The autobiography of Catalina de Erauso is very attractive for scholars, who investigate such aspects as identity, authorship, sexuality and gender; the most important aspect can be considered masculinity of this character. She had desire to become a man for receiving the status in society, which was dominant by males, and the possibility to show her identity. The transformation of Erauso’s conduct into masculine manners, sometimes in violent form, was necessary for persuasion and becoming powerful, successful and accepted at the times of colonial Spain. Her destination, attitude and deeds have made this person exciting and extraordinary in colonial Spanish Empire with a number of possibilities and features of independence, even though there were a lot of changes in the history of nun-soldiers, which were not so ordinary for traditional societies at those times. Her masculine conduct was manifested in traveling the length of South America, charming women and frequently starting fights with other men. By these actions she wanted to accede to superior realm of masculinity.
The violence and cruelty have always accompanied her life, which was full of difficulties: her self-determination was not so easy; other young men provoked her, thus making her a cruel male. A fundamental tool of masculine representation and self-defense was considered her violence and Catalina de Erauso demonstrated such condition behaving like a male of that time. Even though in the autobiography of Catalina there were a lot of cruelties, which were usual for men at those times, when she saw the violence against the female, Catalina showed all her bravery in order to save her from husband. If there were another male, he could allow her husband assassinating his wife and doing everything needed for refining his reputation, name and honor. However, Catalina took actions to rescue this woman and ran away with her, possibly in these circumstances she wanted to demonstrate her feminist beliefs by fighting against male chauvinist character. These circumstances make her hero before Spanish society, as Erauso saved life of this woman by endangering her life and the convent has honored this deed. After accepting manly behavior, disguise and appearance she has started to show her fearlessness and courage, moreover, the Colonial Spain in 17 century gave a lot of opportunities for women and Catalina took the advantages and started a new life. She concealed her female identity while she and other soldiers fought against rebelling Indians. Erauso had no beard like other men that could give her away, but the fighting against Indians gave her a unique protection.
If we consider both religious and political conventions, she wanted to play an important role in occupying New Spain by traveling as a fighter and warrior to the New World. In this regard, her passive, quiet and religious life was changed for powerful, violent and active life in occupation of unknown continent. Her bravery and violence have contributed to the expansion of political and Catholic ideals and such conquistadors were praised in the Golden Age. The women in Spain have not enjoyed the autonomy and freedom of mobility, but these restrictions were one of the main Catalina’s motivations to be an itinerant soldier and worldly man. The Military and religious institutions were both powerful at the times of Colonial Spain existence and for becoming recognized and powerful man these both institutions were fully used by her. Being an agent of independence and power, she renounced traditional forms of female sexuality and became an honorary lieutenant and soldier taking part in colonies’ conquest. After accepting masculine manners and disguise, she never thought to get back to her previous female condition as her current appearance and power helped her to survive in this man-dominated world, to gain liberation and respect. Under a male body Erauso existed and became a social actor that helped to be famous, people admired her for being a brave man and a combatant. (Soraya García Sánchez, 2007)
Soraya García Sánchez. (2007). The Lieutenant Nun: Violence, Gender and Power. University of Queensland Press, the whole article.
Aly Caviness. (2014). The Masculine Mobility of Catalina de Erauso, 1585?-1626. Ball State University Press, the whole article.