The Lieutenant Nun: Violence, Gender and Power
Soraya García Sánchez
Violence is an aggression that affects places, animals and people. In Spanish colonial time, violence was abusive in the destruction of the land and in the crimes against aboriginal people. When dealing with the Lieutenant Nun, violence is a representation and a reaction to the patriarchal system. As a man, she has to fight back, in order to defend her position in society. She imitates the masculine role and becomes cruel with the American natives during the conquest, and also with Spaniards who challenge her position. This violent behaviour confers her power. Power implies control, authority, change. In the case of The Lieutenant Nun, power and gender are performative abilities that convince the others of a transformation. As a result, Erauso controls her image and her outcomes. Power and her dual gender correspond to each other.
Catalina de Erausos life and achievements in a world dominated by the
male voice and action, not only in Spain but also in the conquest of the New World in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, have brought about a line of investigation in my
studies. In this essay, I stage a relationship among the three concepts that are headed in
this title, violence, gender and power, and how they become an inspiration for the
glorious evolution of the Lieutenant Nun. Violence, in this sense, will be considered to
be a tool of power in her life as a man. It will esteem her position in society as she
achieves recognition, independence and authority. How could a novice perform a vicious,
furious, religious, social and cunning role as a man in the seventeenth century? The
principal text considered for this study is Catalina de Erausos autobiography: Historia de la Monja Alférez, written in her way
back to Spain once she declared she was not only a woman but also virgin. Although her
memoirs were written in 1625 with the intention to be in print by Bernardino de Guzmán in
Erauso entered the convent of
Catalina de Erausos autobiography has attracted many scholars who have considered aspects of authorship, gender, sexuality and identity as it is the case of Mary Elizabeth Perry and Camacho Platero, to name a few. Victor Rocha has also studied the connection between the body and the self in the sense of becoming transvestite, and how her identity has evolved. Sherry Velasco has published a comprehensive study with her book The Lieutenant Nun: Transgenderism, Lesbian Desire & Catalina de Erauso. Yet, I have not seen a line of investigation that has related her male body to the seventeenth century masculine violence and consequently, to the achievement of power.
Desire of becoming a man in order to acquire status in a male dominant society is one of the perceptions that I will develop when referring to the Lieutenant Nun. Moreover, desire is connected to her possibility of identity whether it is personal and/or sexual. At a time of colonial Spanish Empire, Erauso, as a cross-dresser, has transformed her conduct into masculine manners, some of them violent, in order to persuade and become successful, accepted and powerful. Even though the nun-soldiers history implies too many changes for a traditional society of the seventeenth century to understand her attitude and her strangeness, her deeds and destinations in Spain and in the colonies made of this heroine a complex and exciting being with a diversity of features and numerous possibilities of independence. The indoors life of the convent is replaced for the outdoors adventurous days.
To start my analysis, I have organised the perceptions of violence, power and
gender in different headings. I wish to concentrate on Erausos epic descriptions in
order to explore the strategies that she takes to perform her voice and body. Historia de la Monja Alférez presents a woman-man
with courage and bravery to succeed no matter what she has to do for it, even if she has
to express herself by being the man of the time. In the first episode, Erauso describes
her escape from the convent and how, on her own, for the first time, she can see the
world: me salí a la calle, que nunca había visto.
Presented as an innocent young woman, she decided to challenge the world with her
adventures. The brave nun is talking under a feminine I that describes her
first impressions of the Spanish world and the surroundings of the convent where she has
lived for eleven years. Kathleen Ann Myers manifests that the first person memoirs
allowed a woman [Erauso] to step outside of convention, to create a new identity
that reflected the reality of a woman who wanted to see the world (184). In only two
pages, Catalina de Erauso displays her family origins and how she spent three years going
from one place to the other in
Violence in Catalina de Erauso
Violence is the origin of Erausos escape from the convent, a hostile quarrel with another more mature widow-nun. Consequently, Erauso starts to develop her new life of difficulties with the outer world but with fewer restrictions. This self-determination is not that simple and she is early provoked by other young males to turn out to be cruel. The Lieutenant Nun demonstrates that she can behave, sooner or later, as a man of the time and violence will be a fundamental tool of masculine self-defence and representation. In this example, she describes herself as a victim because these boys were inciting her. She acted in response by taking some peddles that injured one of the young men. At this moment of transformation, between a victim and an instigator and protester of the world around her, she goes to prison for the first time and stays there for a month until the wounded youngster feels better. Her first brawl as a male leaves her in another different prison to that of the convent. As the majority of the examples in her memoirs, this initial quarrel with other men can be described as epic if it is considered that she was attacked not by one young man but a group of boys. Erauso became, on her own, triumphant over it. Being in prison for a month is not regarded as a failure but a victorious beginning for Erauso who, in spite of being a woman, crosses swords, injures and starts developing her position as a man: Entretanto dieron allí unos muchachos en reparar en mí y cercarme, hasta que viéndome fastidiado, hube de hallar unas piedras y hube de lastimar a uno, no sé por dónde porque no lo vi. Prendiéronme y me tuvieron en la cárcel por un largo mes.
In chapter three, Catalina de Erauso improves her temperament and has the first real confrontation with another man, Reyes. This disagreement is represented as irritating to her as she did not start it. The society makes her, as a man in disguise, to act violently. The physical and verbal violence are not only ways of expression among the protagonists, but also symbols of superiority and power. Erauso was obliged to leave as she did not have any weapon: díjome que me fuera de allí o me cortaría la cara. Yo me hallé sin armas, solo una daga, y me salí de allí con sentimiento. However, Erausos honour will seek revenge. She plans a coincidental and victorious situation where she not only injures Mr Reyes but also his friend:
A la mañana siguiente, lunes, estando yo en mi tienda vendiendo, pasó por la puerta el Reyes y volvió a pasar me fui a él diciendo por detrás: «¡Ah, señor Reyes!» Volviose él, y dijo: «¿Qué quiere?» Dije yo: «Esta es la cara que se corta», y dile con un cuchillo un refilón que le valió diez puntos. El acudió con las manos a la herida; su amigo sacó la espada y vino a mí y yo a él con la mía. Tiramos los dos, y yo le entré una punta por el lado izquierdo, que le pasó y cayó.
When Catalina narrates the events that took place in Potosí and the Chuncos, she puts across more violent accounts but this time, she adds racist and scornful language in relation to the native inhabitants. I cannot be certain if the use of this discriminator vocabulary would have been the same on her role as a female. As there is no any other record on her writing than this autobiography, it is not straightforward to see if she speaks under a masculine dress and voice or whether she would have done the same as a woman of that historical period. Erauso does not show any compassion for the child that bravely uses his arrows to injury the oppressors, and to be more specific to Bartolomé de Alba, who was wounded in his eye and as a result, died three days later. It is not hard to imagine the brutal consequences for the boy. Our protagonist is very eloquent in her report and one can envision the torture of the conquest. The young native is seen as a devil and is finally killed. Antonio de Erauso is performing as a man and does not show any kind of consideration for these offensive situations: un demonio de un muchacho como de doce años, que estaba enfrente a la salida encaramado en un árbol, le disparó una flecha y se la entró en un ojo y lo derribó, lastimado de tal suerte que expiró al tercer día. Hicimos al muchacho diez añicos.
Even though Erauso presents her autobiography with a full account of cruel images that characterized the man of the time, when it refers to violence against women, Erauso appears to convey concern until the point of saving a woman who could have been assassinated by her husband for having committed adultery: me dice doña María Dávalos desde la ventana: «¡Señor capitán, lléveme usted consigo, que quiere matarme mi marido!» y me dijeron: «Llévala usted, que la hallo su marido con don Antonio Calderón, sobrino del obispo, y lo ha muerto, y a ella la quiere matar y la tiene encerrada». In these circumstances, Erauso could have chosen to support the male chauvinist character by allowing him to kill his wife and do whatever it was necessary to refine his name, honour and reputation. Yet, Erauso takes action by rescuing this woman and runs away with her, maybe because there is an erotic interest or maybe because she acts as a feminist with the pursuit of helping other unprotected women as Mrs Dávalos. In such masculine circumstances, she becomes a hero because after having been followed by the impulsive husband, Erauso will have to defeat him in order to come to Mrs Dávaloss rescue of murder: Entramos en la iglesia con la brega, y allí me entró dos puntas por los pechos Chavarría se estuvo también curando de sus heridas por muchos días. The Lieutenant Nuns contribution to protect this exposed woman of masculine violence is demonstrated with Mrs María Dávaloss example as she will finally enter a convent with her mother to continue living in safety. After her marriage, the convent is the only place for Dávaloss assurance. Despite her husband claimed the right to have his wife returned, the society is on Dávaloss side. Erauso endangers her life in order to save Mrs Dávalos. Her action is fundamental in the societys position. She reveals how her deed saved a womans life and consequently she will be honoured by the convent. Not only Dávalos and her mother will express gratitude but also other ladies in the convent who felt appreciation for her care to womens injustices: no había más que haber socorrido repentinamente a aquella mujer que se me arrojó, huyendo de la muerte, pasándola a convento con su madre, como ella pidió Salí de la reclusión, ajusté mis cuentas, visité muchas veces a mi monja y a su madre y a otras señoras de allí, agradecidas, me regalaron mucho.
Another instance of violent behaviour presented in her highly-coloured portrays Erauso not only surrounded by the political and brutal world of the time but also by religion. Her descriptive vocabulary evokes a violent vision for the reader:
«Perro, ¿todavía vives» Tirome una estocada y apartela con la daga y tirele otra, de tal suerte, que se la entré por la boca del estómago, atravesándolo, y cayó pidiendo confesión. Yo caí también; al ruido acudió gente y algunos frailes y el corregidor, don Pedro de Córdoba, del hábito de Santiago, el cual, viendo a los ministros asirme, les dijo: «Aquí qué hay que hacer sino confesarlo?» El otro luego. Lleváronme caritativos a casa del tesorero, donde yo paraba; acostáronme; no se atrevió un cirujano a curarme hasta que confesara, por recelo de que expirase.
As a Catholic woman-man, she did not stop believing in God and having the
Christian religion as an important tenet in her daily life, as she expresses later, once
her health is recovered:
aquel santo padre Ferrer no se apartó de mí. Dios
se lo pague.
These heroic stories present a woman of courage who after having fought, been in prison
and being paid for her heroism and braveness, gets the value and recognition of the
historical Spanish Golden Age. Once Erauso confesses her gender and returns to the
Erausos descriptions honour the victories of her deeds as it is demonstrated in the following instance. The fight is provoked by a previous violent situation that causes the revenge of Erauso on the minister. The soldier woman can feel her enemies around but she does not stop before them. Yet she continues demonstrating her courage: llegué al Puente de Apurimac, donde topé a la justicia con amigos del muerto Cid, que me estaban esperando y de un pistoletazo derribé al ministro.
Drawing on the work of the Lieutenant Nun and the numerous examples of
violent and heroic events that she narrates, I must consider the historical period in
which these actions came to pass. In Harry Vélez Quiñoness words, The
Spanish military in the Golden Age became the most visible fighting force in
Power in Catalina de Erauso
use of violence in her role as a soldier, lieutenant and conquistador transformed her
condition into powerful. At first, Erauso briefly conveys her life as a woman in the
convent, and only her admiring accounts as a male are expressed in her memoirs and as such
are celebrated. This 'masculine violence' and social life will be threatened by
Erausos sexuality and gender. However, it is at the difficult time of her death
penalty, when the Lieutenant Nun is determined to acknowledge that she is in fact a woman.
In so doing, she uses cunning techniques considering the religious authority of the time.
She confesses as a decisive factor how she has remained chaste and she offers herself for
examination to prove her virginity. This perspicacious and objective achievement will
allow her to continue living as a man, option that she will finally take, considering all
the chances and possibilities of her masculine identity. The Catholic religion during this
historical period in the
On the other hand, it is difficult not to think how Erauso did not break her state of purity. It is clear that when she became to be considered a man, she accepted it as true as she did not have many chances of living in the same conditions if she were regarded as a woman. Her freedom would have been reduced again to the convent life if the feminine option was considered. Thats why she not only resisted her female sexual identity, in which case, she would have lost her power, but also her male sexual identity as she could have also been discovered of her real sex in situations where she was required to be naked. I understand that according to the protagonists descriptions, she was never obliged to be completely naked as that would have been a fact of bringing to light her sexuality. Her male and female gender have been constrained: un buen hombre compadecido de nuestra desnudez, nos vistió, nos encaminó y avió a Lima, y vinimos. Even though she was proposed to get married in more than one occasion, she was not the prime mover in the offer but the receiver, thus she was very subtle in her strategies. The interesting point of view will be to see if we can ever find any records that can identify Erausos heterosexual or homosexual life after she was approved to continue her life as a male. Now that the Pope, the King and the society acknowledge and honour her as a transsexual being, it will be an analysis of future references to see what her sexual options were. Some critics have assured that her decision of continuing being male indicates her rejection to her female gender as she has been considered lesbian. However, my postmodern point of view also see Erauso as a controlling woman who renounces the life of the convent and the life of the housewife but, possibly and probably, not her sexual life either as a heterosexual or as a homosexual. It is clear that her male appearance was not the most important issue but the way, in which she thought, acted and spoke like a man. Behind her figure, her identity is hidden as there is not certainty behind this mask. I coincide with Julie Wheelwright when she suggests that the female warriors acceptance was often based on denial of her sexuality and great emphasis was placed on her virginity or sexlessness in popular representations. This denial is a mechanism of power. Erauso desires to become male as her social condition and options are enriched. The soldier female protagonist accomplishes an acknowledged position in society by not being a woman of the time but the example of masculinity. She did not follow the established patterns. Virginity is the main canon that she did not break as Perry declared.
Gender in Catalina de Erauso
Why Catalina de Erauso, as some other discovered and undiscovered women of the time, decided to become the masculine stereotype is my next point of analysis. To explore this quest, I will consider, Stephen Whiteheads work Men and masculinities: Key Themes and New Directions and especially the chapters focused on masculine ontology and desire to be a man in order to compare Whiteheads analysis to Erausos body. Masculine ontology, according to Whitehead is the pursuit of being and becoming masculine by the masculine subject. Erauso cannot be included in this perception as she is not a masculine subject but a woman in male costumes. On the other hand and following Whiteheads explanation, if she is distinguished as a transgender, the Lieutenant Nun is a man trapped in a womans body. Whitehead, however, refers to the case of being masculine for female beings as a form of femininity. If both sentences are related to Erausos life, I will support Whiteheads definition of masculine ontology. Nevertheless, it is possible to see a significant difference in our soldier-nun protagonist as nobody knew that she was really a woman until she decided to tell. On the other hand, it is not acceptable for the time to think of a form of femininity in Erausos case. The adequate chances for feminine subjects during the seventeenth century were to be nuns or wives, and Erauso rejected both of them by living as a man.
What is the essential persona of Catalina de Erauso and how did she use it to achieve power? Is it possible to use her male/female gender as an accepted duality? Erauso is an example of uncertainty, of ambiguity. The idea of a fundamental nature is difficult in her self as she embodies multiple characteristics that have been traditionally opposed to each other but that have been embraced in her example. Her identity reflects oppositions and she uses cross-dressing to mask herself, instead of occulting herself. She never denied that she wasnt a woman rather she confessed her hidden identity. This ambiguity allows the reader, the interpreter to fantasy and play as it does postmodernism. New possible meanings can survive out of the imposed boundaries. Their predominance will put an end to dichotomies and a beginning to plurality. The uncertainty of the Baroque and the multiplicity of Postmodernism are relevant notions in Erausos identity and successful power. Whitehead adds how women cannot be masculine in any essential sense. Certainly, they can take up those practices, languages and behaviours that are considered masculine, but that is not the same as being a masculine subject. In Erausos example, once she declares that she is in fact a woman and once the political and religious institutions encourage her to continue living with a masculine name, the society accepts and praises her as a man of honour, but her masculine being is also parodied by women of the historical time as it is illustrated in her autobiography: reparé en las risotadas de dos damiselas Me miraban, y mirándolas, me dijo una: «Señora Catalina, ¿adónde se camina?»Respondí: «Señoras p , a darles a ustedes cien pescozones y cien cuchilladas a quien las quiera defender.» Callaron y se fueron de allí. The Lieutenant Nuns reaction is violent but in search of protecting her status and respect as a super masculine man. As Julie Wheelwright declares in her study of Amazons and Military Maids:
Often the only way for women to cope with the contradiction of being both female and a soldier was to actively deny their connection with the feminine world. Disguised as men they engaged in acts of imitation love-making, flirted, teased, abused and insulted other women to secure their own position (10).
Erauso was allowed by the King and by the Pope to continue living under her male manners but it is relevant to bear in mind the societys reaction upon these facts exemplified with these ladies laughing. I would like to imagine that those who knew the Lieutenant Nun appreciated her courage in one sense or the other, as it is recorded in some descriptions about her. To be in the position of such a traditional society must have accomplished Erausos circumstances as the unacceptable example. In Whiteheads study, the seventeenth century heroine can be considered a he as that was her election. Her feminine virgin body was necessarily and cunningly disposed and, as Whitehead suggests, the masculine subject is not innately male/man, it can only become this through being positioned in and positioning itself within those discourses that speak of and suggest maleness/masculinity. Erausos power and control start when the subject and the body interact and become masculine not only for her, but for the worlds eyes that observe her making astute use of her male clothes and manners. [T]he body is sexed and gendered at point of entry into the social and this was Erausos main quest.
What is the seventeenth century nun-soldiers gender and identity? In my opinion, she has not rejected her body. For some scholars such as Velasco or Perry, Erauso is the example of successful homosexuality. I will argue that her sexual orientation is never stated in her account. She wrote or dictated these notes under restricted conditions. If she had a sexual life as a heterosexual or a homosexual woman, would she have survived the Inquisition? The lack of data leaves us open to imagination. One can imagine another hidden life that discovers her sexuall life. With imagination, we can think that maybe she had a partner and children. If she covered her identity once, she could have lived under another cover to protect her sexuality. Of course that society knows her as a man but it could be possible to think that she chose a masculine role into the social world under a female body, only for the positive options that it implies. Erauso desires to become male but I cannot be sure of all her intentions and implications. As Whitehead describes desire to be, to become and to exist as a social actor could have been Erausos main pursuit. She was not an intellectual woman who used her words to be heard as it is the case of her posterior contemporary Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. The nun-soldier, however, uses her body and her appearance to become someone popular, free and finally recognised for her deeds which are reflected and exalted in her memoirs.
In this study, I have attempted to examine the adventurous and epic narratives of the historical female character Catalina de Erauso. In so doing, I have analysed how by means of cross-dressing she became he, a new being with a prestigious role in a society that, on occasions, defined men in terms of brutality and violence. Erausos acceptance and development of her new position as a male offers her a state of control and power for a woman of the time. Once she observes the possibilities of her new recognised self, she does not consider for a minute to return to her previous condition as a woman. Her disguises and masculine manners concede her the power to put out of sight any signs of womanhood, and the power to survive in a world dominated by men. From a restless novice to an active, brave and honoured man who left behind any representation of fear-provoking conditions, Catalina-Antonio de Erauso found the opportunity to live a very different time for a woman of the seventeenth century. Her performance and her intentions make her one of our first feminist models who challenged appearance and masculine disguise in order to gain respect and liberation. Erausos transvestism generates power as she has been praised by her violent performance as a combatant and as a brave man. The perceptions of desire, her ambiguous sexual identity, the power of cross-dressing and violence construct the nun-soldier who is admired and respected by society as she finally gathers together the notions of being, emancipation and power.
 See Rima de Vallbona, Vida I sucesos de la monja alférez: autobiografía atribuida a Doña Catalina de Erauso.
 Catalina de Erauso, Historia de La Monja Alférez, Biblioteca Digital Andina de la Biblioteca Municipal de Perú, p. 3. Also see the English version by Michele Stepto and Gabriel Stepto: I shook off my veil and went out into a street I had never seen (4).
 Erauso, Monja Alférez, p. 4. See also Steptos version: Before long, I managed to attract the attention of some of the towns youths, who encircled me, edging up closer and closer, until finally I had had enough and picked up some stones and let one of them have it where I cannot say because I didnt see. I was arrested and thrown in jail, and there I remained for one long month (6).
 Erauso, Monja Alférez, p. 8. See also Steptos version: Then he told me Id best disappear, or hed be forced to cut my face wide open. Seeing as how I was weapon-less, except for a short dagger, I made my exit, more than a little enraged (12).
 Erauso, Monja Alférez, p. 8. See also Steptos version: The next morning, a Monday, I was in the shop doing business as usual when I saw Reyes walk past the door, first one way and then the other. I closed the shop, grabbed up a knife, and went looking for a barber to grind the blade to a sawtoothed edge, and then, throwing on my sword it was the first I ever wore I went looking for Reyes and found him where he was strolling by the church with a friend. I approached him from behind and said, Ah, señor Reyes! He turned and asked, What do you want? I said, This is the face you were thinking of cutting up, and gave him a slash worth ten stitches. He clutched at the wound with both hands, his friend drew his sword and came at me, and I went at him with my own. We met, I thrust the blade through his left side, and down he went (12).
 Erauso, Monja Alférez, p. 20. Also see Steptos version: a devil of a boy of about twelve years old fired an arrow at him from where he was perched in a tree beside the road, where it led out of the encampment. The arrow lodged in the fieldmasters eye and he went right over, so badly wounded that he died three days later. We carved the boy into ten thousand pieces (33-4).
 Erauso, Monja Alférez, p. 26. Also see Steptos version: doña María Dávalos stuck her head out of the window and cried, Take me with you, Señor Capitán my husband is trying to kill me! Two friars hurried up at this point and said to me, You better take her with you. Her husband caught her with don Antonio Calderón, the bishops nephew, and he killed him now he has doña María locked up, and has a mind to kill her too (44-5).
 Erauso, Monja Alférez, p. 27. See also Steptos version: We clashed swords all the way into the church, and he must have been good, because he poked me twice in the breast before I could get in a single hit Chavarría was also a long time mending (46-7).
 Erauso, Monja Alférez, p. 27. See also Steptos version: I had no choice but to help the woman in question, who has thrown herself at the fleeing bloody murder, and how I had delivered her up to her mother as she had begged me to do I came out of hiding, settled my affairs, and went quite often to visit my little nun and her mother, and some of the other ladies there, all of whom were invariably pleased by my company and made many gifts of this, that, and the other thing (47).
Erauso, Monja Alférez, p. 33. Also see
Steptos version: You dog still alive? and thrust at me with
his blade. I forced the blow off the side with my dagger, and with a bit of luck managed
to find the unprotected soft of his belly with my blade, pushed it clear trough him, and
he fell to the ground, begging for a priest. I went down as well, and the ruckus brought a
flock of people, including two friars and the sheriff don Pedro de Córdoba, a knight of
 Erauso, Monja Alférez, p. 34. See also Steptos version: and the whole time that saint, brother Luis Ferrer, never left my side may God reward him! (57).
 Erauso, Monja Alférez, p. 35. See also Steptos version: as I said, and had gotten as far as the Apurimac Bridge when I ran into the law, along with some friends of The Cid, all waiting there for me I levelled the constable with a shot from my pistol (58).
 Harry Vélez Quiñones, Deficient Masculinity: Mi Puta es el Maestre de Montesa, Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies, 2:1, 2001, p. 27.
 I shall point out here Michel Foucaults analysis of power and its connection with Catalina de Erauso. The philosopher emphasizes the importance of actions which, at the same time, are linked to freedom and cunning plans: In effect, what defines a relationship of power is that it is a mode of action which does not act directly and immediately on others. Instead, it acts upon their actions: an action upon an action, on existing actions or on those which may arise in the present or the future (789). The Lieutenant Nuns strategy was to use heroic and violent actions in a time of conquest and under the mask of her masculine costumes and appearance in order to achieve freedom, power and recognition. As Foucault declares: So strategy is defined by the choice of winning solutions (793).
Mary Elizabeth Perry, The Manly Woman: A Historical Case Study, American Behavioural Scientist, 31:1,
Julie Wheelwright, Amazons and Military Maids: Women
Who Dressed as Men in the Pursuit of Life,
 Julie Wheelwright, Military Maids, p. 8.
 Erauso, Monja Alférez, p. 31. Also see Steptos version: a good man took pity on our naked state, gave us some clothes and gear and pointed us in the direction of Lima, and we finally made it back (53).
 Vélez Quiñones points out how Erausos words jugar y triscar and andándole en las piernas are left to our fancy. As he said We must assume that at the very least she was not contraria a su gusto, que fue siempre de buenas caras (35). Is it possible to assume with just these few words Erausos sexual orientation? I shall state that her condition as a male made her believe it and show it in writing but the facts or records of her lesbianism or heterosexuality are to be found.
Sherry Velasco is a predominant defender of Erausos homosexuality expressed in her
book The Lieutenant Nun: Transgenderism Lesbian
Desire, and Catalina de Erauso.
 Wheelright, Military Maids, p. 12. Wheelwright also argues how women expressed a desire not for the physical acquisition of a male body but for a male social identity (8).
 Virginity helped to explain the strength and bravery of Catalina, and it could preserve her respectability even when she chose to be a man. Catalina may have broken every other rule for women, but she preserved the most important onevirginity (Perry, Manly Woman, p. 95.
Stephen Whitehead, Men and Masculinities: Key Themes
and New Directions,
 Stephen Whitehead, Men and Masculinities, p. 210.
 Stephen Whitehead, Men and Masculinities, p. 210.
 Erauso, Monja Alférez, p. 35. See also Steptos version: I was struck by the tittering laughter of two ladies They looked at me, and I looked at them, and one said, Señora Catalina, where are you going, all by your lonesome? My dear harlots, I replied, I have come to deliver one hundred strokes to your pretty little necks, and a hundred gashes with this table to the fool who would defend your honor. The women fell dead silent, and then they hurried off (80).
 See Pedro de la Valless physical description in Transvested Autobiography: Apocrypa and the Monja Alférez: De rostro no es fea, pero no hermosa, i se la reconoce estar algun tanto maltratada, pero no de mucha edad Solo en las manos se le puede conocer que es muger, porque las tiene abultadas y carnosas, i robustas y fuertes, bien que las mueve algo como muger (459). In the virtual copy of the Andinas library Historia de la Monja Alférez, others have portrayed the transvestite soldier not in bodily forms but in brave actions as it is the case of Luis Céspedes who knew her for more than eighteen years: Certifico y hago fe a Su Majestad que conozco a Catalina de Erauso de más de diez y ocho años a esta parte que entró por soldado en hábito de hombre, sin que nadie entendiese que era una mujer la susodicha es digna de que Su Majestad le haga merced por lo bien que ha servido (55). Also, Juan Recio de León, by petition of Erauso, writes another official document in which he claims how his discovery of her sexuality was exalted not only by him but by the society who exalted her male braveness (60).
 Whitehead, Men and Masculinities, p. 212.
 Whitehead, Men and Masculinities, p. 212.
 Whitehead, Men and Masculinities, p. 215.
 According to Michel Foucaults concept of power, Catalina de Erauso is an example of power as she acquires this status by means of her clothes, her freedom and her actions and also by means of blending opposites in her self: Power exists only when it is put into action It is a total structure of actions brought to bear upon possible actions Power is exercised only over free subjects, and only in so far as they are free. By this we mean individual or collective subjects who are faced with a field of possibilities in which several ways of behaving, several reactions and diverse comportments may be realized Basically power is less a confrontation between two adversaries or the linking of one to the other than a question of government (82).
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