Confessions of a Mexicana: Gender Roles

I remember the parties when I would sit down and notice it.

 

The familiar sound of tubas and guitars would fill the air as Spanish chattered its way through my ears. Shoes would tap merrily on the cement and skin would glisten in the light as bodies moved quickly to the sound of mariachi. But I would forget about the smiles and the dancing because my eyes would be caught by my mother in the kitchen. She would be flipping tortillas as my sister made the guacamole and my aunts filled plates. I always frowned because it reminds me of the differences I can’t help but see.

 

Seeing my tios sitting outside laughing with their clinking beer bottles and bellies waiting for food to appear. Or watching my sister’s fiance give her a look before sitting down and then hearing her chair scrape as she stands up to bring him his plate. Or the times all the men would be lounging in the living room as my mother and aunts worked hours in the kitchen.

 

I’ve gotta say that there’s nothing wrong with loving to cook or being a housewife. If you love it, great! The art of cooking is beautiful, but there was a point in my childhood when I started realizing that all the times my mother cleaned and cooked and worked as my step-father just worked, it wasn’t always love I was seeing. It wasn’t really the desire to do all these favors for her husband that pushed her to do so much more. It’s the toxic sexism entangled in our Hispanic roots that molded her into that routine.

 

And I know that might sound like I’m belittling women who do all those things because they genuinely want to, but that’s not it. If you love being a housewife, you go girl!

 

But in many instances in the Latinx culture, women are taught that cooking and cleaning is their most important job. It becomes so ingrained  in their heads and their hands that it just becomes normal. Suddenly they don’t even remember if they actually do these things because they like them or because they’re the rules.

 

The culture doesn’t only limit itself to the kitchen, it also reaches the little boys that hold their tears back as they’re told that crying isn’t an option. Machismo, an aggressive sort of masculine pride, carves a home inside their heads and soon they’re the man who drinks too much and forgets that taking care of the kids is also his responsibility.  He comes home drunk at 4 a.m. and pounds against the door that keeps a frustrated mother trying to block a sleeping child’s ears from the reality of a father that’s falling through the cracks.

 

He surrounds himself with brothers and a father that taught him that’s who he’s supposed to be, to fill his cup with alcohol until he can’t breathe.

 

The women are surrounded by parents that give them baskets of clothes to clean at the age of twelve as they watch their brothers laugh and play through the window.

 

And soon, the lines blur and the rules don’t taste so bad anymore. It becomes a sort of bitter sweet that’s too comfortable to leave.

 

I don’t want that. I was fortunate enough to have a mother that taught her daughters and her son to always do what makes them happy. She didn’t want us to get trapped in some of the toxic traditions the Latinx culture unfortunately has. She wants to make better traditions that will remind future generations to follow what you love. You don’t have to get married and have the white picket fence if you don’t want it. You don’t have to be the twelve year old that looks through the window and watches enviously as the boys play. You can be the girl who joins the soccer game or the girl that cooks every masterpiece she could possibly think of before  gobbling them all up!

 

 

Of course, I love so many parts of my culture. The music, the art, and most importantly, the food--trust me, it’s freaking great.

 

 

But anyways, it’s okay to change the things that we feel aren’t right because in this world, we can always change for the better, and that includes traditions. Remember that they were first created when the world was different, so sometimes we just gotta remember to update them.