — high heels, makeup, hoop earrings, etc. There is nothing wrong with expressing femininity in this way, but this assumption can be a burden for Latinas who choose not to look this way.

Amy, who preferred not to use her last name, says this is frustrating to her as a queer Latina.

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I agree. Perpetually fulfilling this narrow definition of sexy can be a real drag. I certainly don't feel very alluring when I go to sleep wearing pimple cream and a mouth guard. Please don't expect us always to look like we just walked off the set of a telenovela. Amy also points out that there are very few roles on television for queer women of color.

This is fairly new territory. One of the few exceptions is the character of Dr. Torres played by Sara Ramirez on"Grey's Anatomy. The rest of Hollywood could learn a thing or two from Shonda Rhimes. Erika L. Sticky Header Night Mode. Related Articles. Trending Articles from Salon.

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