CAPIRAL, Ma. Alyanna Mae L.
III-8 AB/BSE Literature
Dr. Ma. Antoinette Montealegre Literary Criticism
Desire: A Feminist Literary Theory
Feminist criticism is a political act whose aim is not simply to interpret the world but to change it by changing the consciousness of those who read and their relation to what they read. -Esther Lombardi, About.com She wanted love, was starved for it. But she did not want the love that her body inspired in men. She wanted something purer… cleaner. - Desire, Paz Latorena 1928.
I was amazed upon discovering that the short story Desire was written in 1928. The time was very repressive and judgmental for women or womyn for some feminist. Even up to know, with modernity, even with changing roles of the society for men and women, women are judged and have been the target of massive stereotyping. I remember when I was in high school; these thoughts lingered in my mind for a long time. Men are called “macho” when they have a lot of women while women are called “prostitutes”. Where is equality? , judgment of the society is really biased. It is acceptable for a man having many children of different mothers while women having many children of different fathers are immoral and unacceptable. Also beauty is just skin deep, more often than not face value is more important than the inner side of a women. Most of men just don’t care if women are dumb and gullible. Looks are more important. Also, with intelligent women, some of men are intimidated and do not like the idea that they are outshined by women. I could cite many instances and ideas on how I view our society with men being the superior and women are just decorations for them. Often, I am tagged by my friends as a feminist. I just don’t like the idea of being submerged into an existing order where the only essence of a woman is to procreate. The problem is the existing
structure--- Patriarchal and Machismo (even feminist are already making their mark, and breaking the stereotypes), our culture has a big role on how women are viewed. Going back to the short story, it was truly a remarkable short story written by a woman during a period where not much respect and recognition are given to women writers in the Philippines. Most of the literature world is male dominated. Only at this later part, women writers are put into their rightful places. The short story started with a detailed description of a woman (who is categorized now as a shrimp or hipon in gay language). A homely women as referred by the writer Paz Latorena even with the use of the word homely makes me think that the writer some how implicitly hid the negative connotation of having a homely face. She could just straightly say ugly but she rather not. I think for the purpose of not being too harsh on women as to women should not be judged hastily. A language of a woman like Paz Latorena has the power to make the negative seem to be not that negative. The longing for love like all human being do is present in the story the difference is that the woman is homely yet she has a gorgeous body not only that she diverts her frustrations and hurt into worthwhile things like writing. I think what the writer wants to say is that women are not just mere figures or warm bodies in bed but also human not devoid of feelings. Racial discrimination is somehow present in the story too with the White man at first being judgmental of the Filipino race. Upon recognizing that the unnamed woman’s ideas are the same as his race, he took interest in meeting the lady. At first the white man took interest of getting to know the woman but in the end upon discovering that she has the right curves in her body(only hidden by the clothing she choose to wear), he said he loves the girl but not the total being of her but only her body.
In the end of Desire, uttered by the woman, “You have just been yourself…like other men.” and with a weary smile the story ends. It is like a hanging ending for the readers to create their own ending. Like if the woman will find love, or will the man prove that he is sincere to her or not. For me, the effect of this masterpiece of Latorena is that women must learn to channel their energy into productive work like writing, also that women does not need men even she needs love it is not the end of the world with men judging a female because of her physical characteristics. I think that the Latorena wanted to show that unlike in early Philippine Folklore women would always weep and feel helpless of their situation with Paz Laterona’s Desire eventough the woman is not that empowered yet I think she is in the process of being one . Also, we could look in an aspect that upon their meeting of the men, she came alone and stated that she could afford to break conventions. I assume that the woman in the story is intellectual and educated woman. The stereotype of a weak woman is not showed by her. The language of Latorena does not have any mark of derogatory language or language that would make the readers feel pity on the character but the language used is very descriptive and forms mental images and we could not find words that would make the woman be in a stage of drama or self pity. I am wondering if the short story is autobiographical. Upon checking the internet for her picture, my suspicions became stronger, that it was herself being describe in the text. The title “Desire”,could be in two interpretations : the desire of men for her body and the desire of the woman for a purer and cleaner love. This proves how man and woman differ in their perspective.
The Paz Latorena is successful in describing the plight of women of her time. Changing the consciousness of the reader that even in 1928, women are treated that way. That they should not be going on dates alone, that they must have a pretty face to find pure love. I like to point out that the woman needs love not a man. She never stated she needed a man but rather a pure love. With this, I assume that she is longing for a society that does not judge a person by looks, not by color, also not by gender but with her productivity, and if the person’s intellectual capacity, with how he/she expresses him/herself openly.
http://classiclit.about.com/od/feministtheory/Feminist_Theory_Womens_Studies.htm Desire, Paz Latorena