The Mother and the Whore: The Dichotomy of Female Gender Roles in Latin America

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gender, politics, Latin America, female gender roles, society and religion, mothers


Family, Life Course, and Society | Gender and Sexuality | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Studies | Latina/o Studies | Religion | Women's Studies


A contemporary musical artist, Tori Amos, once related that her father had told her that she had to give her body to her husband and her soul to God. Her retort was "What's left for me?" Women throughout the world have been faced with that dilemma wherever patriarchies exist, whether it be within a familial, cultural, or religious community. They are often placed within restrictive categories of their gender roles, which restricts them and removes a great deal of their individuality. When a woman is constantly responding to the dictates of her socially mandated role, her individual dreams and urges can be lost in the process. A specific example of this distribution of the female in Latin America. Religion and society continue to dictate that women who do not meet the standards of womanhood set forth by Mary, the Virgin Mother, are nothing but whores. Such an extreme dichotomy of female roles, mother and whore, simultaneously sets forth constricting guidelines to remain within and farfetched ideals too impossible to attain. Despite the changing time, these roles have remained ever-present, continuing to stifle and repress Latin American women by pigeon-holing them into farfetched caricatures of womanhood.

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