Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Latinas as Yes Woman after the Wedding Day??

So I wonder if women function only for agreement after they get married? Does Latino culture enforce this machismo?

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not doing an Octavio Paz on Latinos and they're so called "inherent machismo." No! I love my origin. I love the mangos, plantains, smiling Caribbeans, and magical realism. I love the history and culture. Amo mi America, America Latina.

However, after seeing today's episode on Oprah (the ex-wife of Lance Armstrong explained her loss of independence and her own identity after sporting the big rock) I wonder if Latino culture reinforces the traditional and unfeministic notions of the ideal wife and mother (barefoot and pregnant, in the kitchen).

Many minority cultures subjugate its females. They fill them with shame when their mind, body, or soul steps outside of the threshold. Fortunately, with the expansion of education, this traditional way of thinking has declined. But it hasn't diminished. It was just recently that my aunt (who I love to death) told my cousin to serve dinner to her husband. Are we our husband's mothers too?

Maybe we should step out from the norms a bit. Observe, and see what we want and need (besides food, water and shelter). Rather than fantasizing that
el principe azul will climb up and save us from evil witches and dragons, we Latinas must cut off our long (blond, brown, red, whatever color it may be) mane and climb down the tower ourselves.


travelwahine said...

Excellent post. Speaking from personal experience, it does seem to be the latino way. When we visit my family, my mother and sister make it a point to tell me to serve my husband. WTF??? Then my Mom will tell me that her mother taught her to serve her husband. I tell my Mom but you now complain about having to serve my Dad all the time, yet you want to instill in me this "woman serve your man" crap. It's very annoying. I like to think of myself as a feminist, and will serve him because I love him BUT not because it's my obligation. Unfortunately, my sister and mother seem to think that it's my job.

As far as the principe azul mentality, I'm totally with you. We as strong, Latina women can save ourselves.

Jinx said...

I think women lose themselves in marriage way too often. I suppose it's easy to get caught up in being so and so's wife and the mother of... More likely maybe, is that a lot of women don't really establish an identity before they start hooking up with people. They never know themselves- what they like, what makes them tick, so nobody else can know you, either! I'm agreeing with Oprah, in that, I'm afraid of marriage for the very same reason. Maybe it's selfish, or uncompromising. I like to think it's self preservation. I'm sure some of us know what the key is, and are fully their own mujer while being a part of marriage. To them I say Que Viva! That's the way it should be. Chica, I've tried and tried to subscribe and support Latina magazine several times. Every time they let me down. I'm with you, I just feel like I can't relate. No color. It may be a shame, but I now subscribe to Essence because I don't feel like I'm an intruder there!

Soli said...

I love my culture too but I don't deny what is there and, yeah, machismo is still alive. There's still a double standard when it comes to a woman's sexuality, so that the boys are left to run free while parents often guard their daughters closely to make sure they remain seƱoritas until they're married. On the other hand, I'm not sure this double standard is exclusive to the Latino culture. Everyone has a long way to go when it comes to breaking out of the gender roles that have been assigned for what seems like forever. White women may also at times find themselves being mothers to their husbands.

On the bright side, things have definitely improved and one can only hope they'll get better. At least we have the freedom, as individuals, to refuse to be in any role we do not want. As individuals we can choose to be joined to someone who shares our ideals, and strive for an equality in the way we live life together.

Lu Soto said...

You know I see this in the mexican culture all the time, but if you ever even mention it you are stereotyping or judging your own culture. I have had it happen to me.

I mean, we are ecouraged to stay in same culture marriage, and men are encouraged to keep their women under watch and all the machista culture.


Mrs. S said...

This is a great post Cyn ... seems like we Latinas are taught this at a very young age. In my familia, my mom did this and still does, but their is a difference now - my Dad now helps her cook but years ago he would not be caught dead in the kitchen - he learned that a woman has a place next to her man and not behind him ... so with that lesson I learned what I am willing to accept and what I don't want ... hopefully ur post will help to wake up other Latina's ...

Susana said...

> Both your last two posts are excellent!!!! I can tell that you
have a lot of maturity and self-awareness for your age. You are
right on with both posts... very accurate AND articulate observations!
> It is true that as far as women have come, our Latin culture
often still carries the expectation that the woman will serve the
man, be submissive and that it's not ok to be assertive and
outspoken. I totally agree with you that Latinas have to take charge
of their own lives and re-define who we are and what WE want. It's
important to recognize that what makes us strong women has little to
do with MEN and it has EVERYTHING to do with our inner spirit.
> On the flip side though, I take pleasure in being a wife who
nurtures her man. I am not bothered by serving him his dinner. They
key is, as someone pointed out in one of your comments, is that I
don't want it to be an obligation, but rather something I CHOOSE to

Shelley Halima said...

I watched the Oprah episode and was in total agreement with what was said. It wasn't marriage bashing but bashing the fairy tale notion that many women still have about it. You have to content and at peace with yourself - don't expect a wedding ring to do that.

I personally don't mind serving my man dinner but as the previous poster said - it's a choice not an obligation. I have refused to let my family and friends make me feel like I'm somehow less of a woman because I haven't married yet. I will get married when the time and man is right and not a minute sooner.

Great post, Cynthia!