The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
As I read this book, there were many topics that were shocking because they hit so close to home. Though I think that there are many important themes, female sexuality and power is the one that I would like to go deeper into. Even though we like to think that nowadays women equality is not such a big issue, recent events have proven that wrong. Every day I see news stories of women being treated as inferior to men.
The Dominican Republic, like many latin Americans countries, exhibits a very strong and make oriented culture. I know it as “machismo” which is basically exaggerated male power that makes men feel superior, in the book, women are portrayed as a minor group of people and because of the lack of power that they had they had to resort to sexuality a lot of the time to get what they needed. We saw that Belicia and Lola had to use their physical assets to assert power.
Women are objectified and seen as only valuable for their bodies, sometimes it is used to prove their worth to others but a lot of time they have to prove it to themselves too. Lola from the very beginning desired escape, all she wanted was freedom and she did not hesitate to use her sexuality to climb higher into new and better places. I believe that being latina added even more to her wanting out. “What it’s like to be the perfect Dominican daughter… I stayed home and made sure Oscar was fed and that everything ran right.
’’(Diaz 56) It is expected of Latina women of all ages to stay home and do all the cleaning along with nurturing. Even though Lola was in the united states and was given an education, she did not have the average responsibilities that a child would normally have she even describes herself as a “perfect Dominican slave”. This shows the blind obedience that she had to have.
Lola recognizes the power her body can have and she used it to seek escape. That was only after she spent a large part of her life shunning it by doing things like cutting her long hair. She learns that women are not seen as equals and on very few occasions she explicitly uses her body to trade them for something she wants. Later in the book, Lola has a breakthrough and we find that she has become an exemplary woman despite all of the hardships that she had to face. In college, she is described as an overachiever and the leader of many organizations. Even though she is an extremely well-educated woman because of the society she lives in she still has to resort to sexuality to be heard and get what she wants because a woman’s worth is solely based on her ability to attract men.
Beli was actually the first to figure out that she could get whatever she wanted which was to get out of her current situation. With Jack and the gangster she quickly realized that her body could as the Diaz says, “made her famous in Bani.” Instead of defying it she brilliantly used it to her advantage. I feel that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that I think it was smart of her to embrace it and get what she wanted. Either way, she was going to be seen as a sexual object.
Ybon was a more explicit example of this theme. She was a literal prostitute and she never seemed to be ashamed by it. What struck me about her was how little she thought of herself. She had relationships with very violent and abusive men like El Capitan. It seemed that her life was in danger but she didn’t think there was anything better out there for her so she stayed with them out of fear. I believe this was caused because she no longer thought of herself as anything more than a sexual object. She was so heavily objectified that in the class discussion it even led some to believe that Oscar, who died for her solely wanted the physical things from their relationship. There were a couple of different approaches to female sexuality but it all leads to the same conclusion, it being that women will be objectified.