History abounds with Eves. Right from the very beginning, the book Genesis gave us our first Eve who was born from the ribs of Adam, the mother of all humankind. It was a name that was bound to be reborn in significant women throughout the ages. For it to define the person of Argentina’s Eva Peron was highly foreseeable, understanding the truth that “while history may be linear, herstory is told in cycles” (Ibabao, 2003, Tala on Sacred Ground). Her story clearly imprints Evita as the “perfect popular culture icon for our times because her career foreshadowed what, by the late 20th century, had become common” (Fraser & Navarro, 1996).
Furthermore: During Evita’s time it was considered scandalous for a former entertainer to take part in public political life. Her detractors in Argentina had often accused Evita of turning public political life into show business. But by the late 20th century, the public had become engrossed in the cult of celebrity and public political life had become insignificant. In this regard, she was perhaps ahead of her time. Evita’s story is appealing to our celebrity-obsessed age because her story confirms one of Hollywood’s oldest cliches, the rags to riches story. (p. 194) Popularity of Juan Domingo and Eva Peron
According to Fraser and Navarro, when Evita sought to create a personality cult around her husband, whom she elevated to a nearly divine status, and saying that all Peronist must be ready to die for Peron, “this apotheosis was what ultimately corrupted Peron and debased the Peronist movement. ” It came to a point when Juan Peron can no longer be criticized. Evita, Fraser and Navarro continue, even stated explicitly that only the Peronists were truly Argentine, and anyone who was anti-Peronist was not truly Argentine. “Peron is the heart, the soul, the nerve, and the reality of the Argentine people.
We all know that there is only one man in our movement with his own source of light. We all feed off of that light. And that man is Peron! ” – 1951 speech by Eva Peron As Evita created her husband’s popularity, she herself ultimately became the center of that vast personality cult, with her image and name widely distributed. The Argentines loved her; they looked to her as a living inspiration, projecting the Argentina who empathizes with the poor and the women who make up the majority of her population. She was the heroine that her people need to deliver them from the wave of poverty.
She was the first to truly listen to the poor who needed her charity, and she was the first to help them magnify their voices. Evita was loved by the people not only because she had an impoverished background which they can relate to, but more importantly because she acknowledged her beginnings and campaigned aggressively to elevate the Argentine way of life. In his own right, Juan Peron has earned his share of popularity among the Argentines. As Fraser and Navarro claim, by the time Edelmiro Julian Farrell was president and Peron was his appointed Labor Minister, the latter was the most powerful man in the Argentine government (p.
158). This power and popularity, which was strongly supported by the Descamisados, or “the shirtless ones” referring to the workers and the poor of Argentina, invoked fear in his opponents within the government because it had the potential of eclipsing that of the sitting president. If Evita was ever guilty of always justifying her actions by claiming that it is the wisdom and passion of Peron inspiring her, she is only fulfilling her role as an Argentine woman who is constantly behind her husband.
It was claimed that “everything Evita did was subordinate to the larger goals and aims of her husband’s political agenda” (Fraser & Navarro, 1996). Moreover, it appears that Juan and Eva Peron’s union was also a match made in heaven. The couple may differ in some, but like Peron, Evita was home-grown when it came to her background, education and being. Feminism As Fraser and Navarro write, “while Eva Peron did not consider herself a feminist, her impact on the political life of women was decisive.
” Through her initiative, many women who were previously never given a voice, a choice, or never cared much before about political affairs became “the first women to be active in Argentine politics” (Fraser & Navarro, 1996). Evita’s feminist works may have officially begun when she joined the Sociedad de Beneficencia (Society of Beneficence), a charity group made up of 87 society ladies which was responsible for most charity works in Buenos Aires prior to the election of Juan Peron. However, by the time Peron sat in office as president, the institution had significantly altered its priorities and perspectives.
When the society ladies declined appointing Eva Peron as president of their charity by tradition due to her poor beginnings, lack of formal education, and previous profession as an entertainer, Evita created her own foundation, the Eva Peron Foundation, on July 8, 1948 (cited in Fraser & Navarro, 1996). It “began as the simplest response to the poverty (Evita) encountered each day in her office” and “the appalling backwardness of social services – or charity, as it was still called – in Argentina” (Fraser & Navarro, 1996, p. 158). The foundation became her lifeblood; it consumed her and she welcomed it.
Evita selflessly made herself available to the poor who requested help from her foundation. Fraser and Navarro write that “during these meetings with the poor, Evita often kissed the poor and allowed them to kiss her. Evita was even “witnessed placing her hands in the suppurated wounds of the sick and poor, touching the leprous, and kissing the syphilitic” (1996). They continue to write that through these sincere acts compassion and empathy, she “ceased to be the President’s wife and acquired some of the characteristics of saints depicted in Catholicism. ”
As Evita’s foundation engulfed her more, she likewise became more emotional when it came to poverty, and she was quoted saying, “Sometimes I have wished my insults were slaps or lashes. I’ve wanted to hit people in the face to make them see, if only for a day, what I see each day I help the people” (Fraser and Navarro, 1996). Apart from her preoccupation with the Eva Peron Foundation and her initiative which made Argentine women more involved in political affairs, Evita has “often been credited with gaining for Argentine women in general the right to vote” (Fraser and Navarro, 1996).
She was said to have supported this right by making radio addresses and publishing articles in her Democrasia newspaper. But it was through Juan Peron’s signing of the law granting women the right to vote and symbolically handing Evita the bill that women’s suffrage finally became a reality. Among others, she also created the Female Peronist Party, the nation’s first female political party of a sizeable number, with 500,000 members and 3,600 headquarters across the country according to Fraser and Navarro. Evita’s impact on Argentine society
It is an understatement if this reader states that Eva Peron is to this day the most recognized woman in Argentine history. Evita Peron effected such a great change in the Argentine society in favor of women and the needy. Fraser and Navarro write that seeing Evita earn the favor of the working class et al, Juan Peron was even surprised, and it “indicated to him that Evita had become as important to the members of the Peronist party as Juan Peron himself was” (p. 158). This great secular support was demonstrated by the mass rally of two million called “Cabildo Abierto.
” A few days after the mass rally, Evita officially addressed as the “Spiritual Leader of the Nation”. Such a story is sensational in itself. It ignites what we deem ordinarily impossible. Born out of wedlock to a poor household, a simple girl dreamt of becoming a star. Her dreams were big, Evita perhaps knew that she was destined for great things. Then Argentina went ahead and made her larger than life.
Fraser, N. , & Navarro, M. (1996). Evita: the real life of Eva Peron. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Co. , Inc.