Last night, Lifetime premiered “Devious Maids,” a show that earned well-deserved backlash for perpetuating the stereotype of Latinas as exotic servants.

Latinas took to social media to slam the show, recalling how they grew up yearning to see Latinas on TV portrayed as something other than maids, restaurant workers, and criminals. Now in our adulthood, it is our daughters and nieces being exposed to these same images.

The difference is that we can’t just write this off as the “white powers-that-be” in mainstream media not getting our culture and experiences. The executive producer is none other than Eva Longoria, who ironically just earned her master’s degree in Chicano Studies. Two of the writers are Latinas, including a Chicago Latina theater trailblazer who once said that one thing she would change about theater is adding “Multiple voices and perspectives. Hybridity. Respect for our complex identities.” Now she has convinced herself that a show on hypersexualized Latina servitude is pioneering. The most puzzling aspect is that these Latinas are like you and me, products of our shared experiences in the United States. Latinas who, at one time, longed to tell all Latinas’ stories.

And now they are only focusing on one, that of a fiery, seductive maid. That story which dismisses our complex, diverse experiences as Latinas and adds that all-too-familiar weight to our daughters’ shoulders, that weight we carry as we try to prove to the world that we are more than this.

And indeed we are so much more.

To counter these images and honor the role models in our community, Gozamos is launching #NotDeviousMaids campaign. We will celebrate famous and everyday Latinas like you. We will honor our accomplishments and give facts about who Latinas are and how we’re impacting this world. We’re here to tell the world, “We are not your servants.”

To be featured in the campaign, send a brief bio and picture to hola[at]gozamos.com.

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Published by Luz Chavez

Luz Chávez is a founding member of Gozamos, an online arts and activism magazine for Latin@ millennials launched in 2010. With strong female and queer representation in its leadership, Gozamos is one of the few Latin@ magazines dedicated to fighting the -isms Latin@s face in and out of our communities. Gozamos is based at Cultura in Pilsen, an art gallery and community space, that Luz co-manages. She also co-founded two of Gozamos's community initiatives, Chicago Latino Writers Initiative and Latin@ Techies, co-organizing first-of-a-kind events in Chicago, such as the Latin@ Hackathon, Bilingual Tech Fair, and an online directory of emerging and experienced Latin@ writers in Chicago. By day, Luz continues her 15-year career in educational publishing.

7 replies on “#NotDeviousMaids Campaign”

  1. A house divided cannot stand. How can we use the opportunity of having a show starring Latina actors where the show will hire Latina writers and get them into the WGA as they did with the aforementioned playwright to move us forward onto projects that might feel nearer and dearer to our hearts? Killing the show is not progress. Remember when we all killed Luis Valdez’s film career when he cast a non-Latina to play Frida after his hit La Bamba. We were so successful in our efforts (the film never happened) because we were all so pissed off. We lost an opportunity for ourselves with Luis leading the way. Let’s play it smart this time. Learn from the past. Unite and conquer.

  2. I agree with Elaine. We can not be divided! As a Latina TV Executive and someone who hopes to go into writing one day I have to say that this all seems so misguided. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the general note here. I, too, grew up wanting to see Latina Role Models on TV. But having watched the show I have to say that all of the women seem smart, are kind and seem hard-working plus it’s a telenovela in English. I just don’t see what people are freaking out about. I wish, as a people, we could sometimes unite more. Now, I don’t think this show is anything special but, like Saracho, I think that five leads on a TV show that are Latina is huge and could pave the way for more! Plus, as an Exec. you really need to lay off this writer. For those in the know, Mark Cherry is a force. I am sure she is really talented and that she was able to influence things but you never know that much. These rooms have a hierarchy and she may have been a body among 8-12 writers that was mostly silent. No one should come down on this young woman. The real win, perhaps, is that someone like her (Latina, Educated, An accomplished Playwright) is entering the TV world. Her entrance is good for the future of TV. And that should be celebrated.

  3. I think we should be supportive with the show. Being a maid is not disrespectful is a fact in reality. I personally grew up with four sisters. And I’m proud of being Latino. I totally disagree that some of you take it so personally. It’s a show that is suppose to be joyful and enjoyable. At the same time is the first show with a full casting of Latinas and a great story line. And I just have to ask leaving behind the sexual roles. Is it because they are maids and some of them show true dreams, does that mean that the shorties shouldn’t being told?

  4. Hi Felipe, Thanks for the comment. Check out my response to Vanessa above. The issue is not about the job of a maid, it’s that media refuses to portray us beyond that. Consider actress Lupe Ontiveros who played a maid over 150 times and said that she hoped the next generation of Latinas would be given broader roles. Now here’s a show featuring five Latinas and all five are casted as maids and the whole premise of the show is about being a sexy servant. Really, it’s just amazingly ridiculous and offensive to me. We deserve and should demand more than that.

  5. I have not watched the show, but are any of the employers of the maids Hispanic? As a successful Latina business owner with no trace of an accent, I would be more inclined to watch if more of these Latinas were more like me.

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