Some 84 million viewers watched the first Presidential Debate of the 2016 election season, where it was revealed that one candidate not only used “Miss Housekeeping” as an insult directed toward a Latina, in addition to “Miss Piggy” and “eating machine,” but continues to do so. In the days following the debate, the despicable fat-shaming has sparked outrage and devolved into slut-shaming. No one should have to endure bullying. But while it is absolutely disgraceful to see one woman bullied, we’ve largely ignored that Hispanics, more specifically, Hispanic women, were all the targets of the pejorative, “Miss Housekeeping.”
The choice to use “Miss Housekeeping” was a cheap barb that attempted to demean a Latina and insult her heritage and social class. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Hispanics represent 43% of maids and housekeepers in the United States. The implication was that this Latina was not worthy of the title of beauty queen and should remember where a rich, white man thinks she really belongs – cleaning his hotels.
When I heard this story, my thoughts immediately went to the women I know who work in housekeeping, some of whom are family. They are students trying to earn money for college, mothers trying to raise a family, women who need a second career because they cannot afford to retire. Latinas, yes, but more than that, they are proud, honest women who do this back-breaking, thankless work because they believe in the American Dream. They believe, just like all of us, that hard work and a steady course will lead to a better life for themselves and most especially for their children. The very fabric of our society was built - and kept clean ― by these honorable workers.
So Latinas across the country must examine how we process insults like this against one of our hermanas (sisters), regardless of her profession, immigration status or (subjective) morality. In this unprecedented election cycle, we need to stand up when we are called “rapists” and “criminals”. Hispanic women in the United States represent a powerful group of community influencers. We are community leaders, trusted sources of information, and advocates of equality. We are uniquely positioned to not only vote and speak with a strong voice, but we have the capacity to influence our communities to exercise their right to vote as well. Currently in the United States, a Latino turns 18 every 30 seconds and becomes eligible to vote. There are approximately 13 million Latinas eligible to vote in the 2016 election.
When we vote, should be inspired to vote for and with our community. Juntas.