A blog dedicated to Latin American and Latin@ identity, politics, history, music, culture, literature, film, art and love.
So, in my previous post, I explain the simplified story of La Cegua.
It is a very colorful myth, and it’s very exciting and magical and all that good stuff that folklore should be.
Now, one day, as I finish explaining the legend to a white feminist coworker, she immediately, without the slightest reflection of what I had just told her, exclaims, “I want that as a tattoo!”
So, through all of the shade that I was throwing at her, I was—at the same time—trying—for the life of me—to understand what profound connection La Cegua, an important mythological figure in rural Central American communities, had on my white coworker from New Jersey, or Kentucky, or where ever else white people come from.
From what I gathered, she very much ‘liked’ (Note white Americans: like≠ connected culturally to, which more often than not leads to appropriation, which is bad) the idea of a “defenseless” woman killing a man planning to rape her. Now, this is indeed very feminist, I agree. However, the layer that her white, second-wave feminism blinded her to, is the colonial commentary.
She forgot to take into account the very, very important fact that the woman is INDIAN. She is an indigenous figure. The connection with her being indigenous and the man’s (mostly likely of white, or castizo race) intent to RAPE her provides a stunningly sophisticated metaphor of indigenous vengeance—or, also, the vengeance of the land itself against its violators, its conquerors.
In another famous Costa Rican myth entitled ‘La Yeguita’ (The Little Mare), the Virgin of Guadalupe transmutes herself into a mare to intervene and protect the lives of Costa Rican men in conflict. The imagery of the mare/horse are very important in metaphorizing the way that femininity is seen under the watchful eyes of Latin American patriarchy. The woman can be seen as holy, or as the devil—she has the power to chastise and forgive them, or she can be their ruin. La Virgen y la Chingada.
So, while it might be cute to be Occupying Wall Street or going to a Williamsburg bar and showing off your Cegua tattoo, you won’t have the cultural knowledge and connection to give its true power, its true meaning, and its true spirit.
One of These Mornings I Murdered Myself,
on some dusty Mexican road, and the event left a deep impression on me.
This wasn’t the first crime I committed. From the time I was born in Ohio seventy-one years ago and received the name Ambrose Bierce, until my recent death, I have played havoc with the lives of my parents and various relatives, friends, and colleagues. These touching episodes have splashed blood over my days—or my stories, which is all the same to me: the difference between the life I lived and life I wrote is a matter for the jokers who execute human law, literary criticism, and the will of God in this world.
To put an end to my days, I joined the troops of Pancho Villa and chose one of those many stray bullets zooming through the Mexican skies these days. This method proved more practical than hanging, cheaper than poison, more convenient than firing with my own finger, and more dignified than waiting for disease or old age.
-Eduardo Galeano, Century of the Wind