Thursday, September 3, 2015

In Juana la Virgen, Age is No Obstacle

Starting even in the first minute of Episode 1 in Juana la Virgen, it is clear that this protagonist is not a typical high school student or a typical telenovela character.

A young woman of only 17, Juana demonstrates great strength, determination, and sense of self despite her age. She is the kind of person who will fight for what she believes in and is willing to break social barriers, such as playing soccer despite disapproval from her stern grandmother.

In contrast, Juana's mother Ana Maria is what I would consider a "hot mess" in every sense of the phrase. Ana Maria is a single mother living with her own mother, brother, and daughter. Her mother consistently chastises her for not living a life that Juana should emulate. Although her mother's message is harsh, she has good reason to urge Ana Maria to change her ways. Ana Maria has a family of people that care for her, but she still proceeds to sleep with a married man.

Juana and Ana Maria possess a rare, dynamic mother-daughter relationship - the stereotypical roles of the two women are reversed. Ana Maria is led by her broken heart to seek a relationship with a man who she probably knows, in spite of her arguments against it, that will never break his marriage to be with her. Meanwhile, Juana is compassionate and cares deeply for her mother, consoling her and guarding her from the grandmother's resentment. She, too, wants her mother to stop putting effort in empty relationships, but she truly wants her mother to be happy as well.

Modern society dictates that teenagers are immature, sexually-obsessed young adults who have tendencies to cause trouble for their peers and parents. On the contrary, age is not a factor in Juana's maturity. She is a young woman that I would be proud to know, and the importance of overcoming age discrimination is a social issue that should be discussed much more in contemporary culture.

2 comments:

  1. This is really interesting to me because the concept of "youth vs. maturity" is so different among different cultures. The telenovela I'm watching (Relaciones Peligrosas) focuses on the romance between a teacher (Miranda) in her late twenties and a student of 17 (Mauricio).
    When they first meet and begin their relationship over summer break, Miranda believes Mauricio when he lies and says that he is 21. She thinks that this is a little young for her, but she feels like he seems mature for his age and lets the relationship progress to the bedroom.
    Once she discovers his true age, she doesn't break off the relationship immediately. She realizes that a romance between herself and the 17-year old is illegal, but this is the only reason she finds to end it. The relationship doesn't seem immoral to her, as she comes from a country where the age of consent is more of a guideline. In fact, when she calls her mother back in Mexico to explain the situation, her mother basically says "What's the problem? If you love him, that's that." Miranda responds, "You don't understand how things are here." And it's true.
    I still have trouble getting completely behind the relationship between a mature woman and a teenage boy, BUT it definitely raises some interesting questions about WHY it seems so wrong to me. Age as a measurement of years we've been alive is obviously fact, but age as a measure of maturity is a social construct that is entirely up for debate.

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  2. I really love Juana la Virgen. I watched it as a teenager in Brazil and I agree with you that she, despite being young, is extremely mature for her age. She works as a photographer and has strong values about her own sexuality. She wants to keep her virginity not due to religious duties, but because she believes the right time to lose has not came yet and she doesn't want to have the fate her made had being unhappy at love. Even thought the title for telenovela seems at a first glance ridiculous and the story unlikely to happen, I think it has as main upside the strength of Juana who displays a mature personality regarding her future.
    I'm currently watching the American version Jane the virgin and I'm really satisfied with it as well. However, Juana will be always my favorite! :)

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