Response to “Madamismo and Beyond”

I found this article to be interesting but not entirely clear. By the end of it, I was still unsure as to what message she was trying to convey. I understand that her goal was to “examine the representation of the Eritrean madama in colonial discourse to show how it misrepresents the sociocultural, economic, and political context within which the “comfort wife” operated,” but I was still confused by the end of the article on how she achieved this goal.

I did like her point on the pictures taken of the “comfort wives” and they portray the “duality of their existence.”  Even though the Eritrean customs did not allow adults to expose themselves in such a manner, these pictures show these women as naked, exposing “them to the gaze of many more people than their contractual husbands.” The way that I interpreted this was that these “comfort wives” were trying to stay true to who they were but had to change in order to appease their new husbands. I was confused on her point that the postcards with these naked pictures on them would entice new settlers to come help “civilize” the nation. Perhaps what she meant was that the postcard showed that there was still “civilizing” work that needed to be done due to the naked image on the postcard (I am assuming that at the time, public nudity was seen as “uncivilized”) but the way that I would have looked at it would have been showing and using the idea of the “exotic” that we have talked about before.

Another point of interest was the quote from General Graziani. I found it extremely interesting that the government was trying to do all that they could to provide “sexual relations” for the soldiers by setting up brothels for them to attend when their needs rose. This interested me because I found it surprising that the government would take such a keen interest in whether or not their soldiers sexual needs were being met or not. Perhaps the reason for this was because of all of the interracial relationships that were going on against Mussolini’s command.  I can’t image an army now taking such keen interest in this subject but perhaps I am just not aware that it also happens today.

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