While the stereotype of the persistently pregnant Mexican-origin
woman is longstanding, in the past fifteen years her reproduction
has been targeted as a major social problem for the United States.
Due to fear-fueled news reports and public perceptions about the
changing composition of the nation's racial and ethnic makeup-the
so-called Latinization of America-the reproduction of Mexican
immigrant women has become a central theme in contemporary U. S.
politics since the early 1990s.
In this exploration, Elena R. Gutiérrez considers these public
stereotypes of Mexican American and Mexican immigrant women as
"hyper-fertile baby machines" who "breed like rabbits." She draws
on social constructionist perspectives to examine the historical
and sociopolitical evolution of these racial ideologies, and the
related beliefs that Mexican-origin families are unduly large and
that Mexican American and Mexican immigrant women do not use birth
Using the coercive sterilization of Mexican-origin women in Los
Angeles as a case study, Gutiérrez opens a dialogue on the racial
politics of reproduction, and how they have developed for women of
Mexican origin in the United States. She illustrates how the ways
we talk and think about reproduction are part of a system of racial
domination that shapes social policy and affects individual women's
Subjects: Political Science, Anthropology
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