Congratulations Paulla Santos (History, ’16)!
Paulla Santos’s undergraduate thesis, “Sexualtiy, Gender, and US Imperialism after Philippine Independence: An Examination of Gender and Sexual Stereotypes of Pilipina Entertainment Workers and US Servicemen,” published in The Oregon Undergraduate Research Journal
Paulla’s paper examines the continuation of United States imperialism in the Philippines after Philippine Independence in 1946 through the gendered and sexual stereotypes of US men and Philippine women. These perceptions of the women as submissive and dependent were constructed through women’s interactions with US military men, who were present due to growing US concern over eastern communist influence in the second half of the 20th century. Evidence from rest-and-recreation areas near US military bases suggests that US servicemen were seen as powerful and wealthy, while the Philippines appeared submissive and dependent on US power, as represented by Philippine women’s behavior towards the servicemen. The Philippine presidencies of Ferdinand Marcos and Corazon Aquino also transformed identities particularly of Philippine women. These ranged from the support and promotion of Pilipina entertainment workers to condemning and imprisoning them. However, Santos illuminates instances of Pilipina agency that show how many Pilipinas were not simply victims to US power within these entertainment districts, but also sought employment opportunities in order to benefit from the circumstances created by US presence and provide for themselves, their families, and their country. Santos then connects the events around US military bases at that time to present-day stereotypes associated with Asian-born women married to US men in the United States, as well as the current discussions of reopening the US military bases in the Philippines.