The theme of 'Gender' is a heavy one in How The García Girls Lost Their Accents, because it reveals some unflattering things about characters that are otherwise pretty chill. Papi, for example? He's totally sexist. His daughters, in his opinion, need constant supervision and scolding, because otherwise they're sure to tarnish the family name.
The García sisters rebel against their father's (and family's) sexist rules and declare themselves feminists. But they have a hard time getting any of the aunts or cousins to join their movement. And as an adult, Yoyo thinks maybe it's better to keep quiet and do what she wants, rather than raise feminist consciousness. Did her quieter female relatives have the right idea all along?
Questions About Gender
How does Papi feel about women? What does he think makes a woman "good," and what makes her "bad"? What does he think the difference is between men and women?
Is it ironic that Yoyo and her three sisters become such enthusiastic feminists even though they were raised in such a sexist environment? Or do you think feminism is a natural reaction to their family's sexism?
Is it fair to say that the four García sisters are feminists, while the rest of their female relatives are not? Do Mami or any of the aunts or female cousins do anything to break or bend the rules governing female behavior in their family?
In the novel, are ideas about gender different in the United States than they are in the Dominican Republic? Are Dominican men necessarily more sexist than American men? Do some characters change their attitudes about gender or their gendered behavior based on where they are?
Chew on This
As a teenager, Yolanda thinks it's important to speak out about how unfairly women are treated in Dominican society. But when she grows up, Yolanda thinks it might be a better tactic to keep quiet and do what she wants on the sly. Her change in attitude reveals that there's more than one way to be a feminist.
While sexist ideas come under more scrutiny in the United States than they do in the Dominican Republic, the García sisters still encounter plenty of sexist American men.