Viviana Hurtado (left), Miriam Zoila Perez, (center) and Claudia Calvin (right) led a panel on advocacy blogging and the importance for Latinas to have their voices heard online and in media. (Adrian Carrasquillo)

Latina bloggers draw attention to the urgency of amplifying women’s voices

Latina bloggers at the BlogHer ’12 national conference in New York City, where 5,000 women bloggers from across the country came together, exhorted women in the audience to raise their voices and understand the level at which female points of view are not being heard.

“Silence maintains the status quo,” says Claudia Calvin, of Mujeres Construyendo (women building), a community of Spanish-language bloggers.

The women drew attention to both the dearth of Latina voices and the uneven distribution of a woman’s point of view in the media.

Miriam Zoila Perez, the founder of Radical Doula, mentioned the Op-ed Project, whose mission is to increase the number of women thought leaders in key commentary forums.

“The project found that 12 percent of op-eds are written by women and 2 percent are written by women of color,” she says.

Perez added that it wasn’t just sexism by editors who choose to publish op-ed columns by men. Men submit 80 percent of op-ed columns, while women only submit 20 percent of them. Perez message is women need to want to be heard as well.

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Viviana Hurtado, the founder of The Wise Latina Club, recalled the congressional hearings to confirm eventual Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. She was offended by the way Sotomayor was spoken to, particularly when GOP senator Tom Coburn  of Oklahoma joked that Sotomayor would have some “‘splaining to do,” invoking the famous line by Desi Arnaz in “I Love Lucy.”

“I thought to myself, why is it that my voice, as a U.S.-educated Latina, who is proud of the ties to my background, not being heard on this?” Hurtado says.

Recalling a survey of women bloggers, Calvin explained how women benefit when their voices are amplified.

“Blogs empower women,” Calvin says. “We found that 70 percent of our bloggers said their self-esteem went up from writing.”

Perez underscored the importance of Latinas getting their point of view out there, especially to counter what she sees as a prevailing habit of narrowing the reach of Latina voices.

“It seems like Latinas can only be experts on Latina issues,” she says. “White men can be experts on anything.”

Hurtado said drawing a line in the sand now can increase Hispanic women’s voices on issues other than immigration.

“We have homes, so we care about the foreclosure crisis — we have kids, so we care about education,” she says.

“The Latina woman is complex and smart and sexy and passionate about politics and her community, not just Carmen Miranda with a fruit bowl on her head.”

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