23 November 2006


My UnThanksgiving Thanksgiving & Male Chauvinism

I can safely say that I won't be celebrating Thanksgivng in any shape or form. It is, afterall, the day the white people came, broke bread with and began killing the native americans up north. I'm sure the indigenous blood in the people here would curdle if I began promoting this holiday!! And it's hard to get into the holiday spirit when it's 34 degrees (C) outside (90+ F) and I still have to work. Despite my griping, however, I do have an incredible amount to be grateful for. I hope you all have a wonderful, cheery Thanksgiving and know that your friend down south is thinking of you always!!


So, male chauvinism i.e. machismo. I finally decided that my advanced class needed to start conversing more, seeing as it's a conversation class, and that I really had no more material to jam down their throats. Last Friday I started them off with a writing exercise and asked them to share their ideas on the importance of gender roles in creating and maintaining a stable society. Needless to say, the responses I received ranged from "I don't believe in gender roles because all men and women are equal now" to "men drive tractor trailers and women stay at home to take care of the children and cook. Men cannot cook. Women cannot drive." Later on, I had them discuss concrete examples of what men and women in Ecuador do. For the most part, they liked to say that men and women are capable of the same things and that there is nothing holding women back from pursuing careers that are traditionally saved for men. I had a hard time convincing them to think about the real roles men and women fulfill here. Do men take care of the children and cook? Are there female cab drivers? By the end of the class, it seemed that the men were made to feel guilty for the limitations placed upon the women in their society. This paved the way for a very interesting discussion that the same class held last night: why are some women male chauvinists? One of my students had written about the glorification of masculinity (her words!) in Ecuadorian society so I challenged them to think about how women are perpetuating this behavior. Here, when a little boy hurts himself and starts to cry, most mothers immediately hit or yell at the tyke to stop crying; only girls cry. From this point, boys are conditioned to become chauvinistic men who look for any opportunity to exert their power over women. It is well known that in Latin America, many married men cheat on their wives. This isn't to say that men in other countries don't cheat, but I believe that the motives behind the cheating are quite different (this is just my opinion, remember. I'm no sociologist and I definitely have NOT spent my time analyzing married men and their motives behind cheating!!). After discussing this with a latina friend of mine, I think that men here regard their wives as sacred, in terms of sexual behavior, and look at them more as the mother of their children rather than as a partner. Whatever their sexual history may be, once the woman becomes a mother, she is deemed to have lost all passion. Many men won't divorce their wives, even if they have a seriously unpleasant relationship and sex has almost nothing to do with it, because they respect the mother of their children too much. However, because they don't respect her as a partner or equal, emotional and physical abuse can take place. Men cheat on their wives as a means of exerting their power and feeling more "manly." Extramarital relationships hardly ever have to do with emotions and love; more often than not, it's just about satisfying their carnal desires and gaining a level of respect from their colleagues for having "conquered" a woman. The "other woman" in this situation is viewed as an object, a toy through which the man can gain masculine power. Like I said, these ideas can't be applied to every male! These are just my observations and musings after having listened to my class discuss the roles of men and women, and after having discussed this topic with close friends. I'm interested in hearing what you think about this...


I spent a wonderful birthday weekend with my friends in Ambato (2.5 hours south of Quito) and got to relax, hike a little, and breathe fresh air! It was more than I could ask for. Monday and Tuesday nights were spent dancing with my students in lieu of class and I had a great time! I really enjoyed connecting with my students on a more equal playing field and got to know a few of them quite well. Alas, parties and jubilation don't last forever and I had to go back to teaching last night.

Oh my...a foreign girl living in Machala! You must be mighty brave and adventurous. Anyways, cool blog.

Saludos desde Guayaquil.
Interesting post, now I can comment on this thing. Growing up with that stuff is kinda hard (really hard actually) I liked what you said about the women influencing this type of behavior too, it happens in alot of cultures. Good piece, see ya :>
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