Machismo culture honors men, demeans women

By Alondra Gallardo, Advocate Staff

As a Latina, I will not forget the day I sat in the doctor’s office with my adult guardian and the doctor telling me I am due for my Human Papilloma Virus Vaccine (HPV) Vaccine — a shot recommended for young adults that helps prevent HPV.

My guardian quickly responded by saying, no, she is not to be sexually active.

Instead, she asked if it was offered for boys and implied my 13-year-old brother may need it in the future.

Her response left me furious because it isn’t fair that my brother and I are being raised and treated differently just because of one simple difference — our gender.

Often, in Latino culture, a person’s trajectory in life is decided by society’s idea of what is possible or unimaginable based on gender.

Gender roles in Latino culture suffocate and degrade both men and women allowing them to be negatively stereotyped.

Latinas are expected to remain uneducated, dependent versions of indentured servants while Latino men are expected to fill the role of “el machiste,” the Latino version of a male chauvinist.

For the most part, in Latino culture, men are the providers for the family and embody the “el machiste” motif.

They are the ones who go out to work and provide the financial needs for the family while women are expected to stay home, raise children and do all of the domestic chores such as cleaning and cooking.

Ideas have been instilled in Latina women that they should dress with modesty because if they dress any other way they are seeking unflattering attention.

If not dressed with modesty, they are portrayed as selling themselves like prostitutes, or “asking for it.”

Rather than teaching men to keep their male parts to themselves, women are taught to be ashamed of who they are and to hide themselves under their clothes.

The only difference between women and men’s chests is the level of estrogen that women have, causing the tissue to enlarge, leading to breast development.

Latina women are portrayed as hyper-sexual. If not, they are considered prudes.

They are to follow the role of “marianismo” — the female version of machismo. They must be pure and have moral strength. According to the free dictionary, “marianismo” is defined as a strong exaggerated sense of traditional femininity, especially in some Latin American cultures, placing great value on forbearance, self-sacrifice, nurturing and the limiting of sex to marriage.

Even in modern society, if a Latin woman is not “pure” then she is jettisoned into the category of whore.

Many Latino families raise their daughters bound by the constraints of religious beliefs.

The restrictions usually lead to stringent rules about being modest and pure and many believe if rules are not explicitly followed — they will go to hell.

While daughters are under strict surveillance, the men get to sleep with anyone and not be bashed for it. Instead, they’re congratulated for it.

Men expect to marry a woman who is pure yet, ironically, they are the ones doing the exact opposite and not being admonished for it.

If it was not for the stereotypical culture norms that people have developed over the years these molds and expectations each gender is supposed to fulfill would not exist.

If humans created it, then it can be changed.