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The Myth of the Latin Woman

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Eden Steel

on 18 November 2014

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Transcript of The Myth of the Latin Woman

"...where prospective employers and men on the street would often misinterpret our tight skirts and jingling bracelets as a come-on."
The Myth of the Latin Woman
Why do you think the people Cofer meets don't support the equality of women?
Overcoming of Oppression
Do you think the author is being contradictory when it comes to her portrayal of her treatment? Why or why not?
Victim of Race
"He would perhaps have checked his impulse by assuming that she could be somebody's wife or mother, or at least somebody who might take offense. But to him, I was just an Evita or a Maria: merely a character in his cartoon- populated universe."
"I recall hearing about the harassment that Puerto Rican women endured in factories where the "boss men" talked to them as if sexual innuendo was all they understood and, worse, often gave them the choice of submitting to advances or being fired."
"Because of my education and my proficiency with the English language, I have acquired many mechanisms for dealing with the anger I experience."
"Mixed cultural signals have perpetuated certain stereotypes - for example, that of the Hispanic woman as the 'Hot Tamale'... In their special vocabulary, advertisers have designated 'sizzling' and 'smoldering' as the adjectives of choice for describing not only the foods but also women of Latin America."
"When a Puerto Rican girl dressed in her idea of what is attractive meets a man from the mainstream culture who has been trained to react to certain types of clothing as a sexual sign, a clash is likely to take place."
"My first instance of being thought of as a fruit or vegetable - I was supposed to ripen, not just grow into womanhood like other girls"
How does the author compare her stereotype to food?
The author feels she is viewed as having the same qualities as food. She is expected by peers to "ripen" as in having a full mature woman body at a young age.
Why is the author using food as a symbol for her stereotype?
Food is prominent in Puerto Rican Culture and sometimes people appeal to foreign foods the same way they refer to women: taste and then disregard
Do these quotes evoke pity in the reader?
Can any of you relate to these quotes?
How has modern day media contributed to racial stereotypes about Latina women? Why do you think it has this effect?
How does the way that Cofer is treated as a woman of color affect the way she behaves?
How do other people in the memoir misinterpret Latinas? Why do you think they are seen in a certain way?
"My friend complimented me on my cool handling of the situation. I confessed to her that I really had wanted to push the jerk into the swimming pool."
"My personal goal in my public life is tot try to replace the old pervasive stereotypes and myths about Latinas with a much more interesting set of realities...I hope the stories I tell, the dreams and fears I examine in my work, can achieve some universal truth which will get my audience past the particulars of my skin color, my accent, or my clothes."
"An older woman motioned me to her table. Thinking (foolish me) that she wanted me to autograph a copy of my brand new slender volume of verse, I went over. She ordered a cup of coffee for me, assuming that I was a waitress."
"Though I was not quite as amused, I managed my version of an English smile..."
How does the author feel men view women of color as opposed to Caucasian women? How does this affect how she is seen in the professional world?
Why do you think the woman assumed the Latina woman was a waitress? What does this say about the way that Latina women are perceived in our culture?
"In retrospect I understand that my anger gave my reading fire, that I have almost always taken doubts in my abilities as a challenge..."
How does the author's bluntness help us feel sympathy for her?
"With both hands over his heart he broke into an Irish tenor's rendition of "Maria" from
West Side Story
"...the Puerto Rican mothers also encouraged their daughters to look and act like women and to dress in clothes our Anglo friends and their mothers found too "mature" for our age"
"....we were simply made the negative models by the nuns who were themselves not credible fashion experts..."
Why does the author choose not to say anything in certain situations instead of standing up for herself?
What feelings does the author's confidence evoke from you?
Thesis Statement

"As a Puerto Rican girl growing up in the United States and wanting like most children to "belong", I resented the stereotype that my Hispanic appearance called forth from many people I met."
The way a person is treated by other people can affect the way they perceive themselves.
Making herself to be a victim of the way she was raised and her culture.
Tries to make us feel sorry for her for the way she is treated because of how she acts, even though she was raised that way.
Why do you think the author chose to write about the way she was raised and the way she is treated?
"...where the 'boss men' talked to them as if sexual innuendo was all they understood and, worse, often gave them the choice of submitting to advances or being fired."
She wants us to pity her for the treatment she receives from men.
She wants to make people aware of the type of treatment that still exists in our society.
The author thinks that men pay more respect to Caucasian women as opposed to women of color because they think of them as more than just women.
Because of this, she isn't seen in a very professional way.
People don't take her as seriously, and they just figure that she is uneducated.
Victim of Race
The woman assumed the Latina woman was a waitress because she didn't expect a Latina woman could be educated.
This shows how Latina women, just like the author are just all grouped together in a certain stereotype.
It shows how quick people are to judge based on physical appearances.
Overcoming of Oppression
The author wants to seem composed and poised.
If she stands up for herself, then people will accuse her of being rude and say that it was uncalled for.
She doesn't want to draw any more attention to herself.
The people in the memoir mistake the Latina women's clothing as a sign of their personalities and values.
The people allow their clothing to prevent them from seeing the women the way they really are.
They are seen in a certain way because our culture tends to be different and more conservative than theirs.
The author's confidence evokes pride because it shows how strong women can be.
It also evokes frustration because she's so confident, yet she lets the comments people make about her race get to her.
Certain people were raised that way, and it's partly society's fault.
People are taught that it's ok to treat women poorly just because they are a different gender.
Media has showed people that it's ok to treat women this way.
It just fuels her and makes her want to prove people wrong.
She uses the poor treatment as motivation to strive to do better.
She wants to act calm to make the other people look even worse in comparison.
The author's honesty is not to evoke sympathy, but to show that she doesn't want to be viewed as weak; she wants to be viewed a strong independent woman.
Complains about the way she is treated by men, but then says it's expected.
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