Today's Quotes

"Champions have the courage to keep turning the pages because they know a better chapter lies ahead."

~Paula White

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Catalina de Erauso

I am Reading the book “Mujeres Olvidadas” (Forgotten Women)there I found the name of Catalina de Erauso known as the Lieutenant Nunalthough Catalina never formally became a nun. Her story is one of the most controversial that happened in the NewWorld.  Catalina lived in the 16thcentury, a time of conquistadors and in spite of the restrictions imposed onwomen during that time by the church and monarchy she decided to leave theconvent, change her identity and travel to America disguised as a man.  She broke with all the repressive norms againstwomen of her era and she was able to join the military and she was one of thefirst female adventurers in the New World.

She was sent as an intern in a convent of San Sebastian elAntiguo since she was 4 years old.  At 15after a beating by another nun, she escaped the convent, she cut her hair andshe disguised herself as a man.  In battlesshe was a great warrior.  She lovedgambling, horses, flirting with women and quarreling.  She was arrested because of a quarrel.  In jail, to avoid being sentenced, she askedfor clemency from the bishop, to whom she related her story.  She also assured him she was a virgin.  After some midwives proved that she was avirgin, the bishop sent her to Spain. There she was seen by king Felipe IV and she appealed that she came froma noble family and that she had fought for the crown.  The king allowed her to keep her militarystatus of Lieutenant and she received a significant reward for servicesrendered to the crown in the Americas and she was also able to keep her malename.  Her fame was such that when shevisited Rome Pope Urbano VIII authorized her to continue dressing as aman.  Since she didn’t like fame she decidedto go to Mexico where she started a transport business and she lived thereuntil her last days.

Catalina wrote an autobiography that was published in Francein 1829.  Her life was translated intovarious languages and has been an inspiration of other books, plays, zarzuelasand movies.

This story leaves me confused and I still can’t pinpointwhy.  On the one hand it proves that theroles assigned to women are just that, roles, they are not real, but imposed bysociety.  But on the other hand the partof virginity leaves me stunned, it is one more proof of men’s obsession withcontrolling female sexuality and as long as we respect the role of allowingthem sexual liberty while as women we abstain, even disguised as men, there isno problem.

Erauso Autobiography


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