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“La Muchacha desobediente” (“The Disobedient Young Woman”)- Mexican Legend

*Originally spoken in Spanish. The following is a rough translation. 

Description (From Transcript): “There was a young woman who’s mom wouldn’t let her go to a dance. There were dances and she went without permission. At the dance, there was a very elegant young man, very well dressed, tall, and a stranger. He wasn’t from that region. So he asked the young woman to dance with him and she was super happy, danced with him, and after a while he disappeared. She saw his legs and saw that one of them was a horse leg and the other was a rooster’s. When she saw this, she tried to run away, she wanted him to let go of her. She managed to get away and that’s when he disappeared. But she had his handprints printed on her back, like animal claws. Her back was burned where he touched her. I don’t know if the young woman died, if they found her dead, or something. But they found her with the handprints. Or maybe she lived to tell the story, herself. Other people saw that he disappeared. That’s how they know the story. This happened in some ranch probably close to where I’m from because they told this story as far back as my grandma’s time. This story also happened here (Denver) and it was on the news. There were rumors because they found this young woman dead, and they would say that something similar had happened to her because they found the handprints on her back”. 

Context: TR is a Mexican woman, born and raised in Zacatecas, Mexico. She immigrated to the United States in 1995. She explains how they would scare “one” with this story. When asked to clarify who she was referring to by “one”, she explained that she meant teenage girls. In an attempt to not let their daughters go to parties or dances, parents would tell them this story of the devil. Her mom would tell her this story since she was little and began wanting to go to dances because she was disobedient. 

She explains that parents would let them go to dances, but not all of them. But the young women wanted to go to all of the stories. She states that the story was told to young men and women but men were less scared by it. Parents wanted their daughters to be more careful. This was the belief, the lifestyle in small communities; that the man had to protect the woman. It was a stereotype from where we lived. Men were given more freedom. 

My Interpretation: Much like La Llorona, this legend is used as a warning to women in order to ensure that they wouldn’t go out too much. I found it surprising that this legend traversed to an American city considering that the informant originally learned in a very rural, small town context. It’s also indicative of different gender treatments of children and victim blaming culture because even though the woman in the story was harmed (and in some cases murdered) she is used as an example of how being a disobedient woman has consequences that can be avoided.