What it is to be a Spanish Girl

There are many facets of Hispanic culture that I absolutely love. The food is delicious, families are big and close and the music is soulful. There are many positives to such a traditional culture. However, being the oldest of three siblings and a girl, I feel as if I bear the burden of the negative side of that same tradition. As the oldest, I am to be the example, and this is for all parts of life: the best grades in school, the caretaker in the house, and a hard worker in whatever job I have. Personally, I have always loved school and learning, and I am an overachiever so getting good grades was never an issue. However, because I’m not only the oldest but also a girl, my supposed responsibilities in the house have always been an issue of contention. In a traditional Hispanic household, the woman cooks, cleans and for the most part looks after the children. As the oldest daughter, I am the only one who is able to pick up the work my mom is unable to do. If she works late or is tired from working, I am the one who is then supposed to be responsible for cooking food for the whole family, washing up and cleaning the kitchen afterward, helping younger siblings with homework, etc.

The upbringing of daughters compared to sons are completely different experiences. Daughters are taught to wash, clean, cook and oversee a household in general, while boys are cooked for, cleaned up after and spoiled. A minor example of this is that when the food is done, the boys get their plates and drinks prepared for first and brought to the table whether they are there already or not. This has unfortunate effects on both boys and girls. Boys grow up entitled and childish because they were never made to be responsible for themselves and (to some extent) don’t recognize the value of women. They see them as honorary maids and and childbearers; not necessarily in a disrespectful way but in a “that’s just the way I was raised to think” kind of way. Girls grow up feeling as if they are emotionally dependent on men, especially if the man is the primary bread-winner, which is why you see many Spanish women stay with unfaithful husbands. Like with most communities and cultures, I have seen progressive improvements and have been able to develop a strong and independent mindset for myself. A great quote that I once heard goes like this, “Mothers who baby their sons raise men ill-equipped for life.” My hope is that boys and girls are both raised to be self sufficient and confident in their own self-worth. They can begin to truly recognize and respect each other for reasons other than being dependants.