Everyday, stereotype is used in the society. Sometimes, when people use stereotype on other people, they don’t even recognize it because it’s so common and is ignored by the society. It’s a way to judge people through their common believes based on ethnicity, gender, skin color, appearance and language of the people who are being judged. For example, when people see a Vietnamese woman in her 20’s, 30’s and 40’s just migrated to America, they would assume that she will be working in a nail salon and flirt with some rich guys to get married with. Being stereotype is difficult deal with, and it’s really offended and hurtful. “The Myth of the Latin woman: I Just Met a Girl Named Maria” by Judith Ortiz Cofer and “Mother Tongue” by Amy Tan share some common and different stereotypes that they had to go through. In the story “The Myth of the Latin Woman: I just met a Girl Named Maria”, Judith Cofer wrote about her experiences being stereotyped as a Latin woman. In “Mother Tongue,” Amy shared her personal experiences being stereotyped with her language’s barrier.
Even though the two female authors shared the similarity for being stereotyped by the society, they faced different situations on the way they were stereotyped. In “The Myth of The Latin Women”, there are numerous stereotypes that Latin women are judged for. Being a Latin woman, Cofer was judged falsely. Clothing in the Latin culture is a means of expression. Cofer explains that woman and girls often wear brightly colored outfits, specifically dresses and skirts. The clothing that Latin women wear also has an influence on how others might see them. Cofer describes that, “As young girls, it was our mothers who influenced our decisions about clothes and colors,” Unfortunately, the media twisted this tradition, making it translate into “Hispanic women as the hot tamale or sexual firebrand” (245).
Another stereotype that Cofer experienced was that of the level and rate of her maturity. Latin women are often seen in a seductive way. Some people may mistake the way they dress as a sign as someone who is older, more mature, and more experienced than their actual age. “When a Puerto Rican girl dressed in her idea of what is attractive meets a man from the mainstream culture, …a clash is likely to take place,” (246). Cofer lived this and states how when a boy kissed her and she didn’t respond, “‘I thought you Latin girls were supposed to mature early,’” (246). Cofer speaks of this incident as another example as stereotyping by the media. This boy was brought up believing that girls who dressed in a certain “sexy” fashion must be different and more mature. Latin women are also shown in a different light in the media as apposed to white women. You often see Hispanic women in domestic roles, which leads them being cataloged.
Another incident where Cofer was stereotyped took place when she was older. Cofer was at a restaurant where she was doing her first poetry reading. A woman called her over to her table and “she ordered a cup of coffee from me (Cofer) assuming I was the waitress,” (247). Cofer recognizes that Latin woman are often put into a box that limit them to domestic duties. It is a stereotype that most Latin women have jobs that are more in the service end of domestic duties, i.e. waitresses, laundresses, housekeepers. Cofer used her poetry reading as a way to show all that just because she was Latin did not mean that she was illiterate or uneducated.
In this essay, Tan is likely to reach out to immigrant families that went through similar hardships on communication that she and her mother experienced. To many people, language was not seen as a form of communication, but as a barrier that cut them off from the world. This was a common problem for people coming from other countries or who grew up under privileged.
In any society something that is common to one person can seem unusual to another. Because of this confusion, stereotypes and prejudice can be formed. Cofer wrote this essay “The Myth of the Latin woman: I Just Met a Girl Named Maria,” as a way to expose the ongoing stereotyping Latin woman face. Cofer analyzes her experiences and shares her opinions on why they even happened. Cofer shared how the way Latin women dress is not to be “sexy” or to attract men. The women dress like that because thats is how there mothers dressed on hot islands. It was common to wear bright colored dress on a tropical island and not heavy clothing to stay cool. It is also a misconception that Latin girls are “fast” when it comes to their maturity.
Because they are seen in an alluring way, some people maybe think they are more sexually mature. Cofer clarifies that this is not the case, Latin girls mature and grow at the same rate as any other girl. Cofer also told a story of how because of her race a woman assumed she was a waitress in a restaurant. Another way of discrimination to Latin women, that all of them have jobs in the domestic field. Cofer really brings to light how easy it is to judge a person and use a stereotype against them. Cofer shows that if people took the time to talk and understand other cultures then all of these misunderstanding, wouldn’t be turned into stereotyping. Supporting Cofer in her efforts to stop this stereotyping from happening could make a big difference in how everyone will treat each other.