Myth Of The Latin Woman Essay Research

Myth Of The Latin Woman Essay, Research Paper

The principal notion about life revealed in this essay is that in Western

societies the Latin Women are viewed stereotypically as a sex object

or selfless housewives and obsequious workers. Otherwise, some people

believe and perpetuate stereotypes about particular ethnic groups while

in reality those myths can be related to few members of that ethnic group.

In this essay the author Judith Ortiz Cofer discusses how she has

been treated by different people in different countries due to their

conception of her as a Latin woman. The author refers to the several

incidents where she has been viewed stereotypically as a person who is

capable of doing only a very simple job or being an object that satisfies

a man’s lust. She says that from her childhood, because she was a female,

she was kept under strict surveillance by her parents and was schooled

how to behave as a proper senorita. Because of her background she had to

be dressed up as a Puerto Rican girl. As she says it was obvious that

for the others this kind of dressing seemed vulgar. It is clearly that

from her childhood the author has been surrounded by the circumstances

in which a female human being must fit into demands of her society. The

author’s culture and traditions were not the same with the American

culture, and as a result, the girl was grown up on the verge of two

different customs. As the author says, the way of dressing of the Latin

women gives American men a wrong massage about these women. It happens

because they apply their own culture and customs to the traditions of

other ethnic group. Vivid colors of clothes and brilliance of jewelry

sometimes are signals of the easy accessibility of a woman for a Western

man. From those attributes was created a myth about Hispanic woman as

the hot tamale or sexual firebrand.

The author recalls stories that she heard in her house during her

childhood about sexual harassment that Puerto Rican women endured in

factories where they were seen as if sexual innuendo was all they

understood. She also describes her own experience of being seen

stereotypically when the boy who took her to her first formal dance

kissed her and without having received a passional response remarked,

I thought you Latin girls were supposed to mature early. Here we see

not only a stereotypical view of the Latin women but also consideration

of those women as something that is able to ripen like a fruit or

vegetable. The incident with a young boy on the bus who was singing

Maria from West Side Story also seems to have left a bitter taste at

the author, You can leave the island… and travel as far as you can,

but if you are a Latina, the island travels with you. The event at the

hotel seems to be the culmination of the essay. Here a man who seems

to be well-educated and respectable sings a dirty song to amaze the

author and people around. It is obviously that the author was deeply

embarrassed in this incident and she remarks that if non-Hispanic woman

were in her place, the same man would not show such disrespect because

she could be somebodys wife or mother, or at least somebody who might

take offence.” But for this man she was just “an Evita or a Maria:

merely a character in his cartoon-populated universe.”

To support the opinion that the Latin women in the United States are

viewed as domestic or menial workers the author gives another one example

from her own life.

She tells us about her first public poetry reading that took place at

a restaurant. She tells how nervous and excited she was as she walked

in with her notebook in hand. An older woman motioned her to her table

and ordered from the author a cup of coffee, assuming that she was the

waitress. As we see some people only from the appearance of the person,

following and supporting the existing stereotypes, are able to conclude

everything about this human being. They just consider the members of

other ethnic groups as they have been doing it all their lives.

I can relate to this idea about stereotypical view of the Latin women

because I have become a victim of stereotypical view of the Russian women

and because almost all my friends go through this every day. Usually

this misconception arises from cultural differences or from images that

are represented to us by media or TV. And it is highly unlikely for this

misconception to be ever broken down because usually we are satisfied with

what we already know and we dont want to disturb our minds by putting

them into work to change our perception of the around world. Sometimes

it is easier for us just to erase ones individuality by considering a

person as a typical and ordinary than to admit somebody as an unusual

and unique personality.

For the sake of objectivity I have to mention that while I was looking

for the information on Latin women in Internet, after entering the

keywords like “Latin women in USA” and “Discrimination of Latin women”

most of the sites that I was getting were offering sexual services. So,

we can assume that some Latin women have a finger in the pie and intensify

the existing stereotypes.

I would like to tell about Rita Morena, the actress who played in the

mentioned above movie “West Side Story” and who received Oscar for

Best Supporting Actress in this film in 1962. The story of her career

shows in full measure how the Latin women are seen in the USA and in

England. Little child, she was brought to New York from Puerto Rico by her

mother. Growing up, Rosita had to surpass many obstacles in a new for her

society. Because of her natural talent and diligence she quickly succeeded

as an actress and a dancer. But she says that to get a job she had to play

up the idea of the “Latin spitfire.” She always wanted to play important

roles but being a Puerto Rican, she had to play the roles of the Latin

women as they were seen in the USA. Usually she was cast as the dumb,

barefooted, sexy – the only roles she was suited for according to the

filmmakers. In her first role she played “a fiery love machine.” In

her second movie she represented the image of a poor, brown-skinned

woman. She says she felt disappointment at that time because by her work

she was perpetuating the stereotype of the women of her nationality as

hot-blooded and hot-tempered sex kittens. The money received for Oscar

she donated toward the civil rights movement. To escape from racism Rita

went to London but after some month she returned because she found more

racism there. Rita Morena says that even today, after many years, the

situation hasnt changed. Here we see that the whole life of a talented

person was darkened by the stereotype that follows that person even today.


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