“Society and Gender Myths”
From the beginning of life, people are lead to believe that by being a boy or girl they will have to follow certain unwritten “rules” of what is expected of them based on their sex. In Judith Ortiz Cofer’s “I Fell in Love, or My Hormones Awakened” the reader could see these social constructions of femininity. This is a story about a young Puerto Rican girl whofalls in love with an older teenager. She believes that he has not even noticed her but after a school activity, he kissed her, and she believes this is the beginning of true love. Her behavior is influenced throughout the entire story by the cultural myths of femininity. This story makes the reader think over how the culture limits the human to act according the division created between the twogenders.
The social construction of femininity or masculinity affects everyone in society. These constructions do not let the people act the way they want. Children learn to categorize themselves by gender very early on in life. A part of this is learning how to display and perform gendered identities as masculine or feminine. Boys learn to manipulate their physical and social environmentthrough physical strength or other skills, while girls learn to present themselves as objects to be viewed. For example, when a baby is born if it is a boy he wears blue clothing if it is a girl she wears pink clothing. When they are growing up, girls are supposed to be pacific and nice, and boys are supposed to be aggressive. This are some examples that prove that the social constructions ofgender are present since the beginning of life ,and that is almost everywhere, and sometimes people do not notice them.
In love there are many gender myths that are presented in this story. One of these myths is presented in this sentence: “And it had to remain secret, because I had, of course, in the great tradition of tragic romance, chosen to love a boy who was totally out of my reach”(Cofer680). This is a myth because in society there exists a tradition that the women wait until the men tells that he loves her, so the women has to maintain her love in secret. In society does not look good, if the woman is the one who gives the first step and declare her love to the men. Traditionally it is the men who declare their feelings first and it is the women who gives the answer. This isseen in the story when the guy that she is in love kisses her. He gave the first step and with the kiss he is telling her that he loves her too. “I nearly screamed when I felt someone grab me by the waist. But my mouth was quickly covered by someone else mouth. I was been kissed” (Cofer 682). Nowadays both men and women are free to speak about their love and feelings first. Of course thetraditions are not totally overcome in people’s mind. Women often are too shy or too proud to do it first. Men usually don’t know how to behave in the answer and what to do; they may even get scared and push the woman away. And women are less prepared to hear “no” and can get deeply hurt by it.
Another myth presented in the story is about the beauty; “The main privilege of beauty is thatothers will do almost everything for you, including thinking” (Cofer 681). This is another myth that influences the behavior of the narrator. In this story the beauty is a form of power, and because the narrator do not consider herself pretty she acts like nobody notice her. This myth can lead to have a low self esteem; that provokes the person to feel unimportant, not loved and unhappy with the wayhe/she is. This is very common in childhood experiences and is important to be treated with therapies or it can end in serious problems. Throughout this story it seems that the narrator has a very low self esteem, she is not conformed to the way she looks, to her body. “How was it that I always got it just slightly wrong and worse…The poor little Puerto Rican girl” (Cofer 682). This problem...
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