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Throughout time gender roles and stereotypes have transitioned and accommodated to social views. There have been many innovative ideas and misconceptions that have shaped what we know or believe about sex-roles. Periodically, individuals have developed their own idea of what the roles for each gender are. These ideas are influenced by factors such as theories, culture, religion, etc. Theories complement one another by sharpening our awareness of different ways in which communication, gender, and culture interact. One of the main factors that contribute to these ideas is cultural background. The way that people are raised has a great impact on the way we think about gender roles and stereotypes. During the nineteenth century, Mexican women were undervalued and treated to be nothing more than housewives, and even though women have more rights today than before, there are still some biases against gender roles in a traditional Mexican family.
There are a variety of different societies and cultures that have different views on gender. Some of these cultures give women equal opportunities, such as the right to vote, education, labor, health care, etc. And some other societies deprive women from those opportunities. In addition, women usually receive the most misconceptions about the role they have in society. For example, women were restricted from getting education, from practicing sports, or from working. Society believed the only task for women was to take care of children, and be in charge of the household activities. When women demonstrated physical strength, they were labeled unfeminine; if women could not procreate, they were considered to be an incomplete woman. In most cultures, women had less rights and opportunities than men. In this essay Mexican women in the Southwest are the perfect example to analyze how culture influenced their theories about gender role in this particular society.
One of the main characteristics of the Mexican culture is that men and women are noticeably separated by spheres. One of the main reasons of this division relates to the different idea of production and reproduction. Mexican women are more in the reproduction sphere, and the main focus is at the family nucleus. Men were in charge of the outside labor, while women were in charge of domestic activities. Parallelism and symmetry were fundamental features of gender relations and that complementary elements outweighed hierarchical ones. Kellog analyses the conventional published texts about Mexican history and concludes that women from the Southwest of Mexico, since the Aztecs, were devalued and dominated by males. In addition, Cline (1993) views the evidence on women with respect to household headship, polygamy, age at marriage, women’s position in the household, and work. Overall, women were subordinated to men.
Not only were women restricted from specific activities because of gender roles, they also affected their marriage. The average Mexican family is based on the monogamy theory. Monogamy is a type of mating system in which each adult mates with only one member of the opposite sex. Another type of marriage is polygamy, which is the opposite of monogamy. Polygamy is a type of mating system in which each adult may mate with more than one member of the opposite sex. For instance, in the southern regions of Mexico, it was very common for men to have more than one partner with whom they will have multiple children. Men were allowed to practice polygamy but women were not. If women were to be caught with another man, they would be killed or sacrificed by taking them to the top of a pyramid and taking out their hearts.
In January 1916, under the governance of Salvador Alvarado, the Primer Congreso Feminista (the First Feminist Congress) was held in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico. This assembly of feminists was the first of its kind in Mexico and the second such meeting ever held in Latin America. During this Congress, the feminist movement demanded more freedom to carry out their aspirations such as having a profession or a trade that would allow them to earn a living. To educate women intellectually and to have open opportunities for them in all the fields of action of which only men participated like medicine and pharmacy, as well as fostering hobbies in literature and writing about hygiene and art. Another important issue that women demanded was the right to vote. After the Mexican Revolution in 1910, political chaos began. This is when women began to stand up more for themselves. As for the resolutions, several things remained in the ink. Rationalist education and women’s voting rights failed to pass. Undoubtedly, that first congress was important to the contribution of this movement of women in Yucatan and further on throughout the country.
The high desire of women that want to succeed and overcome themselves in their life and the need of success has brought many rewards for feminists. For example, the Congress in Yucatan Mexico, after several trials, resulted in the approbation of the right to vote, and the right for education for women. Just as society needs to continue to advocate for equality between the sexes, people also need to remind women and men what feminism entails, rather than let our opponents claim to define the movement for us. Several cultures are still pursuing to obtain more gender equality. In fact, many feminist movements are arising, and big organizations are promoting gender equality. After all, these movements have the same goal to identify women as capable as men to do all kinds of activities. Even though Mexican women are taking action for their rights, the influence in cultural background still manipulates society’s ideas on gender roles.
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