By Ana Maria Hanssen
ARGENTINA: Evita Peron is probably the best known Argentine woman in recent history. She has become an international icon to the point that women in beauty pageants often mention her name, along with Mother Theresa’s, when asked to name a role model.
I have to confess that although I recognize she was a leader in this country, she is not on my list of role models.
It’s nothing personal. It’s just that I find it a bit cliche.
Maybe it’s because I’m from Colombia and I have only been living in Buenos Aires for a year. Maybe it is just a matter of opinion. Maybe it’s because I’ve never been a feminist, but rather someone who believes in equality.
Perhaps it’s because many in this country use her name to gain popularity or to compare her with other women.
Last month, Cristina FernÃ¡ndez de Kirchner was democratically elected president of Argentina, something Evita herself never accomplished.
Argentina President Cristina FernÃ¡ndez de Kirchner addresses a group with Evita Peron’s image hanging in the background.
And even though many suspect Cristina wants to emulate Evita, analysts have said that on the contrary, her tendency is to be more like PerÃ³n.
I think having a woman in power is definitely a step forward, but I also need to clarify that this step forward has to be a collective one.
In other words, a woman’s success as an individual must have an impact on all women.
Many have seen her victory as an individual advancement in part due to an attitude that seems to want to distance itself from her femininity — which has nothing to do with makeup or clothing.
When she won in the province of Buenos Aires, many analysts labeled her speech as “masculinized” because she first thanked the men in the province.
She also failed to show up for a dinner, which the governor offered in honor of all the women who won within her party the “Frente para la Victoria.”
Was it another conscious attempt to distance herself from her status as a woman because she herself sees it as a disadvantage?
If this were the case, she wouldn’t be too far from those women who voted for her because they consider her good-looking, or those who didn’t vote for the runner-up Elisa CarriÃ³ because she had gained weight, or those who admired Evita not for her principles, but for her fashion sense.
I hope Cristina distances herself from Peron and begins to stand a little closer to all women, so that she may find a political middle ground that includes all Argentines, as well as us immigrants, without regard to sex.
And for those who still admire Evita, I hope they’ll continue to do so not only because she was a woman.
Learn more about Ana MarÃa
Ana MarÃa Hanssen is a 30-year-old Colombian journalist and freelance writer currently living in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
She is the author of “Holocausto en el silencio”, a book that details the 1985 siege of the Supreme Court palace in Bogota by the M-19 guerrillas – one of the most painful episodes in Colombian history.
As a result of the Army’s violent reaction to this equally violent act, more than one hundred people died — including the nation’s Supreme Justices — eleven still remain missing.
The book won the Colombian Literature Prize for best non-fiction book in 2006.
Ana MarÃa has worked for media in Los Angeles, California; MÃ©xico, Colombia and in her new home, Argentina.