Women from Mexico often migrate to the United States of America in search of employment opportunities. The most popular sector in which migrants work is agriculture. Understandably, the women migrants usually opt to migrate with their husbands and other male members from their families. The agents who work for the employers on the migrants' behalf designate women and their children as the male migrants' agricultural helpers. The women migrants are usually paid less when compared to their male counterparts. However, in recent times, there has been a shift in the norm whereby some women are offered independent contracts that does not include their male colleagues (Marsiglia et al. 49). It should be noted that the number of women migrants working in the agricultural sector has been increasing as they are rapidly getting relevant documentation which makes them independent. Moreover, women who have no legal documentation usually wield less power and have low status in the host country.
It is worth noting that some of the research ideas outlined may enable us to get a better understanding of the play by Mexican-American playwright Josefina Lopez titled Real women have Curves. The play tells the story of immigrant Mexican woman called Ana. She recently graduated from high school and is an upcoming writer who dreams of enrolling in a college in New York. She currently works at a small clothing factory in East Los Angeles owned by her sister Estela, earning very little salary. Her coworkers in the factory include Carmen, her hypercritical mother; a barren woman called Pancha; and Rosali who is obsessed with diet pills. Most of the female characters in the play recently received their legal residency in the US. However, they still fear American custom officials after years of being in the country illegally.
The idea behind the Mexican women migrants in the research shows a connection with the female characters in the literary play who work in a tiny sewing factory. The characters literally converse about everything ranging from their husbands and lovers to their future aspirations. The struggles faced by Mexican migrant women in gaining a foothold in the agricultural sector in the United States by getting legal documentation is mirrored in Real Women Have Curves. In the play, Ana, the youngest of the five women has aspirations of going to college and becoming a revered writer. "...even with employer registration, migrant women usually report retention of documents and pay". Additionally, "domestic workers are often subjected to physical and sexual abuse." These quotes highlight the difficult situations Mexican women migrants often find themselves (Marsiglia et al. 49).
In the play, Ana says, "here in case he hugs me, here in case he kisses me." This quote highlights the fact that migrant women usually go to extreme lengths to make themselves attractive to men. It is evident that the women are viewed as objects of pleasing men as seen in the actions of Estela who sprays herself with perfume wherever Ana asks her to. Concerning the research article, female migrant workers are used as mere objects to satisfy the sexual needs of men in society (Marsiglia et al. 49). Also, Ana had little motivation to work in the sewing factory and a difficult relationship with her coworkers. It also points to the benefit of working together as women.
Real Women Have Curves: A Feminist Narrative of Upward Mobility by Christie Launius is a literary criticism article about the play. It helps the reader understand how the play delves into the issues of oppression based on gender, immigration status, class, ethnicity, and race. The article highlights how the Lopez manages to do this by depicting the characters' identities and how they interact with each other at the factory. According to Launius (16), ".....Lopez often shows the interconnected and simultaneous nature of these oppressions...". The article does a good job of showing how the play's author puts emphasis on the ethnic proportions of the female characters gender -based oppression, and how their social status is adversely affected by their immigrant status.
I agree with the article that the play does more than just document oppression of female immigrants in the United States. According to Launius (16), it ".....also dramatizes the developing political consciousness of its characters through their conversations while at work......". Whenever the female characters engage in any dialogue while working, they seem to be undergoing a process of attaining consciousness. It is evident that Carmen, Pancha and Rosali are going through a rather difficult time working in the factory for little pay. Also, despite getting legal residency, they still live in fear of custom authorities who are known to harass and even deport illegal immigrants. All in all, they share their experiences while at the workplace and advise each other on survival tactics. While the experiences they go through may be unpleasant, it makes them stronger and even more resilient in their fight against oppression.
One thing I don't agree with Launius' article is the idea that Real Women Have Curves is all about gender and ethnicity. According to Launius (17), ".....the overall analytical focus has been on issues of gender and ethnicity". In my own opinion, this is not true as the play also delves into various issues related to the characters' personal lives and general stereotyping. It mentions many things about perceptions of bodies. In particular, it mentions about individuals that are described as overweight or obese, which is considered a taboo in the larger American context. Under normal circumstances, being overweight is associated with laziness, a lack of discipline, or poor health. It is obvious that the female characters in the play are none of these things. Lopez underpins a new perception for figuring out the meaning of such bodies -both by racial categorization and by size.
In conclusion, the interconnection between Real Women Have Curves and the research article on Mexican migrant women highlight the need to appreciate female workers in every undertaking in society. More often than not, migrant women are mistreated in the host nations as they always labeled as helpers for men in the agricultural sector. As noted from the play, Ana became resilient in work despite harboring bigger dreams, and she recapped her experiences by writing a journal. She later wrote an essay that made her secure a journalism scholarship (Marsiglia et al. 49). This highlights the power yielded by women and the fact that they also have what it takes to enable them to achieve their dreams.
Launius, Christine. "" Real Women Have Curves": A Feminist Narrative of Upward Mobility." American Drama 16.2 (2007): 15-27.
Marsiglia, Flavio F., et al. "Acculturation and life satisfaction among immigrant Mexican adults." Advances in social work, 14.1 (2013): 49. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3881437/
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