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Death and the Maiden: Toxic Masculinity Stands Trial

The victim in this play being a woman shows that even in a dictatorship, death is not the only injustice that needs to be brought to the attention of the government. Paulina has had to live 15 years of her life dealing with these unspeakable acts and not being able to do anything about it. Women in this text are poked fun at plenty of times, and it seems that the theme of not believing women is prevalent here. Men suffered violence and death as well, but Paulina had her dignity forever stripped of her and these memories have never left her. The system, even a democratic one, is always flawed when it comes to believing women when they claim rape. This idea that even the person she considers closest to her doesn’t believe her exemplifies that idea that nobody ever believes women when they talk about rape and that idea that the system put in place would rather have them be silenced. Gerardo takes his wife’s perpetrator’s side, and on multiple occasions insists that women are crazy. Gerardo says, ” You know women…,” on p.14 of the text when referring to his wife. This statement was only the beginning of many other truths that Gerardo was to share on his opinion of women later on. Roberto says on page 18,” Of the two things you never share, my friend, one is your toothbrush.” This statement alludes to this other unsaid thing men do not share is women. This is ironic in both the senses that come to find out Roberto hadn’t only raped his wife, but when he had raped her, it had been with a group of men, therefore; sharing a woman. Centering women in the middle of all of this social disorder about injustice within the government and enacted by a truth commission shows how even after the dictatorship has ended, it seems women were still going to be denied that voice they needed in accusing their rapists. Paulina’s husband is involved in both matters personal and professional, as he’s on the commission board and he doesn’t support her in either aspect. It feels like it is Paulina against the world and she’s been living through a nightmare that will never be brought to justice, and even at the hands of a man who claims to love her she cannot find anyone to really and truly hear her.

One thought on “Death and the Maiden: Toxic Masculinity Stands Trial”

  1. It seems so important to think about the relationship between the offhand comments Roberto and Gerardo make to each other about women – the early ones, of course, not in the context of any actions that are specific to Paulina or her treatment of Roberto – and the gender issues that come up surrounding the Truth Commission. Hope we talk more about this today.


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