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YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY CONSUMING MOTHER IN DIANA RAZNOVICH’S CASA MATRIZ ROSE MARIE BROUGHAM CONSUMERISM and the daughter-mother relationship in Diana Raznovich ’s Casa Matriz (1981) has been the subject of recent comment. Nora Glickman describes Casa Matriz as a parody of the consumption of feelings . From her perspective the idea of being able to purchase a different mother evokes the very common daughter-mother relationship in which “nadie tenía la hija que deseaba, ni la madre que hubiera querido tener” (95).1 For Catherine Larson, Raznovich’s satiric perspective of consumerism supports the gender stereotyping in the work. Larson suggests that the substitute mother in Casa Matriz serves as the “master copy” for all Hispanic mothers (113). In his brief study, David William Foster identifies one of these maternal copies as the “perfect mother,” who persists under the “oppressive weight of hegemonic definitions of motherhood ” (51). For Diana Taylor, Raznovich’s humor defies censorship, gender violence, and political limitations by employing stereotypes that reflect consumer and patriarchal constructs in Latin America. Taylor maintains that Raznovich presents her criticism by opposing the ideas of “real” and “substitute.” In her chapter Taylor explains how “the ‘real’ is produced through the capitalist market system that trades in desires and emotions. Rather than allowing us to buy into the seemingly natural mother/daughter experience, to idealize it or psychologize it, Raznovich leaves all the performative strings showing” (85). As all these scholars confirm, Raznovich uses consumerism as a structural device to frame her critique of patriarchy and the notion of female gender identity as a 1 No one had the daughter she wanted, nor the mother she would have wanted to have (my translation). YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY 323 construct: what current research leaves unaddressed is a detailed study of the mother economy in Casa Matriz. The following paper seeks to understand the mechanics of consumer behavior that underscores Raznovich’s criticism, and argues that the role of mother portrays a reified commodity whose purchase and consumption parallels the performative acts of gender identity construction. In Casa Matriz Raznovich links two seemingly contrary theories: consumerism and gender identity. Society’s power to objectify the subject links these two ideas. Jean Baudrillard interprets the social function of consumer and object production. The purchaser, according to Baudrillard , maintains a reciprocal relationship with the object of consumption : in modern, capitalist societies consumers, markets, and objects shape and design each other (64). The same holds true for gender identity . Judith Butler explains gender as a set of performative acts regulated by hegemonic powers. Performative in this case means, “constituting the identity it is purported to be” (33). In both instances the fundamentals of society at the Casa Matriz – be it the consumer or woman – reify the subject who participates in the very mechanism of objectification. To examine the functionality of the social mechanisms of consumer behavior and gender identity formation I begin by describing the structure of consumer society in Raznovich’s drama. The study then reads the role of the Substitute Mother in terms of Baudrillard’s explanation of “model” and “series.” By understanding how the Substitute Mother is transformed into a consumer object we can better appreciate how the maternal commodity informs the daughter’s consumer behavior. Finally, this discussion will demonstrate the parallels between the daughter’s consumer behavior and gender as a performative act, illuminating Raznovich ’s parody of gender formation. Raznovich constructs a consumer society inside her piece by situating her characters within an agency, much like a brothel, in which the daughter, Bárbara, purchases a substitute mother who portrays different maternal roles. Rhyming “sustituta” with “prostituta” underscores the parallel between the casa and the brothel and aligns the notions of “mother acts” with “sex acts.”2 This parody reverses audience expecta324 ROMANCE NOTES 2 See also the stage directions for Bárbara: “(…a punto de decir ‘prostituta’)” (267), along with the Substitute Mother’s complaint: “¡Este trabajo de Madre Sustituta tiene aspectos francamente denigrantes” (280). tions by changing a personal and intimate relationship into a reified commodity. Baudrillard describes the exchange of merchandise in terms of production, one that seduces clients into purchasing not one product, rather the entire system that subsequently generates...


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pp. 323-330
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