The Myth Of The Latin Woman And Other Idnetity Appreciation Works
In many occasions, we normally find ourselves in situations where our ethnicities determine how we are treated by others and this tends to either empower us or disempower us. Judith Cofer has been a victim of cultural stereotypes through her life as a poet and a novelist. She is a Latin from Puerto Rico. She had settled in Georgia together with her family after the retirement of her father as navy officer where she attended Augusta University. This essay will perform an analysis of the textual and contextual framework that is used by Judith O. Cofer in her story, ‘The Myth of the Latin Woman”, which is in the book, “One World, Many Cultures” by Stuart Hirschberg and Terry Hirschberg. This will involve an exposure of the underlying realities and the assumptions that are in the text, so as to determine whether the issue that has been raised in the text has been changed in any way by the treatment of the author. This will be useful in helping me determine whether the author believes in language as a tool for empowerment of disempowerment or both.
Judith Cofer had a great desire in succeeding as a writer which was mostly inspired by the numerous instances of misperception due to her Latin ethnicity. As an English professor in the University of Georgia, she has therefore used her collections of essays to explore the veracious adverse effects that the Latina stereotype have. She has used her experiences in the American and to explain how people from a different ethnicity are treated when they are in a foreign land based on the stereotypes and the myths that are linked to their ethnicities (Cofer n.d., 180)
Whenever we move to a land with different cultures from ours, we tend to have a hard time fitting within that foreign land. It is not easy for one to leave everything about their cultures such as the mode of dressing, the ascent, the way you associate with people and other things that defines us. This are the things that makes us so noticeable when within a group of people of a different ethnicity. This was the case of Cofer who has been brought up in Puerto Rico, attended a Catholic school and brought up by Latino Parents. She would be easily noted by anyone who was not Latino (Cofer n.d., 181).
One of the greatest stereotype that she has to deal with in America is the myth that Latin women are only good in performing domestic roles and as waitresses. She confirms this when she had attended a public poetry reading event that was held in Miami. She was signaled by a woman she had met in the restaurant, who then ordered Cofer to serve her a cup of coffee, thinking that she was one of the waitresses in the restaurant. She would even not bother to ask if she was a waitress or not but due to the fact that she could tell from the appearance and the dressing that offer was a Latino, she had already concluded that she was a waitress which made Cofer feel offended. Just as offer experienced in the restaurant, we also tend to experience the same in our day to day life, where others judge us by the existing stereotypes in our ethnicities which is usually very offensive (Cofer n.d., 184).
Due to the myth that Latino women are known for attending events where they give the opportunity to boys to admire them and recite erotic poems that were composed on the spot, she had to deal with a man who blocked her way as she was coming from the theater with her friend. The man who blocked her way sang to her songs that were offensive and that used offensive words while others who were watching the scenario laughed along. This was a sign that she was not seen to be someone of worth in the society due to her ethnicity but as a person who was merely for entertainment purposes. The most surprising thing about the man is that he seemed to be well-educated but that did not determine the way he took her, even with his knowledge. This was not new to her as there were tales of how Latino women were being treated as sexual innuendos by the bosses in factories where they worked back in Puerto Rico. They were even given a choice to submit the bosses or be fired or for advantage of getting advances (Cofer n.d., 183).
Another incident concerning the sexual stereotype of the Latin girls emerged when she was taken for a dance and a boy who used the opportunity to lean on her and force a kiss on her mouth and after he noticed that Cofer did not respond with passion, he made resentful remarks where he said that he thought that the Latin girls matured early (Cofer n.d., 182).
The mode of dressing of the Puerto Rican women would also result to a clash whenever she came across men who believed it to be a sexual signal (Cofer n.d., 182). They dressed in a way that their skin was left visible, so as to look attractive and keep cool. They also wore too much jewelry and other accessories. Some non Latins made comments that the Puerto Rican girls wore everything at once. According to Cofer, this mode of dressing made them look hopeless and vulgar.
Despite the way Cofer was treated based on her ethnicity, she did not get disempowered but instead, she became more empowered to change the believes of the people and the myths they had about her culture. She did communicate her message through her writings which were aimed at achieving universal truth in order to discourage people from judging others based on their color, ascent or even the stereotypes that exist but by who they are. She wanted to prove that despite her ethnicity, she had more to offer to the society (Cofer n.d., 184).
Not all of us can get empowered by such acts that were suffered by Cofer. Some of us get disempowered and give up in life. They lower self-esteem and make people feel discriminated and not important. Cofer challenges us that we should rather use such occasions to prove those who have such stereotypes that we are better than that. This was what Cofer did to the woman who thought that she was a waiter. She read her book while focusing of her until guilt was eating her up. Cofer made her feel embarrassed by their actions and sure enough, she did not even return to the returned to the event.
Most of the inspiration of Cofer to be what she is from the effects of suffering she went through due to the myths associated with the Latinos. She opted not do get diminished by the Americans but rather use them as a reminder of her destiny each and every day. She made it her destiny to change what people perceived the Latinos as and she did this through her writings. Her response acts as a lesson to those who have gone through similar experiences but gave up. She challenges them that its only when they prove otherwise that they will be accorded respect and honor. Giving up will only worsen the situation and so it is not an option (Cofer n.d., 184).
I can agree that language is a powerful tool which can be used to empower. People from different language have different cultures and misconceptions about the other group. Having a different language makes you noticeable and treated differently. This was what determined how Cofer was treated and all those instances of embracement and shame are what motivated her to be a great writer. It gave her a topic to write about and an opportunity to destroy the stereotype as well as its underlying attitudes. Having a different language became a source of empowerment to her. According to the author, having a different language can sometimes be very good as you will draw positive attention from people but at times, people may despise you because of your language when they believe in the stereotypes existing about your language and culture. Being despised because of your culture should not disempower you but rather empower you to prove the world wrong just as Cofer did.
Cofer, Judith Ortiz. ‘The Myth of the Latin Woman.’ Stuart Hirschberg, Terry Hirschberg. One World Many Cultures. 10. Pearson, 2018. 180- 184.
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Introduction In many occasions, we normally find ourselves in situations where our ethnicities determine how we are treated by others and this tends to either empower us or disempower us. […]