When I was a little girl I watched Mami cook breakfast, lunch and dinner – and serve my father his meals. She’d run into the kitchen for his fork, which she’d often forget, and ate alone after all were fed. Still, she didn’t complain; it’s what she was taught to do as a Latina.
The traditional woman’s role still exists today, as it is passed down by grandmothers to mothers to daughters. What gender roles plague Latinas in relationships and how do we break free? It’s not easy but you can loosen their grip by following this advice.
The Submissive Mujer
Latinas are often taught to follow the leader; in most cases, the leaders are men. Whether it’s a boyfriend or husband, we’re taught to bow down to our male counterpart. They control finances, our social calendar and sometimes how we dress. But it doesn’t have to be this way!
Take preventive measures by communicating with your partner early on about gender roles. If you want to work, say so. If you want a separate bank account, say so. Have these discussions before getting deeper into your relationship. If his view of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ opposes yours, find a compromise. If he’s too extreme, you may have to end your relationship – or you’ll follow the leader much like your ancestors.
Mami raised me and my siblings, and I loved that she was home. I’d walk into our apartment after school, hypnotized by the smell of oregano, limon, and garlic; and it was comforting. Mami was there to prepare warm delicious meals or sing “sana sana culito de rana” to a bruised knee. But, do I want to be a stay-at-home like Mami? If I don’t, does that make me less of a woman? Of a Latina? I don’t think so.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. Staying at home, working from home, or working full-time outside the home depends on who you are and your career. What you shouldn’t do is make a decision based on what you think you should do or what’s expected because you’re a woman.
The Good Feisty Girl
Latinas aren’t just ‘good girls’ anymore; we talk about raunchy sex, desire sex, and enjoy sex. I, for one, do all this openly! But we’re not just sexpots either: we are intelligent and offer more than the stereotypical Latina feisty personality. Unfortunately, there’s still a shame that clings to us after a one-night-stand or a night of masturbation. We aren’t supposed to want sex like men. The Catholic-guilt also kicks in and we visualize the disappointment in Jesus Cristo’s eyes.
So, how do we enjoy sex without shame or be sexy without perpetuating a stereotype? Ride the middle. Instead of shunning the ‘good girl’ and ‘sexpot’ that lies within, find a balance between the two. Or as I say, be an easy prude.
That goes for all gender roles. You have the choice to accept the roles you’re comfortable with and reject those that do not serve you or your purpose. Be the woman you want to be, not the woman you are told to be.