Husband And Wife: The Semiotics Of Gender Roles In Latin America

2658 words - 11 pages

In most societies during the twentieth Century, new ways of analyzing traditional gender roles have begun to evolve out of a variety of movements both within art and culture studies and communications. Semiotics, or the study of signs has emerged as one of the most "powerful cultural analysis tools of the twentieth Century" . Semiotics has been used to document and support traditional gender roles within a variety of cultures. The signs of Husband and Wife respectively, have undergone huge ideological shifts in some parts of the world, however within Latin American society they still often used to represent a system of values and a distribution of power that have remained relatively ...view middle of the document...

that are connected to the tooth brush. The sign is the combination of the signifier and the signified, which complement each other, creating a system of cultural values that are entrenched within the perceived meaning of each sign . Within Latin American society some of the most ingrained cultural signs are those that refer to concepts of religion and gender roles. The signs of Husband and Wife within Latin American culture come with very powerful signified characteristics that define not only marital relations, but also the ways in which men and women function within society. In the movie "Amores Perros" the abusive and one-sided marital relationship of Maria and Rinaldo, is held together by Maria's constant unwavering commitment to her "Husband". Throughout this movie loyalty, duty, fear and a wide variety of other emotions associated with traditional gender relations are signified by the use of this sign. The character uses the socially implied signifiers of the term husband to assert her own cultural signifiers in regards to the sign of the wife. The opposition of the two signs both in the sense that they are cultural opposites as well as culturally linked, suggests that the signs of Husband and Wife act as signifiers, and imply the signified, of each other. This is mainly due to the fact that opposition rather than inclusion defines gender roles. As gender roles have begun to change within Latin American society the signifiers of both Husband and Wife must gradually become more inclusive rather than oppositional. When changes within society become more ideologically established and the signs surrounding Husband and Wife begin to change, they must be directly adopted by the majority of society in order to resignify traditional gender roles. This implies that the character of Maria must be unable to use the term Husband, knowing that it has signified meaning which allows for justified abuse within a relationship. Also the characters that she is interacting with must not be able to make the semiotic connection between the sign of Wife and the signification of passive acceptance of marital violence.The cultural evolution of signs and the concept of semiotics is interesting, particularly from a Latin American perspective as this appears to be a culture struggling towards gender equality, without a concrete focus on the language of these particular gender roles. The social conscience of individuals is one of the most important factors in determining the level of equality within a society, and the language is a reflection of this consciousness. If these language barriers and semiotic ideals are allowed to remain constant, women will merely be changing regulations instead of the consciousness of individuals, thus making the struggle for equality an extremely difficult task. Due to the level of male dominance within popular culture, women must take the initiative and understand that in order for the ideals of the women's movement to ever be totally...

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