Lieutenant Nun : Memoir Of A Basque Transvestite

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Catalina de Erauso’s memoir, Lieutenant Nun: Memoir of a Basque Transvestite in the New World, depicts gender relations in the early 17th century Spain. Erauso, through her detailed narrative of personal encounters with transvestism, reveals significant implications of the roles and expectations of the gender binary during this era. Her memoir evidently portrays gender binaries in dress, emotion, and interaction within society as she describes aspects of her journey from the perspective of both a woman and man. The male gender exhibits idealized masculine qualities, such as being violent and spontaneous, and the female gender exhibits idealized feminine qualities, such as emotional suppression and tranquility. Erauso expresses the distinct…show more content…
Erauso’s action in cutting her hair symbolizes her entrance into a new world of masculinity, as she “cuts ties” with the female gender. By transforming the way the outside perspective views her outward appearance, Erauso is able to persuade her audience of this new identity. Whether she partakes in transvestism as the act in itself or as a way to express her new identity, Erauso convinces those around her that she is a Spanish man simply by altering physical aspects. This is significant in that one’s hairstyle and dress are associated with a particular gender and each serve a purpose in the sphere they associate with. Dressing in breeches, a doublet, and a hose as well as sporting short hair supports the theory that men primarily focus on the public sphere, engaging in physical activity. Their clothing and hairstyle serve a purpose of the daily life of Spanish men during the 17th century.
Though differences in dress visually distinguish the two genders during this time period, one’s emotions also act as pointers for gender classification. Erauso exhibits the stereotypical masculine attribute of making rash decisions as a result of the inability to suppress anger. As a man, Erauso engages in verbal and physical quarrels with other men she encounters, and in most cases the reason behind them are trivial. One conflict in particular, Erauso plays cards with a merchant who is slowing giving into his
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