Side Dishes: Latina American Women, Sex, and Cultural Production

Side Dishes: Latina American Women, Sex, and Cultural Production

Side Dishes: Latina American Women, Sex, and Cultural Production

Side Dishes: Latina American Women, Sex, and Cultural Production


Moving beyond the "main dishes" of traditional literary works, Side Dishes offers a provocative and delicious new understanding of Latin American women's authorship and activism. The book illuminates a wealth of creative and intellectual work by Latin American women--editors, directors, cartoonists, academics, performance artists, and comedians--and explores them in light of their treatment of women's sexuality.

Side Dishes considers feminist pornography and literary representations of masturbation, bisexuality, lesbianism, and sexual fantasies; the treatment of lust in stand-up comedy and science fiction; critical issues in leading feminist journals; and portrayals of sexuality in four contemporary Latin American films. Melissa A. Fitch concludes with a look at the rise of women's and gender studies programs in Latin America.


I admit it. I was hungry. After sitting at the dinner table, staring at the familiar meal set before me, a steady diet of canonical texts by Latin American and Latina women, I craved something different. I needed something beyond the same female novelists, playwrights, poets, and testimonial voices routinely found in courses on Women’s Writing in Latin/o America. But what are the dietary restrictions of the discipline that keep us from conceptualizing other possibilities for understanding women’s cultural production and consumption in the region, for bringing other voices, as it were, to the table?

In Side Dishes, I argue that there is a need to broaden our understanding of Latin American and Latina women’s cultural narratives and notions of authorship and activism to move beyond the “main dish” that is the traditional corpus of works. It must be clarified that efforts to offer a more varied intellectual fare are constrained by the political economy of cultural commodities: the canon of Latin American women’s writing will necessarily be limited and restricted by the circulation of texts. We end up using in our courses only those cultural artifacts that are already easily available in their ready-to-buy form, be it a book or DVD. A large part of this commodification takes place outside of Latin America and oftentimes in the United States and, as such, it is subject to the ever-changing U.S. cultural market.

This book includes myriad cultural artifacts and heretofore-understudied themes, almost all of which show a greater focus on the cultural narratives of everyday life. A “dish” was a slang term common in the first half of the twentieth century used to describe an attractive woman, so the book’s title plays with this double meaning. The individuals included in Side Dishes are, quite literally, the women on the side of traditional academic fare.

The first answer to my what-is-missing question was smut. Where are the Latin American or Latina women who are producing texts, films or Web sites . . .

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