The Myth Of Latin Women By Judith Ortiz Cofer

1663 Words7 Pages

For many years, Latina women have been seen in popular US media and films such as West Side Story, Evita, La Bamba, and many more. However, the Latinas have only been portrayed as sexy and stupid women in these movies. Though these stereotypes are only meant to get a laugh from the US film watchers to see the Latina maid try to speak English with a heavy accent, the stereotypes are insulting and don’t represent the Latina women or culture accurately. In her memoir, “The Myth of the Latin Women,” writer Judith Ortiz Cofer analyzes many presumptions that her white audience might have about Latinas and argues that the stereotypes exist but they are inaccurate. In order to convey how Latinas are affected, Cofer recalls numerous personal encounters …show more content…

For example, Cofer begins her memoir by explaining a time when she was serenaded in London by a man on the street who “with both hands over his heart broke into an Irish tenor’s rendition of ‘Maria’ from West Side Story” (876). This experience suggests that Cofer’s run-ins with stereotyping happen often and anywhere. Although this man was only trying to be kind, his performance was actually offensive. Similarly, a man at a hotel spotted Cofer and “with his champagne glass extended toward [her], he exclaimed, ‘Evita!’ ” (879). He blocked her path to her room and from avoiding his harassment while continuing to sing more songs about Latina women. Though Cofer was polite and didn’t react on her anger, she claims that she “wanted to push the jerk into the swimming pool” because of his ignorance (880). On both occasions, the men judged Cofer based on her looks and thought it would be comical to reenact popular US films and songs. However, though these experiences seem harmless to the men and maybe some of her audience, Cofer is offended and makes the point that these men probably would not have performed these acts if Cofer was white. By comparing herself through metaphor to a cartoon character, Cofer illustrates how white men routinely dismiss the identities and feelings of Latinas in the US. By extension, …show more content…

Again, as the man in London serenaded Cofer, she claims, “though I was not quite as amused, I managed my version of an English smile… practicing reserve and cool. Oh, that British control, how I coveted it” (876). Her audience can feel her envy toward the British for being so calm and her anger at this moment. She continues to explain a time in high school for Career Day when she “agonized in front of [her] closet, trying to figure out what a ‘career girl’ would wear because… [she] had no models on which to base [her] decision” (877). She agonized and felt shameful that she didn’t know what to wear only to be pointed out as the bad example by the nuns, which makes her audience feel embarrassed and as if they were “an island - not so much a tropical paradise as an Alcatraz, a place nobody wants to visit” (876). Cofer convinces her audience to feel empathy for her from sensing her aggravation toward stereotypes and how she “resented the stereotypes that [her] Hispanic appearance called forth” (876). However, in the end, Cofer illustrates her pride and claims, “every time I give a reading, I hope the stories I tell… get my audience past the particulars of my skin color, my accent, or my clothes” (882). This demonstration of Cofer’s pride for her culture and the realization that these aspects are things she can’t or won’t change,

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