Walking on fire is a book written by Beverly Bell, illustrating how the women of Haiti takes part in the transformation of the country against political, social and economic oppression. The book shows how these women o through severe experiences daily as they fight for their rights especially among the peasants. Bell observed their kinds of life and largely obtained her content from the stories shared by the Haiti women on Millet Mountain. They share their personal experiences and that of others and encourage one another of how they can come out of all these. The books present various topics including resistance in survival, expression, political and economic change, gender justice and transforming power. The aim of this paper is to compare the women of Haiti and Cuba in the role they play in the reformation of their countries.
Resistance in survival narrates how these freedom fighters struggled to survive as they fought for their freedom. For example, Marline Rose is shot, and her parents killed while she protested. Nevertheless, she continues fighting. Other had to provide for their families and involved heavy struggle. They fought while at the same time trying to survive.
Resistance in expression presented how the women used different forms to air their resistance. One belief was that, if power were for the rich, then resistance with a definite goal would then work for the poor. In their expressions, they used art such as painting brilliant colours. The painting consisted of jungles and animals which were not in Haiti. It served to show the cruelty of their oppressors.
Struggle for political and economic change was also among the items they discussed. Majority of the Haiti people were peasants, and the foreigners would grab the little wealth they had. The women for example, unable to pay for bus fare, had to wake up very early and walk several miles to the market. They believed that this could be done better. Power was also to incorporate even the poor.
Gender justice was also another resistance that came up. The women faced abuse such as rape, tortures, and oppression among other inhuman acts. Among the struggles, the women fought for include equitable distribution of resources and justice which seemed not to be granted (Bell, 2001). They fight for gender-specific rights such as active participation of women in the powers of the country and also access to various services.
In the transformation of power, the focus was not just a shift from their status such as wealth, gender roles or from left to right, for better governance by the leaders or such. The struggles were that they make take over the power completely that they may rule on their own on their best know-how. It would, therefore, involve the creation of new human and social relations. For instance, the conscientization and empowerment which brought about the formation of various women groups and movements as they fight for their rights. Such factors contributed to the success of the coupe which took place and changing the country's political history.
In her research, Bell largely depended on stories that were narrated by the women I Haiti. She also collected her data from interviews of individuals in Haiti who would give their personal experiences during the oppression error. Her analysis involved a critical analysis of these experiences with comparison to the current justice state in the world.
The book is supported by testimonials from individuals which give a vivid picture of what happened. This deters any biases or the euphemization of the cruellest activities done by the Spanish colonist. One of the ladies describes how brutal it was by saying she has no tongue to express the experiences, meaning that words can't just describe it. Therefore the book becomes more real. The weakness is that it heavily depends on the experiences of the people, not considering if there were circumstances that led to their treatment. For example, they might have probably been going against the rules of the government which led to the experiences.
The book has played an important role in contributing to various field of gender, feminism, cultural, social and political studies. It presents how the women, seen as an inferior human among the Haiti people took part politically active in transforming their country. The women held to their culture despite those who were absorbed into the Spanish cultures. Their struggles, being women in a gender-biased society contribute to the fact that women have equal power with men according to the principles of feminism.
In comparison to the Haiti women, the Cuban women currently do not appear to that aggressive. The majority are relaxed and do not fight for any betterment of their status. It is apparent that they are satisfied with the rights granted to women and children through the revolution (Smith & Walter, 2016). The majority are being encouraged to be active and take an active role in the country. Unlike the Haiti women whose aim was to take over power, the Cuban women seem not to go in that direction.
Before the revolution, the Cuban women took part in the resistance against the Batista dictatorship. Movements such as the Frente Civico de las Mujeres Marianas and Mujeres Unidas Oppositionists were formed in protest against the dictatorship by women (Montaner, 2017). They also formed their military groups with the assistance of the revolutionary leader Fidel Castor. Even though the majority of the participant in the resistance were women, it was clear that it was not a feminism war but a struggle for the rights of all.
The women faced issues such as gender inequality and injustice. This was an error of patriarchy, and little considerations were on women and children. For example, in the labor force, only about 17% of posts were occupied by women and the rest men. Many women were denied education and taken to the domestic producers and keepers of homes (Smith, 2016). Respect for a woman was also unheard of especially from their male counterparts. It was thus difficult for the women to take part even in political activities. The rise of the movement led by Castor was the onset of the participation of the women, the majority of whom. These were thus among the gender issues and the injustice that these women faced. So many women took part that it seemed as if it was a movement for women rights. The Cuban women thus, like the Haiti women served as the major agents of change in the country.
In conclusion, walking of fire and the research of Cuban women have depicted the fact that women can be agents of change in society. The demonstration of braveness, courage, and hope by these women is something to be admired. I am fighting amidst people who do not regard than was a real struggle. Struggling also along with family problems, poverty, persecution and even threat to one's life did not deter their determination. Therefore, change and the betterment of the society is a role that everyone can achieve irrespective of gender and social, economic and political strength.
Bell, B. (2001). Walking on fire: Haitian women's stories of survival and resistance. Cornell University Press.
Montaner, C. A. (2017). Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution: Age, Position, Character, Destiny, Personality, and Ambition. Routledge.
Smith, R. C., & Walter, I. (2016). Understanding the Cuban transition. The Independent Review, 20(4), 531-546.
Scott, H. C. (2016). Caribbean women writers and globalization: Fictions of independence. Routledge.
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