The word “chingona” wasn’t always perceived as cool. In fact, at one point it was considered a derogatory term used to describe women in a negative way — as difficult and out-of-control. “Chingona” came from the word “chingar,” a Mexican term that came from the Caló (Spanish Romani) term čingarár, which means “to fight.” It is also tied to the Basque word txingartu, which means “to burn with coal.” In Mexican Spanish, “chingar” is equivalent to English’s f-word, so needless to say, “chingona” wasn’t a sweet term to call a lady. However, for a man “chingon” translates to things like “good,” “very smart,” and “tough.” There goes machismo/patriarchy/sexism rearing its ugly head again!
But, think of how the word “bitch” has evolved. Much like chingona, calling a woman a bitch was (and is still is) a way to chastise them for being difficult, nonconformist, self-assured, assertive, and in charge. But many women have taken the word bitch and have turned it on its head, embracing the term and using it as a word of empowerment. “Chingona” is our “bitch.” Now, calling someone you know a chingona (don’t try it with strangers who may not accept this new version of the word, or viejitas for the same reason) or calling yourself one is saying you are a badass. You are capable, empowered, and can do anything. This is an especially important term today when Latinx women are making a point to not ask for a seat at the table —we are building and bringing our own, with seats for other chingonas we are here to share the bounty with.
So, now that we know where the word “chingona” has been, and the throne on which it sits today, let’s take a look at 30 memes, sayings, and words of inspiration to help you embrace your inner chingona.