Crossings: Swarthmore Undergraduate Feminist Research Journal


Malintzin was a controversial Indigenous woman whose contributions to the Aztec conquest raised questions about what it meant to be a traitor with a limited agency. This essay recontextualizes Malintzin’s demonized identity and challenges masculinist sociocultural curations of gender, history, and knowledge production by infusing feminist theory into the cultural imaginaries of gender and racial stratification. By reintroducing Malintzin as a feminist emblematic figure trying to regain selfhood within an exploitative White cisheteropatriarchal society, her existence gives voice to those silenced by the violence of colonization, Manhood, and gender oppression. To do this, the author takes up the work of Judith Butler and Simone de Beauvoir, whose feminist scholarship conceptualizes society’s misogynistic social hierarchies that prevent the self-determined femme from existing in The Americas. Thus, reinterpreting Malintzin’s historical archives helps purge the masculinist paradigm of judging the feminine identity as wrongful for not being a White Man. Feminist philosophies humanize Malintzin as an Indigenous woman forced to survive within the confines of racism and sexism while also critically analyzing the consequential femmephobic and racist cultural logic that denotes Malintzin as a national traitor. The feminist retelling of Malintzin’s experiences disrupts the curated politics of truth by denouncing and rewriting the misogynistic anti-Indigenous colonial narratives used to perpetuate bigoted White cisheteropatriarchal structures of gender, race, and history.