Susana Vargas Cervantes

Performing Mexicanidad: Criminality and Lucha Libre

17 de agosto de 2010

Juana Barraza Samperio, a wrestler known as la Dama del Silencio (the Lady of Silence), has been declared the first female serial killer in Mexico. In January 2006, Barraza was arrested as the alleged Mataviejitas (the little old lady killer), a serial killer of elderly women in Mexico City whom police had struggled for two years to apprehend. La Dama del Silencio became la Mataviejitas , and vice versa, more than Juana Barraza became la Mataviejitas. I argue that discourses of criminality and the spectacle of lucha libre intersect within Mexican culture to police and perform the parameters of mexicanidad, reinforcing but also revealing the limits of Mexican masculinity and femininity. This article focuses on this intersection as a potent site for denaturalizing and destabilizing Mexican masculinity and femininity and redressing the raced, classed, gendered and sexualized limits of mexicanidad and criminality that have served to exclude so many from the rights of full citizenship in Mexico.