Sexism in Diaz’s Stories
Speaking from a layman’s perspective, it could be true that the stories in the book, This Is How You Lose Her, are sexist in nature. However, this would be too final leaving no room for further debate. Diaz tries to make the reader get intimate with the voice of Yunior. This cannot be achieved if one calls him sexist since this will remove empathy and replace it with disgust. Diaz tries this so much that he even uses unofficial language in the attempt to write contemporarily. He knows that using traditional European English will not help his cause.
Yunior is at first presented as a fearless young man discovering life and the joys of romance. His father is absent most of the time leaving the modeling up to his brother (Diaz 2012, p.29). He is confused about it all at first but this does not stop him from discovering what those erotic feelings were all about. This presents a confused young man ruining the lives of numerous young women. Can one blame him? Possibly. This is because the conservative reader would have desired for Yunior to be patient until he could grasp what was really expected of him in relationships, which he did not do. However, one question can be asked, who waits apart from maybe the scared teenager?
All this natural depiction of a confused young man in the stories in the most effective way subverts the aspect of sexism. It tells the story as it is. Yunior knows no better thus one cannot really claim that he has vowed to utilize his male privilege at the expense of the women in his life. At one point the reader gets the feeling that Yunior would have wanted to maintain all the relationships that he had sabotaged; if only he knew how to. As the story ends, anger, disappointment and regret replace all of Yunior’s confusion. This obviously does not make the reader completely forgive Yunior’s past faults but it does bring forth some form of pity. The reader sees his regret at mistakes that he cannot undo, broken hearts that he cannot fix. This further proves that this book is not so intent at bringing out the theme of sexism as it is on presenting the journey to maturity of Yunior.
In conclusion, confused young men do a lot of damage when it comes to sweet young females. This is mostly done as they try to define who they are and what is important. Without clear role models and societal examples of how to treat females, things may end up quite messed up. Demonstrating this journey in literature is not an easy feat since so many themes can be misunderstood. However, that is the whole purpose of literature (Smith 2006, p.681). Diaz does a perfect piece of literature explaining the troubles of young men. Literature would not be excellent if it had no misunderstandings. It is up to the reader to grasp its true meaning from all its ambiguity.
Diaz’s Work of Contemporary Literature
Diaz has carefully captured what one can relate with regardless of where one comes from. This has gained his book, This Is How You Lose Her a contemporary status. The reader does not feel excluded but rather part of Yunior’s life. This is mostly achieved by the use of the first person narrative voice. His choice of language is also relatable to both the Hispanics and Americans giving it an edge in joining the two different nations. It is the language used by the occupants of the nations. The themes of romance and heartbreak are also relatable to almost everyone in this present time and day.
American literature has never been completely definitive. Artists have always gone beyond what is traditional making it unique. This is what Diaz has done and much more since he has included characters with similarities with others around the globe based on the human developmental stages. He has not focused only on what happens in America but rather around the globe. He named his main character Yunior that is not a culture-specific name. He has made this character demonstrate his experiences in a soft manner and not necessarily coyly. This presents certainty that some crises do indeed happen to young men his age who might read the stories one time.
Remaining relevant is a constant struggle artist’s face in a changing world where almost everything is accessible (Erber 2013, p.29). This struggle requires an artist to connect to his or her audience in a way that they will remember their work and not just appreciate it. The best way to achieve this is not present to the audience everything but rather to give them the power to define what they want the art to represent. It is important to make them feel that it is up to them to decide the fate of a certain story. Yunior’s narrations never dictate what the reader should feel since different people will feel different emotions towards it in the first place. They just present relevant themes of confusion, experimentation, and love among others as well as imagery especially from American fiction, which most young men and women can relate to.
In conclusion, not leaning to a particular culture or people is key in gaining a transnational status in art. The crossing border is a step closer towards captivating a wider audience for any artist. In daring to be different, an artist shifts literature beyond a single country and into a global perspective. The choice of characters, themes, images and other literary forms also contributes to this. This is what Diaz achieved in his short stories such that people across the globe can read and understand his work, relating to the characters and being moved towards empathy rather than judgment. He lives out his work out in the open for the reader to decide upon it, which is what makes it planetary because different people will decide differently towards it.
Díaz, J. (2012). This Is How You Lose Her. New York: Riverhead Books.
Erber, P. (2013). Contemporaneity and Its Discontents. Diacritics, 41(1), pp.28-48.
Smith, T. (2006). Contemporary Art and Contemporaneity. Critical Inquiry, 32(4), pp.681-707.