I wrote this essay because I’ve seen the many struggles that women go through daily. Every day I see domestic workers on my way to class on the metro with their cleaning supplies ready to work. Many of these women have stories such as the ones in the film, Maid in America. I see them again in the night going back home exhausted from working more than eight-hour shifts. There’s a reason why they work hard in order to provide for their families. These women are becoming stronger for themselves and their loved ones. The world is changing, and it is time for everyone to stand up against patriarchal systems to show the world that women have always worked as hard as men. There are going to be many challenges in life for women, and the decisions that they will make will impact them and their families as well. My paper analyzes the specific cases of Eva, Telma, and Judith featured in the film.
In order to succeed when accomplishing a dream, there are always struggles in the way and anyone wishing to succeed must overcome them. The documentary Maid in America, directed by Anayansi Prado, is about the struggles of three undocumented women, Telma, Judith, and Eva. Each woman is struggling and trying to overcome her problems in order to succeed in the United States. Telma is a nanny to a child who may not need her anymore when he grows up. She is very affectionate with the child as he is with her, but the reality is that one day he may not need her anymore and she will need to find another family to care for. Judith, a mother with four children in Guatemala and another child on the way, has to make a big sacrifice to help her family succeed. Eva, a former accountant in Mexico, works as a maid in the U.S., while attempting to be an accountant once again. Although many people believe that the man is supposed to be the head of the household and has to provide for the family, this is no longer the case for these women and many working families. As a consequence, they have to struggle to succeed in the U.S. as they need to work and provide for themselves and for their families who are still living in their home country.
In the traditional patriarchal culture, the man is the head of the household, the one who provides for the family. In Judith’s case, this is not her situation, both, she and her husband have to work to make ends meet. They need to send money to help raise their four daughters in Guatemala and to buy medicine for Judith’s mother. No one can plan his/her future accordingly, as in Judith’s case, there will always be roadblocks in life that one must overcome. Judith became pregnant and was unable to work before and after her son was born because she needed to take care of him (Prado). Life is unpredictable and in Judith’s story, having a child born in the U.S. was both good and bad. On the one hand, she has an additional mouth to feed along with her four daughters in Guatemala and her mother who needs medicine. On the other hand, Judith’s newborn represented a symbol of hope in her family, since one day when he gets older he could bring his siblings into the U.S. Judith’s situation contrasted with the patriarchal ideologies that exist in the Hispanic communities; similar to her husband, she also had to work to provide for the family. There are many families out there in the world like Judith’s family. She is one of the many strong women who instead of being housewives, decide to go to work and earn money to help support their families.
Furthermore, in the case of immigrant women, sometimes their kids are in another country, wishing that their mother was with them. Judith has no other choice than to go out and be part of the workforce to support herself and her family. The world is changing, and it is not enough for one person to be the provider of a household. There are women in situations like hers working jobs as housekeepers, making money to send to their families back home. Immigrant women see more opportunities in the United States, but, of course, there will be obstacles such as Judith’s pregnancy. In her case, Judith knew that her son would be a blessing to her family as he would be the first to be born in the U.S. as well as her first son (Prado). If Judith makes the decision of going back to her country, it will be nearly impossible for her to work and take care of a newborn at the same time. Sacrifices must be made in order for one to succeed and women are the one who make them the most. The sacrifices that women like Judith make are not in vain, eventually there is going to be another chance coming her way and she would be able to take it. She would take every opportunity because she is an example of how much a woman could sacrifice to help her family survive. Judith is one of many women in the documentary who have problems in their life and need to overcome them to help provide a better life for their families.
In the documentary, it is implied that Telma gives attention to Mickey as if he was her own son (Prado). It isn’t easy for a woman like Telma to do this job...
Life is full of changes that one must adapt to and overcome. In Mexico, Eva was an accountant. She had the career that she worked for, but when she came to the United States, she was not able to exercise her degree immediately. In order to become an accountant, she had to go to school and start all over again. Eva is an example of what happens to many people when they migrate to the U.S. In the film, she is seen as an independent woman struggling to achieve her dream of becoming an accountant. She relies on herself and her other domestic worker friends in the LLC to make ends meet despite tragedies that occur in her life. For instance, when one of her grandparents passed away, she persisted and continued with her life even if she wanted to go back to pay her respects (Prado). She knows that she can’t go back as she will not be able to return, so she stays strong and continues going on no matter how much she wants to go to the funeral. The willpower that she has is not present in many people, it would be hard to not to go back and see a loved one for the last time, still, she resists and moves on in life.
Eva is an example of a strong independent woman. Although being undocumented is preventing her from becoming an accountant in the U.S., she still works as a housekeeper to earn money while she takes tax courses. She states, “My accounting clients, they do not even imagine that in the mornings I go to clean houses,” (Prado). It has become more common for women like Eva to be independent as the patriarchy that once was is now slowly fading. There are women like Eva who have made something of themselves and are coming to the country to seek out better opportunities at the cost of taking jobs that they would usually not take in their native country. Eva was able to prove that she can do better than being a housekeeper; she started studying again and kept on working hard so one day she could be an accountant again. She made it far enough to be a part time accountant temporarily. She will continue to work hard against all odds and be an example to many women that it is possible to succeed even when there is no one to be looking out for them.
Women always struggle in life as they have duties at home and at work. However, when taking care of a child that is not their own, as in Telma’s case, jobs require more sacrifices. For instance, because Telma’s job is to take care of the Marbury’s kid, she has to give him all the attention that he needs. In the documentary, it is implied that Telma gives attention to Mickey as if he was her own son (Prado). It isn’t easy for a woman like Telma to do this job; it requires most of her time and effort to be a nanny for Mickey. She is almost a live-in nanny for the child. As a result, sometimes it is difficult for her to manage her time at home and at work. Telma struggles as an undocumented worker, she is not able to take other jobs since they require her to be a legal resident of the United States. She knows that her job is not guaranteed forever because one day Mickey will grow up and will no longer need her to take care of him. As a result, she would face to face many struggles in order to find a new job.
Undocumented women who are out in the workplace can only take jobs that require no background check. Not having work permits makes them invisible to the U.S. government. There are many problems that women such as Judith, Eva, and Telma face as female undocumented workers. One of them is being threatened by employers with deportation if they do not cooperate with them. Nevertheless, there are organizations that help them from being abused by their employers. In the film, Super Doméstica is a symbol of hope for women. Super Doméstica was created by the Coalition of Humane Immigrants’ Rights in Los Angeles (CHIRLA), an organization that helps workers secure their rights (Prado). Super Doméstica is a symbol of hope, just as are other superheroes in comic books and movies, such as Superman. Although superheroes are fictional, they are known to give hope to the people. This same role is played by Super Doméstica, he provides hope to domestic workers, she fights against the abuse of undocumented workers and immigration forces. Undocumented women cannot fight alone against employers who try to take advantage of them. Therefore, for them, CHIRLA becomes a symbol of hope. This organization would also help them secure their rights if the day came where they would be able to get amnesty and become citizens. These women are able to start an LLC company in which they have a business and pay taxes, so if the day were to ever come, they would not have to go through a more complicated process than it would already be to become legal workers in the United States. Even though these immigrant women struggle with problems of immigration, they are working with other organizations in order to help one another be on the path to a smooth transition to legal status in case the opportunity is presented one day.
Life is full of many challenges and women are strong enough to overcome them. Society is changing and moving forward; gone are the days in which women are supposed to be homemakers and take care of the family. The world is changing, it is time for everyone to stand up against the patriarchal systems, to show the world that they also work as hard as men. There are going to be many challenges in life for women, and the decisions that they will make will impact them and their families as well. An individual could have the opportunity to be successful in another place, but when it comes to migrating to a new country, there’s the possibility that one has to start all over again. In order to reach these dreams in a new country, it takes time, but it is possible to succeed. There are sacrifices that one must make in order to make ends meet, it is difficult to find a new job after losing the one that was held for a long time. This may require to start all over again and to go through emotional stress, but one must be able to move on. There are symbols of hope for every person and one day they will help overcome the life struggles of those people seeking for them. Women will continue to go against the patriarchal ideologies, and nothing can stop them, they are powerful, strong, and independent. Time after time women have proven to the world that they are capable of succeeding and overcoming their problems.
Maid in America. Dir. Anayansi Prado. Impacto Films, 2005. Kanopy. Web. 4 Nov. 2018.