Guest Voces: South American Latinas “link” their voices on International Women’s Day

LatinaLista — Today the world celebrates International Women’s Day.
While the official theme for today is: “Women and men united to end violence against women and girls,” the day should also be marked by women sharing their voices to be heard.
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On Latina Lista, we carry a section called “Linking Latinas.” The section is precisely dedicated to elevating the voices of Latinas who live in Central and South America and who may not have the opportunity to be as easily heard in their respective countries.
Also, just as importantly, the section enlightens us all as to what life is like for other women in other countries.
For example, Jennifer from Venezuela recounts her horrifying experience being held at gunpoint and threatened with rape by men who charged her family’s home to steal from them. Jennifer, a lawyer, has definite ideas as to who the men may be and who could be behind a growing trend in Venezuela.
Martha from Mexico wonders why women in her country are being more affected by the bad economy than men. She notes a government study that found unemployment has risen greater among women. She has some ideas as to why this is happening and what women in her country can do about it.


Ana Maria from Argentina introduces us all to a beloved cartoon character that has been popular in South America for almost 50 years. Malfada is a 6-year-old girl who worries about the health of the world and takes its temperature. Ana Maria shares that Malfada is all about getting us to think outside of ourselves, our problems and realize people have no borders.
Valerie from Puerto Rico feels not enough mainland Americans understand her island nation and explains Puerto Rico’s legal status and history to the United States. Valerie shares how her country’s unique status makes it hard to even buy something online at Amazon.
Then there’s Janett from Peru who explores the difference between curiosity and gossip and how both concepts are impacting the leadership of her country and leaving the people wondering they should be thankful for knowing private details or disgusted.
Mayra from Guatemala isn’t holding her breath that her country will get much better in 2009. She shares that her country ended 2008 as the most violent on record and her country’s new president is not instilling much hope in his people.
And Anahi from Mexico wants to set the record straight when it comes to her country’s bad rap in the press. While she admits that Mexico has its share of problems due to drug violence, she argues that the U.S. is not an innocent bystander. She takes issue with American media saying that they focus only on one part of the U.S.-Mexico drug battle and Mexico is getting all the blame.
There are more stories from other women from Chile and Colombia who offer interesting insights, explanations and even solutions to the problems that affect women and the world. In the coming weeks, we are adding more voices from more countries.
We invite you to read how these women see the world from their unique corners of it and how their voices link us all in a global chain of understanding one another.

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10 Comments

  1. Idler said:

    Much as I love Latin American culture, machismo is clearly a widespread feature. I’ve had more than one Latina tell me that she wanted to steer clear of Latin men.

  2. Panchito said:

    Idler,
    No Latino uses “macho” to describe himself or another Latino unless he is using it as an insult. This word has become a common American word often used as a stereotype for all Latinos. The unfortunate fact is that women all over the world, including here in the U.S., are often victimized and treated like second class citizens. To suggest this is a Latino problem is very hypocritical and avoids the personal responsibility that all societies share in ensuring women are loved, respected and treated as equal all over the world.

  3. Idler said:

    Panchito,
    Some cultures are more “machista” than others. Latin culture is more machista than Anglo culture, which is how the word got the currency it has.
    It’s not “hypocritical” to point out these differences, nor does it excuse the brutality of any non-latino male against any female.
    I don’t know where you come from, but I have heard the word “macho” used in a complimentary spirit, and by a woman (not about me, unfortunately; of me she said, “No, ¡vos sos un dulce!”

  4. Panchito said:

    Idler,
    the question is not where I come from but where I have been. I’ve lived, worked and /or traveled through most of the world including Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Trust me when I tell you that there is no country on earth more “Macho” than the good old U.S.A. We love to go around the world and kick people in the a….I invite you to read a little U.S. History and find out for yourself. Most countries fear us because they know we are always ready and willing to get into a fight. Some words from our Soldier’s creed:
    “I am an American Soldier.
    I will always place the mission first.
    I will never accept defeat.
    I will never quit.
    I will never leave a fallen comrade.
    I stand ready to deploy, engage, and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat.”
    I lived that creed proudly for many years. and I guarantee you that there is no one on earth more “macho” than a U.S. Soldier or Marine. No sir, we don’t win our wars by having some Spanish Senorita referring to us as “No, ¡vos sos un dulce!”

  5. Idler said:

    Panchito, “machismo” doesn’t refer to questions of personal bravery as much as the relations between the sexes. There is more equality between the sexes, and there has been traditionally, in Anglo culture than Latin culture, for better or for worse, and I’m sure you are well aware of this. Anglo women are far less likely to be compliant (individual personality is obviously an important factor, of course), and their also likely to be worse cooks and not dress in as feminine a manner. I have spent more than enough time in various parts of Latin America, and among people of different social classes, to say what I do with confidence.
    I’m sure that if I came up to you at a party and reminisced about how women wait upon men in, say, Ecuador or Argentina, you’d say, “I know what you mean, man! Great, isn’t it!” So don’t pretend that what I’m saying isn’t indeed the case.

  6. Panchito said:

    Idler,
    I’ll give you credit in that you seem to be a little more familiar with the Latino culture then some of the other clowns that post in this blog. However, your definition of “Macho” lacks historical perspective.
    What you just described are the traditional family roles between a husband and a wife that were in place since the Neanderthals roamed the earth. These traditional roles survived for thousands of years but began to fade away with the industrial revolution (here in the U.S., this happened with lightning speed during WW II as American women were pressed into the labor force to support the industrial war machine). You can still find these traditional family roles in parts of Latin America but they are also disappearing faster than we think as their economies transition from an agrarian to an industrial economy.
    Interestingly, I meet more and more couples here in the U.S. who have decided to give up their second income so that “Mom” can stay home and raise the kids. This means less discretionary income is available and yes – more home cooked meals. Don’t be surprised if the trend completely reverses here in the U.S. towards the traditional family roles while Latin America continues to move away from them. Based on “your” definition, the Anglo culture will then be the “Macho” culture and “Anglo women” will have to learn to cook.

  7. Panchito said:

    You make some worthwhile factual observations but they don’t undermine my point. Historical perspective has its uses but it doesn’t change current reality, which is what I was commenting on. In other words, all you seem to do is provide historical support for what I claimed!
    Mind you, I still enjoyed reading it, because I value historical perspective and you provided it in admirable fashion.
    I would point out that while one can talk at a high level of generality about common traditional relationships, there are still clearly discernible cultural differences in the relations of the sexes between, say, northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Obviously one can drill down with greater precision, but the point is already made.
    Anglo culture, before it arrived in the Americas, had greater parity between the sexes (though men were putatively dominant) than Latin culture does, except in urban areas that are effectively part of the global middle class culture or above.
    I’m afraid you’re shoehorning your hastily generalized historical perspective into “my definition” when you say that the Anglo culture will be the “macho” culture. Nevertheless, I think you point to the real phenomenon of at least some anglos recovering their esteem for the stay-at-home-mom role. No doubt some immigrants from Latin America will lag, but probably not all that much. I suspect that the phenomenon is already pretty well represented in the same socio-economic strata among Hispanics, i.e., middle class people just like those of Anglo or other orign that are choosing the single-earner model.
    That happens to be what my wife and I are doing. I don’t know how typical we are, since I was born in Britain and she was born in Paraguay, but we know lots of other families who are doing the same thing.

  8. Sandra said:

    Panchito, what utter BS! I am an anglo woman and have managed home and work and my family has gotten home cooked meals throughout my working career. Your stereotyping of anglo women is ridiculous. I know Hispanic women who some manage work and caring for family with home cooked meals and some who fast food it with their families. There is no cultural difference between anglo women and Hispanic women in that respect.
    I wouldn’t catagorize the whole Hispanic culture as being “macho” but it does seem to be prevelant among the males of that culture from what I have seen.

  9. Panchito said:

    Sandra,
    you’re going after the wrong guy on this one. I guess you just don’t like me.
    : ( You need to take your fight to Idler. He was the one that said: “in Anglo culture …..Anglo women are far less likely to be compliant….and also likely to be worse cooks and not dress in as feminine a manner.” I’m sure it’s hard for you to believe it but I’m actually on your side on this one. : )

  10. Idler said:

    I’ll take you both on!
    Sandra, if indeed you’re complaining about what I wrote, please note that I said “far less likely” rather than all people are uniformly a given way.
    Maybe you’re reinforcing Panchito’s point that there may be a return to domestic arts in the anglo culture (or at least some segments of it) and that the Hispanic immigrant culture has assimilated, perhaps by necessity, to a less domestically oriented way of life.

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