Title

Women’s Bodily Integrity: Rosario Castellanos’ Critiques in the 21st Century

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Rosario Castellanos born to a traditional family in Chiapas, Mexico in 1925 experienced through her lifetime the oppressive, deeply patriarchal society that dominated the human experience within the country. Although many differences exist between the United States in 2015 and Mexico in 1960, Castellanos’ criticism in regards to male defined female sexuality applies to the way in which some sectors of our society view female sexuality today. Considering current legislation attempting to restrict access to birth control and abortions which can directly affect pay inequality, the poetic works of Castellanos offer a voice of opposition to popular ideologies prevalent throughout the United States despite the 40 years that have passed since her death and the differing geological locations. The patriarchal discourse foundational to many societies denies women bodily integrity and autonomy on local, national, and international levels. At the heart of this investigation, I research and describe Castellanos’ societal critique through the medium of poetry in regards to the language and discourse surrounding women’s sexuality in mid-Twentieth Century Mexico. How does Castellanos critique the society around her? Does her language create space for a redefinition of female sexuality? To answer these questions, I have chosen the poems “Kinsey Report,” “Speaking of Gabriel,” and “Self-Portrait.” I analyze and present the implications of the three poems in the specific order outlined above for they highlight the different, yet inextricably interconnected, aspects of female sexuality: sex, pregnancy, and motherhood. I then relate these critiques to the current environment of female sexual repression in the US. Today in the United States, social conservative legislative measures and societal norms borne from a similar patriarchal discourse that Rosario Castellanos confronts in her poetry impede women from freely controlling their sexuality, female reproductive health, and professional lives.

Category

Humanities

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Apr 17th, 9:20 AM Apr 17th, 9:40 AM

Women’s Bodily Integrity: Rosario Castellanos’ Critiques in the 21st Century

UC 331

Rosario Castellanos born to a traditional family in Chiapas, Mexico in 1925 experienced through her lifetime the oppressive, deeply patriarchal society that dominated the human experience within the country. Although many differences exist between the United States in 2015 and Mexico in 1960, Castellanos’ criticism in regards to male defined female sexuality applies to the way in which some sectors of our society view female sexuality today. Considering current legislation attempting to restrict access to birth control and abortions which can directly affect pay inequality, the poetic works of Castellanos offer a voice of opposition to popular ideologies prevalent throughout the United States despite the 40 years that have passed since her death and the differing geological locations. The patriarchal discourse foundational to many societies denies women bodily integrity and autonomy on local, national, and international levels. At the heart of this investigation, I research and describe Castellanos’ societal critique through the medium of poetry in regards to the language and discourse surrounding women’s sexuality in mid-Twentieth Century Mexico. How does Castellanos critique the society around her? Does her language create space for a redefinition of female sexuality? To answer these questions, I have chosen the poems “Kinsey Report,” “Speaking of Gabriel,” and “Self-Portrait.” I analyze and present the implications of the three poems in the specific order outlined above for they highlight the different, yet inextricably interconnected, aspects of female sexuality: sex, pregnancy, and motherhood. I then relate these critiques to the current environment of female sexual repression in the US. Today in the United States, social conservative legislative measures and societal norms borne from a similar patriarchal discourse that Rosario Castellanos confronts in her poetry impede women from freely controlling their sexuality, female reproductive health, and professional lives.