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Conversation with Ana Nogales

ana nogalesAna Nogales, PhD, is one of the most accomplished Latinas in the United States. Her reputation comes from her commitment to and the orientation of her practice: Los Latinos, their relationships, their problems, and their needs within this great web of cultures that is the United States of America. Dr. Nogales immigrated to the United States from Argentina in 1979. After completing her doctorate degree in psychology, she opened her private practice in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, supervising a clinical program for fifteen professionals in mental health since 1982. As a clinical psychologist and founder of Nogales Psychological Counseling, Inc., she has dedicated herself to helping members of the Latino community improve their mental and emotional health.

She is also the founder and Clinical Director of the nonprofit organization, Casa de la Familia, established for victims of crime, such as rape, sexual assault, child sexual and physical abuse, and domestic violence. She is also the President of ALMA, Association for Latino Mental Health Awareness in Orange County, dedicated to erradicating the stigma of mental illness. Currently, Dr. Nogales sits on the board of the California Women's Commision on Addictions as the President, and at Las Comadres para las Americas.

Dr. Nogales began her career in media in 1980, at Univision, Channel 34, with a regular weekly segment entitled Ella y Él at Mundo Latino. Her own radio (830 am, La Voz), and television (Channel 22, Los Angeles) talk shows, Aquí Entre Nos (Just Between Us) established her as a household name throughout the Latino community. Dr. Nogales also had a regular segment Solo Para Adultos, in the News, on Univision, Channel 34 and at KLVE Radio, Univision. She participated in many other radio and TV shows throughout the United States.

In addition to the weekly column she has written for the last sixteen years in La Opinión (Los Angeles), the country's #1 Spanish language newspaper, and La Raza (Chicago) and La Prensa (New York), and her bi-monthly column in the magazine Para Todos, Dr. Nogales was an online columnist for the international Spanish-Language Salud.Com as well as Solo Ellas.com a bilingual Spanish/English website for Latinas.

In 1998 she wrote Dr. Ana Nogales' Book on Love, Sex and Relationships, A Guide for the Latino Couple, co-authored with Laura Golden Bellotti, the first book to address the specific needs and idiosyncrasies of Latino Couples. Dr. Nogales teamed up again in 2003 with Laura Golden Bellotti and wrote Latina Power! Using the Seven Strengths you Already Have to Create the Success You Deserve. She speaks and leads workshops internationally, and has been interviewed by the Los Angeles Times, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Latina, Latina Style, Estylo, People en Español, and other periodicals. She participated on a panel of ten prominent relationship experts in Redbook magazine's special feature on "Marriage and the Family for the New Millennium".

The recipient of many awards, Dr. Nogales is committed to condemning racism and discrimination, and has been appointed to the APA Presidential Virtual Working Group on Anti-Semitic, Anti-Jewish and Other Religions, Religion-Related and/or Religion Derived Prejudice and Discrimination Task Force.


The following interview was conducted for the article Women Connecting Across the Generational Divide which appeared at Huffington Post.

You are participating in Omega Institute’s conference, Connecting Across the Generations. Why do you think dialogue among women of different generations is important?

Because we came to the realization that we need to learn from other women, their wisdom and their experiences. When we limit our world to the one around us, we do not have the chance to benefit from the immense wisdom of other generations as well as the one from our ancestors and women that open the path for us to walk it. We have much to learn from our moms and grandmas, even those that life let us borrow, as well from our own daughters.

How old are you? (if you don’t mind me asking – for the women featured in our article representing various generations, we just try to indicate which generation you fall under!) If Gloria Steinem represents 2nd Wave Feminism, and 20-something women today represent 3rd Wave Feminism, which do you identify with?

I am 58, and I was raised in Argentina where being a feminist was kind of a bad word at the time I was being brought up.

In your youth, as a Latina, did you identify with feminism? Did you have a disconnect, feeling that it spoke more to North American/white/privileged women? Which causes were most compelling for you then, gender issues or ethnicity issues or class issues? Is it different today?

When I was an adolescent or young adult, being a feminist was rebelling against society and to my own feminine side. It meant wanting to be like a man, in a culture that had well defined role expectations for both. I recall a HS teacher that told us that we have to be passive in a relationship, and that was already a given as our anatomy was: to receive passively!

I also remember at the time the military reigned in Argentina, a president (he did not last in his position for too long), who ruled that women were not allowed to wear pants in public! I was 18 years old at the time… and while I thought it was crazy at a time when jeans were becoming popular, I received the clear message that women had one position in society that should not be altered. “Feminism was not for me”. I wanted to fit in. my friends were not feminist either. It was something that we talked about but not us. It belong to a movement in the US were women had a different life. We even criticized women who were not homey, as being not very affectionate, or superficial… therefore, they could be talking about feminism, but not us! We did not see feminism as a privilege, we were critical of changing the status quo as we understood it at the time… we wanted to be treated like ladies, and we wanted to take care of our families… and we still do. however, now I understand that they are not exclusive.

For me, ethnic and class issues were predominant, as it was a very rigid society and it was difficult to find your own place: most of your life was “pre-determined”, or at least that was my perception. I wanted differently.

While these concepts have changed in Latinas in the US, I find that in some parts of Latin America world they remain similar, still not the same.

Is feminism, as a movement, relevant for women of color today? For poor and abused women?

As a psychologist, working with poor and abused women, they still are bound to an image of being dependent and not self reliable, and basically not having a voice to stop the abuse or to ask for what they want or need. Once they learn that they can create themselves the life they want without relying on somebody else, then life changes and they are not intimidated by others anymore.

In your practice and your advocacy today, do you see young women identifying themselves as feminists? Why or why not?

They still do not use the word feminist, or very rarely. They might use powerful woman and lately "Wise Latina," as portrayed by Judge Sotomayor. It is a linguistic issue that was tinted by negative connotations in the past as: “women that do not want to be women”.

I know that the organizers at Omega set out very thoughtfully in terms of making sure the faculty at the conference was diverse. One of the criticisms many people feel about the term “feminist” and the “women’s movement” is that it has not been inclusive enough in terms of race and class. Do you agree this is a problem, and how can how can this best be addressed?

I somewhat agree as I have not seen many Latinas in the Women Conference. I am delighted to have presented Rigoberta Menchu, and that Isabel Allende will be there this year. I also appreciate that I was invited and I am honored. However, there are many extraordinary Latinas that could bring much more into the conference, not only within the US but in the world.

Also, please consider that in the Latino community, words such as comadres, sisters, or any other that creates familism has been predominant and more accepted than feminist.

In what ways do you think generational issues cut across race and class differently?

North American/white/privileged women mothers and grandmothers have different stories. Latinas have deep roots into their own different cultures, many expressed through music, poems and story telling. Searching for women’s family and cultural stories create a new dimension of understanding own identity, that cannot be transferred from other races.

Do you feel a sense of gratitude to your “foremothers” in the feminist movement? Do you pick up a sense of gratitude toward you from young women today?

Definitely, but I had to do my own search to come to the realization of what implies to be a woman in this world. And I learn more about myself each year I attend the Women Institute. September became the month that I dedicate to myself in search of a meaning of my own. I could not be what I am today if it would not be for the women in the movement.

What are some of the most important issues facing Latina women and the Latina community today?

In the instance of Sotomayor, her racial background, heritage and gender have taken center stage in the confirmation hearings. This has called the eyes of the Latina community, as we can all see ourselves in this picture.

For the less privileged Latinas, they are still facing gender issues related to machismo, domestic violence, high incidence of teenage pregnancy, highest incidence of depression and suicide attempts, 10.5% grade average education, increased risk of gang involvement and violence,… and all of this more so since the financial crisis. The Latina community, as women in general, still make less than our male counterparts, 53% of a salary compared to men. And Latina women lag behind White and African American women in earnings.

The Latina community has been largely invisible. The issues are still seen largely though Black/White lenses.

What type of wisdom do you think older women have to offer younger generations?

Let them know their struggles and how they were able to overcome and become.

What can older women learn from younger women?

How to think out of the box, without engrained prejudices: I look at my daughters and want to have fun as they do! It is great to have fun! This is something that my mother did not tell me!!!!


For more on Ana Nogales, visit her web site at www.ananogales.com

Note: Portions of this interview appeared in the article Women Connecting Across the Generational Divide: From Gloria Steinem to Courtney Martin which appeared at Huffington Post.

Feminist.com's Archive of Features from the
Women & Power: Connecting Across the Generations Conference


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©Marianne Schnall. No portion of this interview may be reprinted without permission of Marianne Schnall .

Marianne Schnall is a widely published writer and interviewer. She is also the founder and Executive Director of Feminist.com and cofounder of EcoMall.com, a website promoting environmentally-friendly living. Marianne has worked for many media outlets and publications. Her interviews with well-known individuals appear at Feminist.com as well as in publications such as O, The Oprah Magazine, Glamour, In Style, The Huffington Post, the Women's Media Center, and many others.

Marianne's new book based on her interviews, Daring to Be Ourselves: Influential Women Share Insights on Courage, Happiness and Finding Your Own Voice came out in November 2010. Through her writings, interviews, and websites, Marianne strives to raise awareness and inspire activism around important issues and causes. For more information, visit www.marianneschnall.com and www.daringtobeourselves.com.

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