Violence Against Women Act

Women’s role for centuries has remained the same, to be a stay-at-home wives. In the twentieth century, they were still expected to stay at home and take care of their family. The expectations of marriage differ from culture to culture but women’s rights did no throughout the world. After the Civil War any chances that were built for equality were destroyed (Waller). They had to start from the bottom again. Author Sandra Cisneros reflects some of the issues Mexican women encounter in marriage and as immigrants in her short story Woman Hollering Creek.

Marriage was a dream come true to many women but for Cleófilas it soon would become a nightmare.

Cleófilas’s marriage expectation was of the telenovelas she watched daily for entertainment. Fascinated with passion and finding the love of her life, the one she will do whatever she can, whatever she must, at whatever cost (Cisneros 1401). In the current telenovela she is watching the main character goes through many hardships in her relationship but remains loyal and loves her man no matter what.

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Like many women she idolizes what love is supposed to be, to only be disappointed. During this era, marriage was everything to women. It was very unfortunate to end up with a bad husband because divorce was not common and barely legal until 1969 but even then many women stood in bad marriages because that is what was expected of them.

Following tradition Don Serafin, Cleófilas’s father gives her permission to marry Juan Pedro and live across the border in Seguin, Texas.

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In Mexican culture, fathers give away their daughters and give approval of whom they are marrying. Neither had suspicion that he was an abuser or would ever hurt her. The last thing a woman is expecting is abuse from the love of her life. For centuries it was ok for men to abuse women in a discrete way. There were no laws protecting women from any type of abuse, it was not until the U.S. Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. This law has not stopped the abuse as we still have a large number of cases of domestic abuse and many cases go unreported.

The first time Cleófilas was abused by her husband Juan Pedro, she did not defend herself as she had always imagined (Cisneros 1403). Women never imagine going through this to be fully prepared. But just like the first time came for Cleófilas, it came for many women in this era. Like many men he quickly regretted his actions and cried of shame and got his woman back. Marriage was something men and women maintained together no matter what. Women were expected to stay in their marriage no matter how good or bad it was for them. Many women like the protagonist stay in marriages even when they get abused by their companions. They tell themselves this is part of being married. It was a difficult time for women as traditionally men could do whatever they please with their wives.

Since women had to stay at home, they depended on their husband to pay for everything. Even if women had anything of value, it all became her husbands once married. This would set up women to be useless by themselves. Society did a great job in setting women up to need men. The town she lived in was no different, “Town of gossips. The town of dust and despair” (Cisneros 1404). Once children were involved it only complicated things, for Cleófilas’s things got worse, and being an immigrant who only spoke Spanish with all her family in Mexico left her in pain all alone. You would think kids would make a marriage beyond meaningful but not the case here. Juan Pedro not only cheated while she was at the hospital but he also abuses her while pregnant.

Many women are too embarrassed to cry for help to their families. Sometimes from fear and others because they still love the abuser no matter the punches. For the protagonist it was difficult because not only was she an immigrant but she had no car or money. Women depended on their husbands unless they worked they had no money but the one the husbands provided to them. The thought of going to her father crossed her mind but soon was demolished with disgrace. Women often got trapped in relationships of abuse and unhappiness. Soon making marriage a contract they did not expected and regretted.

Not all women are fortunate to escape abusive marriages. Thirty-one percent of all women murdered in America by 1992 were killed by their husbands, ex-husbands, or lovers (Zorza 46). This was a time where men felt entitled and untouchable. Cleófilas’s like many reached her limits and took her chance the first moment she had. In her appointment she decides to confine in her doctor, who gets her help after seeing all the bruises on her body. The doctor calls her friend Felice who luckily is willing to help. It took a lot of courage for Cleófilas’s to walk away from a dream she waited for so long. Felice unlike many women during this time owned her own pick up truck. Very proud independent woman who helped Cleófilas’s escape her abusive husband. For women to own they had to be rich and allowed to drive but she was unmarried.

Whether Cleófilas’s idolizes telenovelas or not, marriage should not be abusive. No pain caused physically, emotionally or mentally to a women can be considered love. Sadly to mention, you can observe a similar pattern in modern society with Disney fairy tales. Young girls idolizing princesses and hoping to meet prince charming one day. Dreaming for a happily ever after that might never happen. The same traditions are being promoted, from cleaning, to staying at home and beauty being the best thing to offer. This was the end of an era where love was hardly the foundation of marriage, traditions and culture norms dominated marriages and women.

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Violence Against Women Act. (2023, Jan 21). Retrieved from

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