Stereotypes in My Culture
In Latino families gender stereotypes exist. Not to generalize or anything but in my point of view, in Latino families, women are the ones in the kitchen. I know in some families, the mother keeps the daughter in the kitchen to learn how to cook. In my family, however, there is an equal amount of work in the kitchen between both genders. A Latino mother once told me that it is essential for a woman to know at least five different dishes that will be perfect for her husband. It amazes me that I have to learn how to please my husband. Shouldn't I be able to please him by just being me? Why do I have to clean, cook, think, talk, and do things a certain way just for him?
Maybe it goes back to the pueblos where the women had to stay home and take care of the children because the men had to go hunting, but even so, why couldn't the women go hunting? It angers me tremendously. I do not know where these stereotypes came from and why they still exist today. When I speak with my male Latino friends and ask them if they would ever cook, I receive a rude response along the lines of, "Oh hell no! Girls belong in the kitchen and I belong on the couch." Why does it seem that women are not worth anything or that their roles are already planned for them? In a way, it disgusts me to know that these stereotypes exist within my beloved culture.
As a girl grows up in a Latino family, they get placed into a category: The Caretakers. They learn how to cook, fold laundry properly, clean, and of course all the while, act like a "proper lady." Somewhere in these many lessons a girl learns to say the right things to a man. For example, sometimes a girl has to act a little bit dumbfounded so that the man can seem intelligent if, even in some cases, he might not be. My mother always informed me that you have to give the husband "confidence" and any insult from his wife can really affect his self-esteem (as if a wife wouldn't be affected by an insult from her husband!). All this nonsense seems quite frustrating to me and I think that it is for other teenagers in this generation, too. Teenagers live in a different generation than their parents, obviously, but in each new generation there are always norms of society, family, and culture that one follows and tries to continue in the future.
My Latino friends and I always giggle at the fact that our mothers always let our dads wear the pants in the family. I think it is very normal that a wife does this, especially in Latino families. I personally think that wives say that husbands rule the house while the wife is the actual backbone because I feel that the husbands want to feel as if it is in the past where the men ruled. The truth is that women are aware of the new generation and its different norms, but choose to act as if it is still in the past. I really admire my mom because I know she is the one who calls the shots and makes things happen in the house. It certainly is a blessing.
Angelica is 16 years old and lives in Chicago. On the weekends, she spends her time working, playing sports, dancing, going to church, and studying. Her role model is her dad, because "he always worked really hard to provide and looked for a better future not only for him, but for his family." Have a question for Angelica? Send us an email!