Effect of Colonialism on Gender Equality Relating to the Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

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  • Topic: Woman, Gender, Colonialism
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  • Published : May 3, 2011
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When it comes to delegating responsibility, allocating power, and demanding equality, there always seems to be an underlying bias towards the masculine sector of society, which allows an imbalance regarding gender equality. Understanding where this way of thinking comes from is an essential part of trying to shift and completely erase the bias. Throughout history, a patriarchal pattern and way of thinking has been passed down from generation to generation; what we fail to see is the reason for this pattern and the ways in which we can remedy the situation. A great example of this issue is displayed in the novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz. The female characters of Junot Diaz’s novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, La Inca, Beli, and Lola, demonstrate the ways in which colonialism led to the dehumanization of citizens, especially women, and how these power dynamics carry over into modern society in relationships between the majority and minority, both in terms of race and gender in their oppression and the stigma that is attached to being a Dominican immigrant women in America. There are three important women in the novel: La Inca, Beli, and Lola.  Each are strong women who battle each other, men, the fuku, their past, their color, and--most important the fact that they are women. One can argue that this habit of undermining the female population comes all the way from when colonialism began to take place. Not only did this Western idea of colonizing mean degrading those that were more, barbaric and unfortunate. “..we must study how colonization works to decivilize the colonizer,to brutalize him in the true sense of the word, to degrade him, to awaken him to buried instincts, to covetousness, violence, race hatred, and moral relativism.” (Cesaire 35) But it was from this that the idea of judging humans by their appearance came about and began to exist. Prior to this the idea of looking and judging by color, gender and physical appearance was non-existent. What we fail to see as a society is the realness of this matter, the fact that still in the 21st century this idea of inequality hits almost every single female in one way or another, affecting even the capability to sustain themselves economically because of the still present gender gap in salary wages.

This struggle is specifically seen in foreign females residing in America. Junot Díaz in his novel very craftily, with much use of heteroglossia- the presence of two or more voices, discourses, or expressed viewpoints in a text or other artistic work and uncensored truth displays this with his female characters. Lola, represents the first generation American Hispanic female who struggles with finding a balance of her spanish culture and the urge of freeing herself from the stereotype she is expected to uphold. In her journey to oppose such characterization, and as a modern Dominican girl she could only push and dream on. “with promises that once I reached college I would be able to do whatever I pleased, burst out. I couldn’t help it... It was a message more than a feeling, a message that tolled like a bell: change, change, change.” (Díaz 58) This feeling of hope is what drives and keeps many women working hard and pushing for positive changes still to this day. But the constant tag of war with essentialism- belief that a group of pe2ople exhibit traits, characteristics, or behaviors that are essential to their nature and membership to that group, is what drove Lola to the verge of insanity. “What it’s like to be the perfect Dominican daughter, which is just a nice way of saying Dominican slave.” (Díaz 56) She fought like a mad cat for justice, freedom and opportunities. Basic human rights, but not for the average foreign female in the U.S. Her battle was seen as her “crazy years.. what Dominican girl doesn’t have those?” (Díaz 24) Her sense of independence and bravery is taken and classified just merely because she is an ethnic female....
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