Exemplary Women

La Voz de Galicia – March 15, 2019 →

Cristina PatoExemplary women and heroines are everywhere in Galician history. Some time ago, Rocío Castro encouraged me to read about the fascinating case of the Santa Isabel shipwreck off the coast of the island of Sálvora in 1921, and about the four women who made history with a fishing boat and with support on land. They were Cipriana Oujo, Josefa Parada, María Fernández, and Cipriana Crujeiras. The first three rescued approximately a dozen castaways with their small boat while the last woman provided ground support. Xosé María Fernández Pazos’ book, Sálvora: Memory of a Shipwreck, documents the history not only of the shipwreck but also of life in the area at that time.

Following my personal fixation with the representation and visibility of invisible realities, this story caught my attention. In their day, these four women were hailed as the Heroines of Sálvora. As I read one of the articles on the subject referencing the anniversary of the shipwreck, I realized how much my way of reading news that speak about women’s capabilities changed, especially when these capabilities are described by men.

I had been mulling over the theme of “superwomen” that I had written about a few weeks ago, and again I began to ask myself: What is it that makes heroes go down in history while heroines are forgotten? How many invisible heroines are there in the history of Galicia?

During this feminine and feminist March, let us reflect on the male bias of our history, and let us support those attempts to revise all our histories so that we are able to have a more pluralistic and realistic vision of our cultural identity.

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