Written by Allison Nevins

This is my list of the most Badass Chingonas of México who shaped and/or continue to shape this beautiful country. I chose to leave Frida off of the list because what could I possibly write about Frida that hasn’t already been written?!?! She has always been México’s most famous chingona, but what I’ve learned is that there are AT LEAST 16 other women whose stories of badassery you simply must hear…I’m only covering 8 of them today…

Each woman on this list deserves their own blog post, but I’ve written a brief overview of why I think they are chingonas or “cabronas” as my badass friend, Julissa says. We will use these two words interchangeably through this post so be prepared! #CHINGA!

As reclaimed specifically by Latina Badass, Melinda Duarte of Coachella Valley, California. Latinas claiming their badassery! | Photo: Medium.com

I also added a link to the best article I found on each of these hotties in case you want to dive deeper into their stories… I hope you do…

Sister Marcella ‘Clarissa’ of Querétaro

Clarissa (1700’s) is famous for being a hot nun who tricked a rich guy into constructing a 6 mile aqueduct so that the people of Querétaro could have fresh water. Clarissa was a very beautiful Capuchin nun (very austere sect and which cappuccinos are named after. Yes, it’s true.) Her aunt was married to a very rich dude from Mexico City. In 1721, she convinced her aunt to help her and her nun friends “spread the word of God” to Querétaro and set up a new convent there. Q-town was an up and coming city just northwest of México City.

Clarissa’s aunt was La Marquesa who was married to El Marques Juan Antonio de Urrutia y Arana. Let’s just call him El Marques. La Marquesa proposes to El Marques that since they are so loaded, they should build and then visit this new convent in Q-town every year. So El Marques agrees and buys some land to build the convent and a house to stay during their annual visits. 

No pictures are available of this nun with a cause, but the waterway she convinced a Marquis to build for her and the people are well photographed. Also, there are many historical markers of the rich, married dude who wanted to have sex with his niece/nun…claro que si. |Photos: Historical Marker Database

In the meantime, El Marques falls in love with his niece-by-marriage, our lovely Clarissa. He professes his love and faith to her, but being dedicated to her aunt and married to God, she did not accept any relationship with him. She did notice that the water in Q-town was shitty, due to old pipes and a long distance to clean fresh water, so she decides to make a deal with El Marques : If he designed, funded and built an aqueduct to provide clean water to the city, she would leave the convent for him. Easy peasy!

On October 22, 1735 water finally flowed into the city, but Clarissa had other plans. She broke her promise to El Marques and stayed with the convent. Bit of a nut punch, but Clarissa got want she really wanted…clean water for her city. Sneaky nun! #cockblock

Read more about Sister Marcella

Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez

(1768-1829) Aka La Corregidora de Querétaro – aka The Mother of México’s Nationhood – aka Dama de Badassery leading up to the War of Independence from Spain.  Born in Morélia, Michoacán, her parents died when she was an infant so Josefa was raised by her older sister who got her into a college in México City (no small feat for a woman in the 1780’s!)

She married Miguel Dominguez, whom she met at college and 10 years later he was relegated by the Spanish colonial rulers to be the Mayor (Corregidor) of Querétaro…so off to Querétaro they went.  Josefa had a big heart for indigenous Mexicans who were always treated like second class citizens by the Spaniards (who her husband worked for). She started helping her native Mexican conspirator friends plot a revolt of Independence from Spanish rule in México.  This is how she met Miguel Hidalgo and Ignacio Allende (muy importante hombres!).  Anyway…

Her husband, Miguel started getting onboard with the idea of Independence when all of a sudden the Spanish authorities asked him to conduct a search of Q-town in order to apprehend rebel leaders!  So El Corregidor literally imprisoned our cabrona in their house to prevent her from exchanging info with her fellow conspirators!  #awkward

Josefa (La Corregidora de Querétaro) and her husband , Miguel (El Corregidor) who jailed her in their house because he was a Spain-fearing pansy. What luck that their house was a government office AND a jail!?! Pinche pendejo. | Photos: davidestrada.org

HOWEVER, Josefa was able to get a message to Hidalgo to warn the conspirators that the Spanish were onto them and to start the revolt at warp speed instead of the usual “mañana, mañana” time frame that Mexicans are so famous for.

Eventually, the Spanish figured out that Miguel, the misfit Corregidor was in on the conspiracy too, and imprisoned both him and La Corregidora separately…her in a monastery.  At this time she was pregnant with her 13th child (!), but was still so rebellious that the monks kicked her out!  Then she was sent to a convent/jail situation with mean nuns and was finally released when she promised to stop being so supportive of the rebellion and her own rebellious ways! #nunlife

She eventually gave birth, but never behaved, because why the hell should she?! Cabrona central. That’s exactly why she is one of the Badass Chingonas of México.

Read more about Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez

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Leona Vicario

Babe with brains (1789-1842). She lived during the same time, but in a different place as the ‘Chingona Corregidora’ whom we just mentioned. Why bring up 2 bad asses from the same period with the same goals? Because if you think Latino societies treat women as lesser citizens than men now – imagine 200+ years ago! Plus, Leona was 20 years younger than Josefa at the time and she has a kick ass love story which includes NOT getting jailed by her spouse. #lowexpectations

Actually named María de la Soledad Leona Camila Vicario Fernández de San Salvador, we will refer to her as LV. LV was orphaned at 17 and she and her vast inherited fortune landed with her uncle in México City. Her uncle was an excellent lawyer and a powerful rancher (read RICH). He taught her social sciences, culture, literature and politics which was highly unusual for a girl at that time. 

LV learned to think critically and became a journalist who wrote for big deal newspapers in México City. One of which was read by the Insurgents (revolutionary rebels). They contacted LV when the War of Independence was breaking out and she agreed to send them secretly coded messages THROUGH HER ARTICLES in the newspaper so they would know what was going on in the capital city.

Hottie Pants and Badass to boot! On the left is LV with Andrés Quintana Roo (aka Hubby) \ Photo: Biografiadee

She joined a secret political society called, “the Guadalupes” who were some of the richest and/or best connected women within México who sent letters with strategic information for the rebel forces; plus money, weapons, ammunition and medicine.  LV specifically gave shelter to fugitives, sent a shit ton of her inheritance for guns and ammo and collaborated with the rebels to get them news and information about what was happening in the Big Town.

LV was thrown in jail for being an insurgent, but NOT by her husband, Andrés Quintana Roo! In fact, he helped her escape! You may recognize his name…He was from the Yúcatan, but came to México City to work with her uncle years prior as a poor legal apprentice. Andrés and LV were “en fuego” pretty much right away, but he was a broke ass bitch and LV was a very wealthy heiress, so her uncle didn’t want them to marry. Well, LV was a chingona after all and she said, “Fuck it!” Andrés also became very important in the fight for Independence in his own right, but we aren’t writing about cabrones right now.

Carmen Serdán

Carmen (1875-1948) founded the Revolutionary ‘Junta de Puebla’ which is the first batch of badass cabrones and cabronas that wanted an end to the non-stop Putin-like presidential administration of the times. She is known for her strength and courage in the fight against the regime of México’s President, Porfirio Díaz. Basically, Diaz was a pinche pendejo who was Prez for 31 years and he wanted to just keep rolling with it. Carmen and her amigas said, “Ay! No Mas!”

President Díaz learned that Carmen, her brothers and other like-minded folk planned to overthrow his regime so he staged an attack on the Serdán family residence/Anti-Diaz HQ in Puebla, Puebla. Now this was November, 1910 and the Anti Re-Electionists planned to start their revolution on November 20th. Diaz’s dudes stormed the Serdán home/HQ on the 18th at 8am – pre-coffee! #offensive

Carmen Serdán , the Heroine of the Mexican Revolution and her group of rebellious chingonas ready to stick it to the man! Diaz specifically. | Photos: Canal22

Carmen, her brother Aquiles and “La Junta de Puebla” started firing. Carmen ran to the balcony and yelled to the townspeople below, the great quote that earned her the title, ‘Heroine of the Mexican Revolution of 1910’…

Mexicans, stop living on your knees!  Freedom is worth so much more than life!” 

Boom goes the Chingona!

The “get off your knees” reference is kind of funny….if you are sick like me. In other news, the Serdán house, still riddled with bullet holes, was converted into the Museum of the Revolution of Puebla in 1960. You can get a bit more info on it at Casa De Los Hermanos Serdan / Museo Regional de la Revolución Mexicana

Read more about Carmen Serdán

Elvia Carrillo Puerto

Elvia (1878-1968) founded the first feminist league in 1912 and was basically the most badass broad in the Yúcatan. Let’s go back to her days growing up in Motul, Yúcatan, a small pueblo outside of the capital city of Mérida…Elvia was a fiercely independent child from a big family.

Her favorite sibling was brother Felipe, who later would become the governor of the state. Even as kids, these two were intelligent and sensitive enough to notice that the indigenous Mayans in their pueblo were not treated with the same dignity or given the same opportunities that more European/Mexican families were privileged with. They also noticed how differently males and females were educated and what roles they were encouraged to play. This shit didn’t sit well with these two badasses.

As per typical late 1800’s Mexico…Elvia was married off at the age of 13 to a much older man. She had a kid with him and after 8 years was a widow. Then she remarried. Then she divorced. Then she remarried AND divorced the same guy. Does this sound like an early 1900’s dame to you? No, it sounds like Elizabeth Taylor. CHINGONA!

Her struggle and social activism earned her the nickname of ‘The Red Nun of Mayab’. “Red” because of her socialistic views and “Mayab” because she furthered the native Mayan causes. Not sure where the nun part came from because she committed her life to achieve women’s suffrage, the emancipation of women and their rights in México. She was a teacher and poet, and an activist for birth control, sexual freedom, divorce and anti-religious oppression of the time. CABRONA!

Young, beautiful, feminist leaders were not known to come from small towns in southeast México! | Photos: FEMU A.C. and Grupo Marmor

Elvia founded family planning programs that instituted legalized birth control in México. She also shared her material with Margaret Sanger of the US, the founder of the American Birth Control League which was later renamed Planned Parenthood. #Badassconnection

In 1923, Elvia was named to the Yucatan congress during her brother’s tenure as governor, the first woman to hold a position in state legislature in México. Then Felipe was assassinated and ALL womens’ rights were stripped in the Yúcatan! Can you fucking believe that?! She loses her brother and all of the progress they had made together in one gunshot! So she said, “Fuck this!” and moved to San Luis Potosi to continue taking up the Chingona cause!

Read more about Elvia Carrillo Puerto

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María Félix

MF (1914-2002) short for mother fucking awesome, was originally named María de los Ángeles Félix Güereña. She was one of 16 siblings and one of the most successful Mexican actresses in the 1940’s and 50’s – the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema. MF earned the moniker, La Doña, from her character in the movie Doña Barbara. She was known for her strong character and intelligence…never letting herself be dominated by anyone and being very loyal to her ideals. MF became an indomitable example for Mexican women – CHINGA!

The two films that really shaped her career and reputation were La Mujer sin Alma (The Woman without a Soul, 1944) and La Devoradora (The Devourer of Men, 1946). As María Félix herself said, 

“With these films, I became the number one enemy of the Mexican family morals. Somehow, I seduced the public, even those who criticize the conduct of my characters in the films. My legend began to take shape without moving a finger. The public imagination did everything for me.

No citation needed, cabrons!
Movie Poster of her most famous role and María just being hottie pants MF! | Photos: IMDB and El Universal

This chick had some fucking opinions. Here are some of her greatest quotes: “Talking about me is very severe and difficult because I am so much better than I look.”

“The best way to love someone is to accept them as them as they are… it’s not easy, but just loving assholes is easy.”

“I’ve never cried for a man because the moment he doesn’t love me, I don’t want him anymore.”

“Don’t feel bad if someone rejects you, people usually reject the expensive because they can’t afford it.”

Hopefully these classic lines give you an idea of how much she embraced her inner cabrona. La Doña María went on to star in over 47 films across the globe. Her IMDB bio says it best…

More a star than an actress, she constructed an image of a tough woman, a sort of one-liner she-male that went beyond the traditional role of Latin American women. Her fame went beyond México to Latin America, Spain, France and Italy. She always refused to learn English, so she never acted in any English language movie. That’s the main reason why her fame was related almost exclusively to Latin countries.

BOOM BITCHES!

Read more about María Félix

Chavela Vargas

Similar era…different kind of chingona! Chavela (1919-2012) was a gravely voiced Ranchera Singer, a lesbian with a long list of famous lovers and a shaman. Even as a teen she smoked and drank way too much, wore men’s clothing and carried a pistol. Fucking cabrona! The New Yorker Magazine called her, “México’s Magestic Lesbian Chanteuse.” Not a bad title!

Her real name was María Isabel Vargas. As it turns out, Chavela is a pet name for Isabel. She was born in Costa Rica, but moved to México when she was 17 years old because Costa Rica sucks for lesbians with pistols. She adopted México as her homeland and once declared, “I owe my whole life to México. And to myself.” Therefore, she makes the list.

Vargas was called “la voz áspera de la ternura”, the rough voice of tenderness.  She was hugely successful during the 1950s, 60s, and the first half of the 70s, touring in México, the United States, France, and Spain. This is more or less the 25+ years where she drank more than most fish in the sea. Crazy-town alcoholism. Not her only open secret…

Chavela had many lesbian lovers including Frida Kahlo. Her hard living reputation was as sizzling and gravely as her voice and performances.
Photos: Chavela Vargas Film

Long considered an open secret, she publicly came out as a lesbian at age 81 in her autobiography titled And If You Want to Know about My Past.  She compiled an amorous résumé that ranks among the most distinguished in the history of twentieth-century lesbianism and why she is on my list of Badass Chingonas of México.

I recently watched a great documentary about her that detailed an intimate relationship with none other than Frida Kahlo. Sexy time.

“I live only for you and Diego,”

Frida Kahlo

In addition, she had an affair with the magnate and collector of Frida’s and Diego’s works, Dolores Olmedo. Diego definitely banged Dolores too and rumor has it that Frida tried to get into DO’s pants as well. SCANDALOUS! Rumor linked Chavela Chingona to fellow-divas Lola Beltrán and María Félix (our MF!).

But the most talked about ‘secret’ was when freaking Chavela went to “one of those parties where ‘we went in Saturday and went out Monday, all drunk’…she had an affair with Ava Gardner. It was at the wedding of Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Todd in 1957, in Acapulco, that she attended with Frida Kahlo. “Everyone dawned with everyone, I dawned with Ava Gardner,” she says. Not kidding.

She was in her 90’s on a trip to Spain when she fell ill and spent 10 days in the hospital. When she regained enough strength, the Mexican Government sent a repatriate flight to bring her back “to die in my own country.” Her final words on the day she died in Cuernavaca, Morelos, México were, “I go with México in my heart.” 

Read more about Chavela Vargas

Yalitza Aparicio 

Yalitza (1993-present) rose to stratospheric fame after starring in her film debut as the lead in Alfonso Cuarón’s 2018 drama, Roma. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading and go to Netflix right fucking now. Our Oaxacan princess was raised by her single mother who worked as a maid and by her older sister. Her sister was going to the Roma auditions in their town and dragged Yalitza along (even though she had no acting training at all).

Of course, she was fabulous in it and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, becoming the first Indigenous woman and the second Mexican woman to receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination (following Salma Hayek for her role in 2002’s Frida). So what makes her Chingona material?

Do you know how much shit she received from her fellow Mexicans for being highlighted as an actress and model hottie? Racism is sadly everywhere and México is no different. Between the Spain-ish Mexicans (read light skinned/white) who have mostly just European blood lines to meztizos (European and Indigenous mixed race) who are certainly lighter skinned than the truly Indigenous/solely native Mexicans…it seems that the fairer skinned Mexicans think they are better/classier/blahblahblah than those of native Mexican-only decent…

Our beautiful Yalitza in her first ever acting performance as the lead in ‘Roma’ and on the cover of Vogue México | Photos: Roma and Vogue

In a New York Times Op-ed, Yalitza wrote:

“I never thought that a movie alone could prompt social awareness and change. That’s exactly what happened. Suddenly people in my home country of México were talking about issues that have long been taboo here — racism, discrimination toward Indigenous communities and especially the rights of domestic workers, a group that has been historically disenfranchised in Mexican society.”

However, Aparicio said that the kinds of prejudice challenged by the movie plagued her in real life once she received the Best Actress Academy Award nomination.

“I have firsthand experience with this kind of discrimination. After I was nominated for an Academy Award for portraying Cleo, racist comments began to circulate on social media. Commenters questioned why I was nominated, making references to my social and ethnic background. ‘An Indigenous woman was not a worthy representative of the country,’ some said. It was hard for me to see and hear these sorts of statements.”

This poor girl just went to a casting call and accidentally booked a role in a film that ended up being really important…THEN she ends up being recognized as a badass Latina by Vogue…THEN had to endure a shit storm by uppity fuck nuts who can’t see the beauty of her indigenous Oaxacan heritage. #Annoying.

How did she handle the backlash of her fame? By giving the haters a big “Fuck You!”, that’s how! In 2019, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. On October 4, 2019 she was named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Indigenous Peoples – so there! She has not filmed a single thing since Roma, choosing instead to use her voice for activism.

Read more about Yalitza Aparicio

One little diddy about Salma (1966-present) …Hottie Hayek was born in Veracruz and began her career in México acting in Telenovelas. She moved to Hollywood in 1991. In 2002 she landed her breakthrough role in Frida and was nominated for the Best Actress for the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award. She is super hot and accomplished, but we have so many actresses to cover in this blog, y’all! #lovemesomesalma

Read more about Salma Hayek

Chinga!

In conclusion…this post is part 1 of a 2 part series on Badass Chingonas of México! So even if we didn’t cover Frida Kahlo, we sort of did. And even though we didn’t cover Salma Hayek who portrayed Frida Kahlo in Frida, we sort of did. Did we mention that Chavela Vargas also starred in Frida? No? Hmmm. Stay tuned for the other half of this list! Gracias and thanks!

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