Women’s perspective (Anaid Gonzales)

Pachucas

As the name suggests, a “Pachuca” was ultimately a female version of the zoot suit wearing pachucos. But upon closer examination there are clear differences between the women and the men who participated in the events that unfolded during the 1943 zoot suit riots. There were many similarities between the men and women who took part in the riots, for example the slang that they used, “caló”, was used between both of them. The women who chose to be labeled as pachucas were often ridiculed for their decisions. They were thought to be extremely unladylike and inappropriate while using the slang. The other girls at this time strived to be seen as “pure” and “innocent” wearing long skirts and sweater. Pachucas drew attention to themselves with their appearance because they did not want to be labeled as inferior because they were Hispanic. The outfits they wore signified how confident they were, they had had shorter skirts, dark makeup, “finger-tip” leather jackets, and some even had tattoos.

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Famous Pachucas

Amelia Venegas was a 22 year old mother left to care for her child. Her husband was a sailor and was not around, this left her to defend herself. One day while walking in East Los Angeles after her picking up milk for herself and her baby she found a pair of brass knuckles on the ground. She did not use those brass knuckles for a few months until she witnessed policemen harassing a group of zoot suiters. She began yelling at the policemen who took her into custody and found the brass knuckles on her, she was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon. Her image was then used to signify the extent of the zoot suiters, reporters expressed that the issue was so bad that even women were breaking the law and not cooperating. Bertha Aguilar had witnessed the Sleepy Lagoon events but when she was called up to court she did not say anything at all because she did not want to jeopardize the safety of her fellow Hispanics. Her actions were not enjoyed by the court but the pachucos were grateful that she did not share any important information. Along with these two women, eight others were also brought to court. Their ages ranged from thirty to twenty one and after the trial was completed almost all of the girls found themselves placed in Ventura School for Girls, since the court had come to the conclusion that they needed to be placed in a correctional facility.

  1. Los Angeles: 34.054908, -118.244345
  2. Ventura School for Girls, Ventura, CA 93001, 34.307192, -119.283157
  3. East Los Angeles (34.020721, -118.165988)

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