Ruth Iyob’s article on Eritrean Women touched on an aspect of colonization we haven’t talked about lately. More in the beginning of the semester, we talked a lot about the image of land as a woman, and about the rape metaphor that goes along with that image when discussing colonization. The women in this article were absolutely taken advantage of in ways that the Italian public had no way of understanding.
I found it very interesting, but not particularly surprising, that these madamas were blamed for Italian failures. “Judged in colonial texts as being guilty of imbestiamento, which can be roughly translated to mean the “turning of men into beasts,” the madamas were blamed for Italian military incompetence, from the Adwa defeat to the later unraveling of the Empire During World War II.”pg 233
Iyob kept using the phrase “comfort wife” and “comforts of the home.” I’m assuming as these were always put in quotations, that this was the terminology used at that time, to avoid any suspicions of prostitution coming from the home land. The way Iyob describes the portrayal of these women was very interesting. Their sexualization not just in the colony but also in Italy was striking. “…image of a nude Eritrean woman attempting to replicate the pose of Botticelli’s Venus…” pg 234
(When I tried to find an image of a “comfort wife” I kept getting a failed search engine. It could have been my improper search terms but I found it very telling that nothing came up.)