Post: July 29th, 2014
It’s 2:01am on Tuesday July 29th, 2014. Hi, my name is Geena and I suffer from insomnia. I also suffer from PTSD which could be the cause of my insomnia however that’s not what today’s blog is about. I’m only telling you this so you get a peak at my frame of mind right now (just in case I end up deleting this blog later). I’ve never written about this topic nor have I ever really voiced my true opinions about this in fear of offending close friends or family members. However, my mom taught me to always stand up for what I believe in and use my voice when needed and since this topic has been on my mind lately, that’s what I’m finally going to do.
Earlier today I posted the above quote on my Instagram page. Within an hour it had over 400 likes. I actually stole the quote from my friend Yaya. She and her husband have been married for 14 years and she says the above quote is why. I absolutely heart it.
A little background on me: I come from a huge Mexican family (I seriously can’t even tell you how many people are in my family). I grew up in an area where 90% of the population is Mexican (if not more). Growing up, all my friends were Mexican, all my boyfriends were Mexican and all I ever ate was pretty much Mexican food (I swear the first time I ever had sushi was after I was out of college). Mexican is who I am and all I ever really knew….until I went to college.
I’m going to preface the subject I am about to talk about with this: I love being Mexican. I love my culture. I appreciate where I came from. I love hearing the stories my Grandpa tells me about being in a mariachi band in Mexico and performing live on the radio. I love hearing stories from my mom, uncles, and aunts about where they grew up and what they did to survive. I love seeing how far they’ve all come and I love having a huge family. I love having lots of cousins and lots of kids constantly running around. I love, love, love being Mexican. There is something about the loyalty and family in our culture that is untouchable, in my opinion.
With that said, there are things that occur at times in my culture that I absolutely cannot stand; one of them being, gender roles. Now I’m not saying that EVERY Mexican family is like this nor am I saying that Mexicans are the only ones where this sort of gender role assignment exists. I’m just talking about the things I have seen personally.
Growing up, I saw lots of people in my community abide by similar gender roles (when I say lots, I’m talking about family, friends family, neighbors, etc.). Some cases were more extreme than others however they all existed, except in my household (I’ll discuss that later). The women were seen as the homemakers. They cooked, and cleaned, and took care of the kids. They made sure dinner was ready and served immediately as their husbands got home from work. It wasn’t something they necessarily always wanted to do; it was something that was just expected of them. Most women didn’t work and if they did, they were still expected to have food on the table, the kids taken care of, and the house cleaned all before their husband came home. If not, it wasn’t going to be good.
I’ve seen families where women had no voice. They couldn’t make a decision on their own and had to ask their husband permission for everything, only for him to pretty much always say no. I’ve seen some of the brightest, once lively women slowly turn into a face full of despair and lifelessness. I’ve seen women get in trouble or yelled at for not having the food served on time or for it not tasting “how it’s supposed to taste.” I’ve seen women slave over meals all day long for MANY family members only to be the ones also doing the cleaning up after the feast. All while the men and male children sit there, not ever lifting a finger, not even offering to help. I’ve seen women be at their husband’s beck and call only for them to get yelled at in return for not doing something right. “This isn’t the right salsa! It’s not hot enough!” Seriously, no joke.
It’s just an accepted way of life in our culture. That’s how it is. That’s how it always has been. It wasn’t until I became an adult and started experiencing things outside of my little circle that I realized that that was not how the rest of the world lived. “You mean the girls don’t always have to serve the men in the house first? You mean there are guys out there that actually get up and put food on their own damn plate ANNNDDD even serve themselves their own drink??? You mean there are guys out there who actually like to do the cleaning, cooking, and serving??? WTF?!!” Yeah, those were all the thoughts that crossed my mind as I slowly started to experience the real world. I know this may sound foreign to some of you, but please know that to others it’s very real. This has existed for centuries and yes this still exists right now, in 2014. Sure things are slowly changing however it’s still very much real and alive (Trust me; I see it every time I go home). And that’s why I am sitting here typing (at now 3am in the morning) saying, it’s time to break the cycle.
Don’t get me wrong. By no means am I saying that women should never cook for their men or women should never “serve” their men. I think that if it’s something a woman genuinely wants to do, then by all means do it! But it should never get to the point where it is EXPECTED and where you even get in trouble for not doing it. I don’t care what you tell me that will never be right in my mind. I don’t think anything should ever be EXPECTED in a relationship from either side (yes I’m talking to you gold diggers…it’s about time you go out and start making your own money too).
Now, if in your household you have decided that one person likes to cook and the other likes to do the yard work and that’s how you have worked it out, then by all means do that. I’m not talking about you. I’m talking about households where chores and daily activities have become expected and so routine that you don’t even realize anything is wrong with the way you have been living your life for so many years.
I also believe that everyone should have an opinion and believe that not one person’s opinion is better than the other. I understand that every relationship has its own ways of making it work however when one person’s soul is being sacrificed, that is something that needs to be recognized and fixed, ASAP.
As for me, I wouldn’t call myself a feminist. I’d call myself more of an equal opportunist. I think every person male or female (regardless of race, class, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc.) should be treated as an equal. However, I also understand that a man needs to feel like a man and therefore needs to be treated like one. At the same time, I feel that women are queens and need to be treated like a queen, always. It goes both ways. When both sides have a mutual respect and love for each other, great things happen. I’ve seen it.
Luckily for me, my mom decided a long time ago, that she would never submit to any of these gender roles. She taught me how to be an independent woman. She taught me to make my own money. She taught me to never depend on anyone else. My mom is probably the strongest woman I know and I thank her for teaching me to be just like her. I also thank my dad for never imposing these gender roles on my mom. I thank him for letting her be who she is without ever questioning it. I thank him for never treating my mom like she was second to him and for not allowing me to grow up in a house where the above actions were acceptable. I thank him for showing me how a man should treat a woman, as his equal.
Till next time…