Here are two things that I noticed from this reading, that I’d like to point out because I’m not sure if I could make sense of them in class off the top of my head:
One of the follow-up questions to Jacinto Jesus Cardona’s “Bato con Khaki’s” is “Why is bato ‘too bold’ a word for the speaker’s ‘mother’s blood?” (339). Then, right after that, in Jamaica Kincaid’s essay “Girl,” a dominant voice, probably female (perhaps a mother, older sister or older family friend) speaks to a girl about how to grow up appropriate. The connection between the two pieces highlights how it is the responsibility of the mother/female to raise the next generation both male and female, which is probably obvious because it falls into that domestic sphere. Then, wouldn’t it also be presumed, that those children’s failures are automatically projected onto the mother? It becomes the mother’s responsibility (and shame) when her son becomes a bato or her daughter a slut.
Considering all of the outside influences that act upon children–media, technology, peers, other adults, history, it’s quite unfair that females are forced to bear this responsibility alone. Katha Pollit supports me (or I guess, I support her), when she wrote “They let parents off the hook–no small recommendation in a culture that hold moms, and sometimes even dads, responsible for their children’s every misstep on the road to bliss and success” (399).
And isn’t unfair to fathers that they aren’t given (more) credit for the responsibility or shame that they bear for their children’s futures?
Although McQuade and McQuade do a reasonable job to separate gender and race into different chapters, race is still a significant factor to consider when talking about gender (some people debate that it is completely inseparable when speaking of gender). I thought Judith Ortiz Cofer’s “The Story of My Body” hit the nail on the head at the end, when she writes,
In college, I suddenly became an “exotic” woman to the men who had survived the
popularity wars in high school, who were now practicing to be worldly: They had
to act liberal in their politics, in their lifestyles and in the women they went
out with (349) [emphasis added].
The questions of exoticism and exploitation are really interesting. Conversely, in “How to Write A Catchy Beer Ad,” when the ad makers were filming the ad, they wanted women “to look hot but approachable, someone I wouldn’t be scared to talk to” and thus went with twins who were “All-american and real” (391). (Funny–of course they’re real, they picked living, breathing humans?! And what does it mean to be All-American?!) They wanted women who were similar to themselves, but “approachable” which could be read as non-threatening, subservient, less than. And are exotic women thus oppositely viewed as other and scary?
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