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Despite the great strides women have made in achieving equality, there are two types of oppression that are unique to the Latina experience. Latinas, in many Latinas countries, are often labeled as an ethnic minority who are overwhelmingly marginalized by men. Women are constantly oppressed for their gender but in the Latina experience her ethnicity of Chicana can further exaggerate this patriarchal dominance over women as well.
Because of the cultural beliefs many Latin American countries undergo, the oppression that the Chicana receives is complex and derives from a multitude of ways. As seen in “A House of My Own”, the reading traces back to societies’ deep-rooted sexism and discrimination. These experiences are covered and discussed throughout the weekly readings in forms of machismo and sexism which are issues that have greatly influenced the role of women and their quality of life.
As explained by Mosher and Sirkin, the concept of toxic masculinity is the desire of an individual to stick to a strict gender identity script.The first form of oppression listed here is machismo which is attributed to the cultural background of the Chicana. “Despite this limitation, it is important to note that socioeconomic inequalities in the US are driven by racial and gender bias and discrimination at structural and individual levels, with race and gender discrimination exerting a strong influence on inequalities.” With Latin American countries failing to address the assertions of male supremacy, women are still being perceived as inferior which has led to widespread mistreatment of women by their male counterparts. As mentioned above, the cultural background of the Chicana produces another internal oppression caused by the Latina experience that influences the gender roles in Latina’s communities. A few acknowledge this internal oppression as machismo which falls under a socio-cultural concept that deals with male and female social interactions throughout Hispanic cultures.
Machismo is the notion of becoming ‘manly’ and self-sufficient, the term that corresponds to a profound sense of male pride and exaggerated masculinity. This belief is synonymous with a man’s obligation to provide for, defend, and shelter his family which has been the root cause of many family disputes that has made oppression so prevalent in the Hispanic community as said by Mosher and Sirkin, “The hypermasculine man was theorized to be prepared to challenge any real or imagined provocation from other men with violence.” Male entitlement, machismo, and what culture has programmed us to conclude that, while not all actions of violence, manhood has guided much. Manhood celebrates power and supremacy and it is the relentless desire to assert one’s masculinity by targeting something that should then be deemed feminine. Machismo culture has been the origin behind other women-oriented microaggression problems as well. The male supremacy over women has made it a commonplace for example, for many Latinas to tolerate lustful remarks or several other forms of street violence. By normalizing these actions and not addressing the repercussions, more Latinas are going to continue to be harmed through sexism, misogyny, and violence.
As a result, women are told to be more watchful, to dress in a way that avoids abuse and to stay away from males if alone overall siding with the aggressorsAlthough we are moving towards eliminating stereotypical norms, I think it’s equally important to educate the men who grow up exposed to the machismo culture. I believe that educating men shows that the task to change social behavior is not the woman’s responsibility, and the impact of machismo is disproportionately weighted against Latinas. In some cases, some men are unaware of the unconscious behavior problems and biases they may have that equally play a role in silencing Latinas. Macho culture tends to refer to a social environment that promotes or encourages macho behaviors, following the stereotype, a man wins respect in a macho society by his willingness to run his household, make sexual conquests, and protect his honor, if necessary through aggressions. As a result, we need men to do more than apologize and feel remorseful.
People need to reshape and take part in dismantling this long-lived patriarchal system, which will only take place if we commence to take a closer look at masculinity and gradually start removing the layers of constraints and oppressive limitations that have helped make it such a toxic force.While machismo is such a prevalent topic in Latinx society, others may contend that ‘macho culture’ is not to blame for the rise in violence against women. “There is another reason why blaming macho culture might stand in the way of reducing violence against women in Mexico: it stigmatizes Mexican men. Stereotyping Mexican men as violent machos limits their ability to embody other, more empathetic, and caring kinds of masculinity. This particularly applies to poor, indigenous, and rural Mexican men, who are stereotyped as machos by other Mexicans.”
It is important to note that there are other ways in which Machismo can re-emerge. Machismo comes in many different forms. Acknowledging these distinctions can help people to excuse their sexually violent actions by actually blaming macho culture for abuse against women. So, given that machismo has many contrasting meanings and embodiments, it is inadequate to use macho culture to explain violence against all women. Although there is substantial evidence that male aggression and superiority are normalized by masculine attitudes, social structure by itself does not illustrate why violence occurs.There are many reasons at stake in triggering and promoting abuse against women across the world, including gender inequality, patriarchal and racial oppression, social pressure, traumatic memories in childhood and trauma, mental dependence to name but a few. When women communicate with macho culture this often means little about gender relationships and more about sexism and gender roles. This discrimination itself brings about frustration and violence, too often. “Toxic masculinity is culture. It’s the way we (men and women) raise little boys to think of themselves as emotionally and physically tough, as inherently different from little girls, as powerful and strong.” As stated in an article by Celia Patricia Kaplan titled, Young Latinas and Abortion: The Role of Cultural Factors, Reproductive Behavior, and Alternative Roles to Motherhood, it says “As a result of immigration and increasing participation in American life, Latina women are influenced simultaneously by their cultural heritage and by the social and economic realities of the majority society.” Wanting to blame machismo behavior against women through abuse enables men to excuse their violently abusive behavior. Blaming the practice of machismo culture would stand in the way of minimizing violence against women: it stigmatizes Hispanic men. Stereotyping Latinos as aggressive alpha males reduces their capacity to portray other types of masculinity, which are more empathic and loving.
Sexism is attributed to the gender of the Chicana. “Gender inequality perpetuates a culture of violence. When women are viewed as something less, as persons subjected to male authority, men feel less hesitation in using and degrading women for their satisfaction as their satisfaction is deemed to be of greater importance.” Gender inequality, pervasive in the U.S., defines incentives and wealth for varying lives across multiple racial communities in America. The anglo-Saxon society also exploits the Chicano community in both political and economic terms. Despite this sense of equality, gender norms have impacted Latinas who face specific and well-documented vulnerabilities when it comes to feminine norms.Because of gender, women have not obtained the opportunities and rights that females have demanded for years.
For some of us, sexism has a bigger issue, which is deeply rooted in our historical narrative, making any change almost impossible. As the reading examines, young Latinas face special barriers related to race, ethnicity, acculturation, and gender norms that can have an influential impact on their quality of life. Sexism is a bidirectional problem caused by the people who perpetuate the stereotypical standards of what a woman ‘should’ be, and by the women who strive to maintain those ideals by working endlessly to comply. Sexism manifests itself in many forms but society still fails to acknowledge it because it is less evident. For instance, these habits can begin at home; where Latinas are told to be careful or to ‘clean their brothers’ room. And boys are removed from responsibility. The Chicana described by social scientists is considered by the Chicano to be a submissive, passive, individual. Her responsibilities are usually in the household and disconnected from the world around her and unaware of that. As explained by Cisneros on page 290, “I know [my mother] dreamt of becoming some sort of artist – she could sing and draw – but I’m sure she never dreamt of mothering seven kids.” The Catholic Church is also a big factor that perpetuates women’s roles as a component and retains the current family and sex roles. Mariano and sexism are essentially rooted in Christianity. The name derives from none other than la Virgen Maria who is profoundly relevant in the history of Latinx culture. To young girls, looking up to her from an early age is not uncommon, so they are often encouraged to become just like her.
Through the lens of sexism, the Chicana is seen by many as la Virgin Maria, who is divine, maternal, a virgin, and a wife. Even if a Latina wants to seek higher education, the parents still also expect her to marry in the Latinx community and ultimately become a mother. Cisneros acknowledges how a woman is expected in Hispanic culture to not leave the home of her father once she is married. The assumptions become troublesome seeing as they established self-fulfilling prophecies where both males and females tend to feel complacent about the given gender roles.Through 2011, the current Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto was questioned during an interview about the cost of one kilo of tortillas. His answer was quick, ‘I am not the house lady, I’m sorry. I guess it must be around 18 pesos.” The fact is, powerful people with political and social power tend to hide behind sexism remarks regarding women’s roles in society, making it much more difficult to detach men from regular tasks, like purchasing tortillas. This hostility has, however, been considered an amusing yet fair remark. Words falling within this context of politics and other facets of power continue to ridicule women.
In recent years, due to sexism numerous people have taken to the streets of Mexico City to protest murder, rape, and other violence of people in Mexico. In the first half of 2019 alone, 1,835 people were assassinated in Mexico, according to the Mexican geophysicist María Salguero. Via the media, certain gender and sexual roles are reinforced. Let’s first recognize, for starters, the impact sexism has on both genders. One can argue sexism is harmful to men as well as to women because it does not allow men to have their full range of emotions. As Professor Iris Lopez, director of the Program for Latin American & Latina Studies has mentioned when a young kid is trained to not to cry because men don’t show emotion, this cycle can be problematic as it can cause individuals to shut down their emotions and drift away from themselves and those around.
The objectification of women leads too in unfair and dysfunctional relationships between women and their children which threaten their quality of life. Men from a young age are trained to suppress their emotions, and anything, not overly-male is a menace to their masculinity. If we want to have a radical shift in the Latinx culture, we need to start by changing the deeply ingrained concept of sexism. At a young age, we need to let kids know that it’s safe to show emotions and make them understand that in no way or shape this can be a challenge to their masculinity. Although none of this is unique to race or religion, Latino society strongly promotes the belief that people ought to be hyper-masculine to be guys. Ultimately, Chicanas are an ethnic minority who are overwhelmingly marginalized by men due to her gender and ethnicity. Because of the ethnicity and gender of the Chicana, sexism, and machismo harassment is vastly prominent in Latinx culture and is two principal issues in the lives of Chicanas that the Latina experience. Often, the need for interventions and improvements in social practices begins within the household.
I believe in order to break the cycle of oppression we need to make it possible to have these kinds of conversations. And still more people have to do anything other than justify themselves and feel sorry. People need to go against common perception and reshape how Latinas should be treated by undermining this hard-lived patriarchal structure. A change in Cultural Expectations will influence the patriarchal dominance over women which would only take place if we start to take a deeper look at masculinity and sexism and gradually start removing the layers of limitations and hierarchical drawbacks that have decided to make it such a harmful force.
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