I taught Judith Ortiz Cofer‘s “The Myth of the Latin Woman: I Just Met a Girl Named Maria” this term, and my students and I discussed various ways in which the myth of the Latin woman, as it is replete with associations to sensuality and food, becomes material in culture. It seems that the details coming out of the prostitution scandal involving the secret service is one clear example of the real-life consequences of this myth. Or maybe it is a clear example of how it may not be a myth at all.
Juliana Jimenez, in writing for slate.com, notes that, “That this happened, I believe, is a result of, and will add to, the image of overly sexualized Latin American women,” adding that “a beautiful moment of transnational bonding took place in this scandal: both sides of the Caribbean did their part to reduce women to their sexuality and perpetuate the stereotype of the over-sexualized Colombian woman” (XX Factor, 4/17/2012).
Writing as long ago as she did, it seems that Ortiz Cofer’s claims as to the effects of holding such an image of the Latin American women continue to stand even today. And that image is likely to be around for a bit longer: