Secondary Source Paper, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1002

Essay

Whoever once said that a book should not be judged by its cover ignored the obvious fact that the cover is the first aspect of judgment of the work. Farégas begins her examination of the topic with a fairly neutral- if wordy- title: “The Cuban Woman’s Revolutionary Experience: Patriarchal Culture and the State’s Gender Ideology, 1950–1976”.[1] This alone inspires confidence in an author who writes over twenty pages concerning a period of twenty-six years. However, the knowledge of Farégas only adds to the biases regarding race and gender roles.

How does the author explain complicated shifts in gender roles?

Farégas struggles to be clear from the beginning. The first paragraphs make it sound as though the revolution was a period of return to male roles of power but also mentions this time as one of creating new roles for women. As often happens following a war, women who helped during the long Cuban Revolution soon found empowerment, leading many to turn away from the roles that existed before the conflict. If the author stated the heart of the matter like that, perhaps it would not have been hard to follow the first few pages of this article. The author writes, “The revolutionary government attempted to create an image of womanhood that could transcend but not disregard the typical domestic portrayal of women,” and explains these roles but does not give any clue about the methods of creating an image.[2]  Did they use posters, violence, stirring essays, television, or something else? Vague descriptions of the ‘New Man’ as “more sensible” hardly help the matter; a man of sensible finances may be a self-destructive romantic.[3] The author clearly knows about the topic, but, as a reader, it feels almost as though they’ve skipped to the conclusion of a book without really introducing the characters or the setting.

The inclusion of the mambisas adds an important element to the discussion of revolutionary women, but the heading leads the reader to believe that these women commonly hung around before the revolution, and the references to the suffrage movement in white culture seems to have a one-sided view. Cubans viewed America as a place of glamor and presented their country in the same way to American celebrities.[4] Behind this glamor, Cubans felt unhappy with the roles as “companion and mother” but also embraced the Western consumer culture of the United States.[5] This lessens the confusion about gender roles and the revolution, but it still skips a conversation about the reasons for the revolution colliding with this Hollywood glamor idea. The structure of society before the revolution already divided the people according to gender and heritage. The author explains that poor women argued for new roles partly because their children would grow up in poverty, inheriting everything of the mother’s social status.[6]

How does the author describe gender roles in Cuban society?

Even in the revolution, people considered women’s rights when they directly affected the futures of the country’s men, the beginning and end of their lives determined by their relationship to their husbands and sons, but Farégas describes the changes in social attitude very well, capturing the wider reasons for both men and women to support new gender roles. The earlier discussion of Hollywood helps the reader understand why paper advertisements about catching a husband would work even when they imply that intimate hygiene-which a “good” Cuban woman would not reveal but would definitely possess- helps them catch a husband. The author could have written the entire article on one aspect or another of the change in gender roles: men’s reasons for acceptance of changing roles, the unchanging opportunities for the poor, or the consumer culture which was the greatest weapon in public views of what a woman ought to do. Each point is valid and strong but got lost as the author skipped back and forth in a way which had little to do with the headings or with the flow of the paper as a whole. If a woman fails to catch a man or if they catch a man under the social station which they possess or strive for, then this failure supports these advertisements[7]. The description of different advertisements is the strongest point of this article, but whenever the author summarizes or explains the importance of the facts, she confuses the order of the events for the reader or reveals a strong bias.

How helpful is this article in general?

Eventually, Farégas discusses each of the important factors affecting Cuban society during and after the revolution. More background would have been helpful, because the answers that the reader needs to follow the point of this article are scattered in ways that make the greater importance of new facts hard to see. The selection of a more specific thesis or a focus just on the years during or after the revolution would clarify the reasons for having these pieces of information and make it easier to see the whole picture. Our class readings on gender in Cuba did a better job of looking at the wider political influences of the country and how they affected the evolution of women’s rights. Farégas needs to explain and defend her conclusions and present them in a logical, orderly way, preferably in the order in which they occurred.

Bibliography

Johanna I. Moya Farégas, “The Cuban Woman’s Revolutionary Experience: Patriarchal Culture and the State’s Gender Ideology, 1950–1976,” Journal of Women’s History 22, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 64-81 (accessed 12 December 2013).

[1] Johanna I. Moya Farégas, “The Cuban Woman’s Revolutionary Experience: Patriarchal Culture and the State’s Gender Ideology, 1950–1976,” Journal of Women’s History 22, no. 1 (Spring 2010):61-84 (accessed 12 December 2013).

[2] Ibid. 62.

[3] Ibid. 62.

[4] Johanna I. Moya Farégas, “The Cuban Woman’s Revolutionary Experience: Patriarchal Culture and the State’s Gender Ideology, 1950–1976,” Journal of Women’s History 22, no. 1 (Spring 2010):61-64 (accessed 12 December 2013).

[5] Ibid 64-65.

[6] Ibid 62.

[7] Johanna I. Moya Farégas, “The Cuban Woman’s Revolutionary Experience: Patriarchal Culture and the State’s Gender Ideology, 1950–1976,” Journal of Women’s History 22, no. 1 (Spring 2010):65-67 (accessed 12 December 2013).

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