Macho Macho Man
As said by many, Latin America is known for its very machismo idiosyncrasy. Hearing this several times by many people, I never really gave it a thought till I got here. Every day without a doubt, I am whistled at, hissed at, honked by drivers on the road, and receive cat calls in every corner that I turn. There is not a day that goes by in which this happens, not only to me, but to all of the women that walk by men, especially on construction sight. It does not matter what clothes you wear, how bad your hair looks; you could literally roll out of bed and walk outside and there will a number of men that will hiss, whistle, and honk at you. The men will go out of their way and stop what they are doing to try to get the women’s attention.
As stated in the dictionary machismo- is an exaggerated sense of power or the right to dominate. Many men in Ecuador believe that the women are the one to cater to their every need because they are the ones out at work and making the money. Living with a host family and talking to Ecuadorian women about this matter, really allowed me to see how machismo is really like among men.
Every day around lunch time, my host mom is at home alone and hard at work in the kitchen preparing an amazing two course meal for her son, daughter-in-law, herself, and me. I am one of the first to get home from school and I help her with preparing the table. Sometimes my host brother comes in right when the food is served and we are eating. First thing, he begins to complain about how hungry he is and how he wants to be served right away. My host mom or daughter-in-law has to stop eating to serve him. And, when he is done eating, he gets up from the table and walks away without giving thanks for the food and without pulling in his chair or taking his plate to the sink. He does not cook, clean, or pick up after himself because he believes that is the women’s job.
They’re many times in which I ask my host my why are men that way and her response is that’s how it is and that’s how it’s been for centuries.
The women in the Ecuadorian culture are seen to serve the man and children in their family. So, once they’re married their needs become second. For instance, I met this really nice girl in Cuenca, who was a mother of three handsome little boys at a young age. She was 17 years old when she got pregnant and was forced to marry her current husband and father of the 3 boys. As we spoke, she was intrigued about me being from the states and studying abroad. As she said that, I notice a sad reflection in her face. She is a woman with many goals and dreams, and one of her dreams is to go back to school and get a degree. I ask her why doesn’t she just go and sign-up for school, her responses is that her husband will not allow her. Her husband is a very jealous man who is not comfortable with her being around other men at all. And, this is only one of the many cases of the women in Ecuador.
They’re so many things that could be said about how women here are being treated, but there is very little to say about how women are fighting against machismo. I know that there will be a day when the women will not give in to machismo and will fight to diminish that type of behavior. It will only make it a better and safe place for women not just in Ecuador, but all over the world.