Although men are increasingly outnumbered on college campuses, they may actually like the content of some women’s studies courses, although perhaps not in a manner that the designers of those courses ever intended.
“With my students, I ask how they came up with their self-images,” Emma Ruth Garcia explains. “I show movies in class.”
“I show them Real Women Have Curves and Maria Full of Grace.” Garcia, a teaching intern at Colby College in Maine, spoke at the Modern Language Association’s annual convention last year.
“I watch a lot of TV and read the papers,” Garcia modestly said of her work. “I work with them [the students] to break down images and stereotypes.”
“In Real Women Have Curves, the heroine defies her parents by not being a virgin before marriage and not taking a boyfriend into one’s home to avoid a disgrace,” Juanita Isabel Heredia said. Dr. Heredia serves on the Ethnic Studies department steering committee at Northern Arizona University.
Interestingly, the Internet Movie Database description of Real Women does not even mention the heroine’s sexual coming of age. “Freshly graduated from high school, Ana receives a full scholarship to Columbia University,” the IMDB relates. “Her very traditional, old-world parents feel that now is the time for Ana to help provide for the family, not the time for college.”
“Torn between her mainstream ambitions and her cultural heritage she agrees to work with her mother at her sister’s downtown LA sewing factory. Over the summer, she learns to admire the hardworking team of women who teach her solidarity and teamwork.”
“Still at odds with what her mother expects of her, Ana realizes that leaving home to continue her education is essential to finding her place proudly in the world as an American and Chicana.” Dr. Heredia, who spoke on the same panel with Garcia, addressed the topic “Latinas, Sex and the City.”
During her talk at the MLA’s Washington, D. C. convention, she showed a scene from Real Women. The scene shows the immediate prelude to and aftermath of Ana’s first one-night stand. In the latter scene, the boyfriend promises to call and Ana tells him not to bother.
Dr. Heredia also showed a scene from Maria Full of Grace, the tale of a pregnant Columbian girl who works as a “mule” for a drug trafficker. She swallows narcotics in order to transport them into the United States.
“Both characters learn to control their own bodies through their sexual experiences,” Dr. Heredia said at the MLA meeting at the Washington Hilton. Why does this feminist take sound like it was dreamed up by guys on the make?
Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.