My parents have been living in the United States for 20 years and I am a part of the first generation of my family to be born in the United States. This means that growing up I was exposed to both Mexican and American culture. At times growing up with both cultures was difficult because I was exposed to different cultural standards, which made it difficult for me to find a balance between the cultures. I want to focus on the sexism that is present in these first chapters of The House of Spirits and compare it to the sexism I have encountered growing up in a Mexican household in America.
Esteban provides various examples, through his actions, of the Latin American sexism because he embodies the definition of machismo. First of all, before he marries Clara he spends his time assaulting young women without thinking his actions are wrong. Further, whenever a young woman would come to ask for his last name for their child he would deny it because how could he know she didn’t just “wiggle her tail at the first man she saw and then come accusing him” ( Allende, 74). This provides an example on how women were expected to stay virgins and if they had relations various men they would have been considered promiscuous. This is still evident in today’s Latin American culture because women are expected to be pure until they are married. While on the other hand, if a man is unfaithful or had relations with various women it can be simply brushed off by the saying “asi son los hombres”. Another example involving Esteban has to do with the way he judged Nivea and Clara, in regards to their fight for equality. He believes that the woman’s place is in the home, not in politics or anywhere that provides women with power or a voice. For his own daughter Blanca, “he believed her destiny was marriage and a brilliant life in society”, while on the other hand he had different expectations for his sons (Allende, 152). This standard is still upheld in Hispanic household. Simply from conversing with some of my other Hispanic friends, they feel the divide between the sexes in their own homes. Girls are taught from a young age that they are required to keep the house and do everything for the man because their place is in the kitchen.
Do I think our societies; especially the Latino societies have bettered in terms of equality of the sexes? My answer is yes and no because machismo is so engraved in Latino culture that I don’t think that it will ever completely disappear from those societies, but it will not stop women for fighting for what they deserve.