Eva Perón, or Evita, hasn’t really gotten a fair shake, historically speaking. Considering the kind of power and popularity she had in her country and her advocacy of trade unions and her successful campaigning for women’s voting rights, her very public persona, and her power within her husbands’ presidency, she didn’t fit in with America’s Father Knows Best, Wonder Bread, Happy Homemaker view of women and how they should behave. There was also the fact that Argentina still had strong ties with Franco’s Spain. In the immediate aftermath of World War Two, having any sort of friendship with the fascist government was extremely unpopular with most of the rest of the world. Argentina at the time had a large population which was of Spanish descent, so they saw things a little differently. The overthrow of her husband’s government and the incoming government ‘s ban on Perónism also had a lot to do with the way she is seen even now. She was not a saint or without flaws by any means, but I think it’s about time we take another look at her and dispense with the myths and legends and whatnot.
She was an illegitimate child and when her father went back to his wife, her family was thrown into poverty. There was a significant stigma attached to be born illegitimate at the time. When her husband was president, she altered her birth records to make it appear that she had been born to married parents. That’s not good, but her efforts to improve the standing of those who she referred to as “natural children” in Argentina was. As a teen, she left home and moved to Buenos Aires to pursue an acting career. That didn’t really go too far, but she did get a job doing radio shows and eventual she was a co-owner of that company and was making a very good living. Her newly attained socio-economic status allowed her to meet new and more influential people who eventually came to include Juan Perón and the rest, as they say, is history. They married and were extremely devoted to one and other until her death. She toured Europe as Argentina’s first lady and, like all first ladies everywhere, her clothing and hairstyle choices where fodder for columnists who could rarely, if ever, be pleased. Reading her history now as the post Women’s Lib, Millennial, twenty-something that I am, she sounds like the first contemporary first lady – strange blend of Sarah Palin’s fanatical fan base and use of media as a political tool, Nancy Regan’s complete adoration of her husband, and everything bad anyone in the nineties said about Hillary Clinton’s involvement in her husband’s administration, fierce ambition, and solo traveling to other countries. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but a lot has changed since the late 1940’s and being ahead of your time isn’t usually well-received. I find the real story of Evita much more interesting than the movie. It’s hard to believe that she died at 33.