Machismo and My Relationship

To begin with, I’d like to explain why I chose “machismo” as the title for today’s post. It is a term mostly used in Latin America and most describe it as the socially accepted ideas of how a men and women should conduct themselves, placing the male as the leader, the alpha-male. I don’t actually know of an English equivalent to machismo, although some would relate it to male chauvinism or sexism. I didn’t want to title this post as either one of those because machismo isn’t always the same as sexism.

Machismo

Most people would describe machismo as a part of the culture that intends to define how men and women are expected to act, according to their set gender roles. The goal of machismo is to create strong, courageous, “manly” men who lead and submissive, supportive, feminine females to take care of her husband and family. Machismo has the expectation of a man to not cry, to bring home the bacon and take care of his entire family financially without the help of a woman. The man is expected to be tough, hard-working and good with the ladies; the more notches on his belt, the better. The woman is expected to do what her husband wants, to cook what he wants, to have the place clean when he gets home, to be grateful and not be promiscuous.

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Machismo Today

Although society has changed over the decades in terms of reversing of gender roles and acceptance of the participation of women in society, traces of machismo are still visible today. One example that I notice most is chivalry. Men still talk about having to be gentlemen, of never laying their hand on a woman, of opening doors and paying the tab. Although all of these details are small acts of generosity, they’re remnants of a system of beliefs that taught us that women are weak and have to be taken care of.

I was taught to treat others the way I’d like to be treated and to help others. Back then, nobody looked at me strange when I opened a door for a man or offered to pay for dinner. I live in another country now, where the culture is a bit different. When I arrive last at the bus stop, I assume that I am last to get on. Because I am female, however, every single man steps aside and stares at me until I get on the bus. It’s not something that I am ungrateful for, rather something that I had to make a habit of… not being “chivalrous” towards men. It offends many of them. Not accepting an offer to help carry my bag or open a bottle of soda can be taken the wrong way. Damn feminists.

chivalry

At the beginning of my relationship, I was constantly given advice by other women.

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“Don’t pay for anything, he’ll get use to it and then expect you to always pay for everything.”

Wait? HE is the one who’ll get use to it? In the future he’ll expect ME to start buying him everything? I highly doubt that. This society looks down on a women paying for ANYTHING when she has a man. The few times that I have paid for our hotdogs or a taxi ride, he would look down with shame. There is no reason for him to feel shame, but it’s the way he was taught. I let him pay for some things and I cover whatever I order in excess…. which I often times do, I love to eat. If anything, it’s the women here who expect their man to pay for everything, some screen potential boyfriends on how much they make and how much they will be investing in their future girlfriend.

“He goes over to your place? Jeez, you even save the guy money on hotels.”

He’s my boyfriend, not a john. Why would we go to a hotel? I’ve noticed over time that this is from the idea that many have of a man having to do everything get in the woman’s pants. I’ve also had men tell me that I am doing it wrong. If he doesn’t come running when I need to have my gas tank installed or a nail put on the wall, I am not “controlling” him right. “You’re not supposed to make it easy for him, you’ve got to make him work for everything.” GTFO.

“So…is he helping you? You know, how much is he giving you?”

I was a little confused when she first asked, “helps me with what? Specifically? The other day he helped me clean my apartment, fixed the door hinges, and accompanied me to the doctor’s office when I was feeling like crap. Yes, he is very supportive. Oh! You mean by paying my bills?” I’m not saying there is anything wrong with a man helping a woman out financially. But I don’t consider it his responsibility when we are only dating. If he were my husband, living with me, or if we had children toether, then yeah, we’re splitting the bills. Otherwise, like I said before, I’m his girlfriend, not a hooker.

"At 27, My Mom Still Pays My Bills"
To check out the post about this, click on image

In regards to these last couple of points, it’s frustrating enough that I don’t yet have financial independence… that my mom is still helping me financially with my needs. It would be even more embarrassing to be leeching off of a boyfriend as well. The goal here is to find my own financial freedom and end up being an equal player, not remaining a dependent.

I am the man and he is the woman. This one I’ve heard recently from a guy friend. He finds it amusing that while I can’t cook and that I’m not the typical high-maintenance female, my boyfriend takes his sweet time getting ready. His clothes have to combine, “I can’t wear this yellow t-shirt with these jeans.” He takes extreme care of his sneakers, button-up shirts, jeans, baseball caps, you name it; year old items that I always assumed were new. I’d notice him taking a pair of red and black sneakers out of a box and plastic bag and compliment him on his new shoes, only to find out they are years old. He takes extra care grooming his beard and clipping his mustache hairs one by one so they are perfectly even and cuts his own hair every week. He irons his pants and t-shirts regularly and always has crisp white socks. I don’t know how to iron, my shoes will last me about six months if I am extra careful and I always wear dark colors. My clean clothes always end up on top of a suitcase on the floor (I take months to unpack when I move) and when I don’t remember what’s clean and what’s not, I do the smell test. My clean socks are always brown on the bottom, and I rarely style my hair. We are opposites in these areas, but I’ve never considered that I am the man in the relationship. Apparently, these small details indicate that we have switched gender roles to our guy friend.

My femininty

The expectations that others have of me as a “lady” is another of the issues that I’ve dealt with during my stage of culture shock. If I wasn’t being scolded for wearing a pair of Timberland boots with black sweats, I was being criticized for not wearing makeup or not straightening my curly hair. I was also called out at times for being “perverted” if I made a sex joke, something that a “lady” doesn’t do. “Valemadrismo” or not giving a crap was a skill that I acquired over time. To hell with what other people say, although it still bugs me at times. It’s annoying that people think that their opinion of another’s personal life is so valuable.

 

At 27, My Mom Still Pays My Bills

It’s not something that I’m proud of

If anything, I should start there.
When I was 19 years old, I worked full time at a Subway restaurant in North Carolina and relaxed at night at my favorite hookah café with my best friend. During these café visits, we were constantly meeting other people of our age, most were college students. I remember one guy asking my friend and I where we lived, and my shame in saying “with my mom” after mentioning the town I resided in at that time.
Since 2011, I’ve been living in cental Mexico, and I’ve constantly heard comments about my economic situation. I’ve been told that I am spoiled, and I’ve been made to feel guilty about my privileged lifestyle. I’ve heard people boast about how they did it all on their own, coming from a very humble background and having to work their ass off to get where they are. Things were not automatically handed to them like it has been in my case.

Torre Latinoamericana - Mexico City 2013
Torre Latinoamericana – Mexico City 2013

Adolescence to adulthood
I grew up in a culture where teenagers are expected to leave home at 18, to go straight to college after high school, find a job and perhaps a roomate. A society where people are thrown into the young adult world as soon as they turn 18 and find themselves in “the real world” as soon as they graduate from college. Yet at 19, I was working a minimum wage job and unable to afford my own place.

Since 2011, my mom has financially covered all my needs here in Mexico. After high school, I was unsure of what I wanted to study for a few years and continued working at Subway, until I came home one day frustrated. After complaining to my mother about my job and crying that I wanted something else, she mentioned studying abroad.

“It’s too bad you won’t study in Mexico, I could help you out financially to do that.”

Say what? How much is university tuition in Mexico, my country of birth? Is she serious?
I logged onto my computer and began searching universities in Mexico with the major that I had recently become interested in. Struggling from the beginning when I would find university webpages, since I could barely read Spanish. Normally the frustration would win over and I’d close out of the page, but I was determined this time. This could actually be an option for me, if she was serious. I ended up registering for a bachelor’s program here in Cuernavaca back in 2010, a process that took until the spring of 2011 to complete since I had completed all my k-12 studies in North Carolina.

I moved to Cuernavaca in 2011, 22 years old, living alone in a country that I had not lived in since I was three years old.
I arrived with a dream, determined to earn my bachelor’s degree. I had chosen a major which I was passionate about at that time. About two years ago, I began realizing little by little that this major just wasn’t my cup of tea. I remember telling my mom about this when I was in my third semester. I also mentioned that university programs in Mexico aren’t like in the U.S., where you can change your major up until the last year. If I were to change major, I would have to start over from scratch. Depending on what major I changed to, I might have been able to revalidate a few credits. So, after all her hard work to put me through college so far, of course she would respond with

“you’ve already started it. Now you finish it. You can do whatever you want after you finish.”

Stuck
What made things worse is that I was never completely decided on what is is that I wanted. I still haven’t reached that point to this day. If at least I’d had an idea, had I been 100% certain of the alternative that I wanted, I could have changed course. At this point in my life, a lot has changed, I can’t say I regret a thing. The downside is the confusion and the feeling of inadequacy. I found a job at the end of last semester and I was really excited. I saw it as the first step in becoming financially independent. I had finished classes and all I have left to do as part of my degree is complete internships and my thesis. I could balance the new job with those tasks, a sign of stability. Three months later, I was let go from my job. This was not only a huge blow to my ego, being the first time that I was ever fired from a job, but has since thrown me into panic. What now?

Transition

There are a few things that get me down most of the time:

  • When I compare myself to others. When I look at photographs of old highschool classmates with their families. So many of them are married with children, jobs or careers, the mini-van and have their relatives close by. I live alone, far away from my family, unemployed again and have no idea what type of work I will end up doing. Hell, I don’t even know how to drive. I try my hardest to let all of that go. I chose this lifestyle because I wanted to study, I wanted something different. I couldn’t see myself still making subs at 35.
  • When I am reminded of my privileges. This should be something that results in gratitude and nothing more. It took me a while to realize this, but being ashamed of my situation looks as if I am ungrateful for all the efforts of my family to give me these opportunities. Some have tried to convince me to just get a job, to do it all on my own, others to get married. After all the effort my mother has put in the past five years, working non-stop to give me more opportunities to succeed, I think that would be a slap in the face. “Thanks mom, for busting your ass for me. But now I’m going to just do what everyone else thinks that I should be doing.” Not happening.
  • I REALLY dislike my major. Another thing that I have put myself down for. I dislike it so much that I will most likely not work in anything related to what I studied. When I got a job back in May, I was constantly told, “congrats!…So how does it relate to what you are studying?” Shit. It doesn’t. Does it absolutely HAVE TO? That would also be a waste of all that my mom has done for me, no? Not using my degree. Had I known how much I would dislike my major in 2016, I would never have registered for this crap university in 2010-2011. Then again, I wouldn’t be here. I’d still be a “sandwich artist” in North Carolina. Twenty-eight years old, hating my job, and bitter.

I try to remember when I go into panic, I’m not making subs anymore. I’ve learned a lot and have gotten to travel from time to beautiful places in Mexico. This is a moment of transition, yet another opportunity to learn.

Copper Canyon, Chihuahua 2012
Copper Canyon, Chihuahua 2012

Since I’ve had the bad habit of constantly comparing myself to old highschool classmates, I started looking at alumni from my university, spefically those that graduated with my same field of study. Very few of them are working in fields related to what we studied. So why should I feel ashamed for where I currently am? I’m confused, uncertain of my future, but I plan on trying a little bit of everything until I find out what I want to do.

Morelos: A Brief Introduction to Downtown Cuernavaca

Morelos: Introduction to Downtown Cuernavaca

Downtown Cueravaca

The City of Cuernavaca has grown at a rapid rate during the last decade, in terms of population. There are over 6o universities, public and private, within this city and many of the students are out-of-state as well as international students. It has also been the weekend vacation spot for many of Mexico City residents. The downtown area is full of people during the week, but it is the weekend where most of the movement happens in the area. There are interesting places that many of the locals have yet to explore, but are perfect sites for a weekend in Cuernavaca. The intention of this article is to give you a brief introduction to Downtown Cuernavaca, although there are more sites to check out in the city, such as Teopanzolco Pyramids, Chapultepec Ecological Park and the San Anton Waterfall.

Centro Cultural Jardín Borda

This museum and park was built in the late eighteenth century, the work of a wealthy French migrant. Joseph de Laborde, or José de la Borda as he is known in Spanish, made his riches from mines in Taxco, Guerrero, the neighboring state.  Joseph built it as his summer mansion with lush gardens, along with the church of Guadalupe that is adjacent to the mansion.  After his death in 1776 it served as a hotel as well as a public park, by then it already contained many varieties of trees and plants. In 1865, then emperors of Mexico, Maximilian and Charlotte, chose this mansion as their summer home, turning it into a royal palace. During their stay at the Borda Mansion, they had various reunions in which notable guests such as Emiliano Zapata, Sebastian Lerdo de Tejada, Francisco Leyva, Porfirio Díaz, and Diego Rivera were entertained.  Currently, Jardín Borda is a museum, part of the Morelos’ Culture Institute. There are different exhibitions throughout the year in the indoor areas, movies and live concerts in the gardens as well as bazaars in which you can find local, hand-made crafts. All the cultural activities and museum’s activities can be found listed on the online Cultural Agenda of the Morelos Secretary of Culture‘s website.

Catedral y ex-convento de la Asunción

panoramaleftThe Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary was originally built as a monastery in the late sixteenth century with the intention of evangelization after the Spanish conquered the Aztec empire, founded in 1525. The land on which the construction began was donated by Hernan Cortés’ wife, Juana de Zuñiga de Cortés. This monastery went through various changes throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth century, and ended up including a great deal of land which the monks used to produce food and lost much of this land during the Reform Laws of the mid-nineteenth century, where much of the lands of the Catholic church was confiscated by the federal government. Some of these structures can also be seen inside the Robert Brady Museum, which also used to be part of this monastery. The church offers mass many days throughout the week and even offers mass in English on Sundays.

chapelrightrFirst view of main church from entrance main gate

 After entering through the main gate of the Cathedral grounds, I saw a smaller chapel on the left, beige color the chapel of Santa María. Straight ahead was the first view of the main church from the front entrance, after passing a pathway of brick sidewalk. To the right another chapel, the chapel Tercera Orden, pink and beige with beautiful sculptures on each side of the wooden doors. Inside the chapel of Santa María stands a sculpture of Saint Christopher holding baby Jesus.

The chapel of Santa María

stchrisbabyyisus      entrancesantamaria

colorful windows – Chapel of Santa María

aaaaah

The chapel of the Third Order / Capilla de la Tercera Orden

 chapel2   chapel2sculpture

What caught my eye from the first time I visited the Cathedral was the carving of a skull and cross bone above the door to the main church:

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Barranca de Amanalco – Gully

This area is one of the oldest tourist sites in Cuernavaca, a river valley that runs throughout a good portion of the city and is full of vegetation. You can enjoy a brief 20 minute walk through the park, since only a small portion of it is actually open to the public. The walk includes many steps, a hanging wooden bridge, lookout areas, beautiful views of the water and at times throughout the year, events arranged by the Secretary of Tourism of the state. My favorite part of walking through here is the smell at times of the fresh vegetation, of the moss that grows on the rock walls and the sound of the water pouring.

 

Palacio de Cortés – Museo Regional Cuauhnahuac

During the Spanish Conquest, a former Tlahuica structure was torn down, although not in its totality, to construct a fortress that would become residence of Hernan Cortés and his then wife Juana Zuñiga. It was built in the early sixteenth century and three centuries later was used as a local jail. Over the centuries it has been renovated and worked on various times and has since reduced in size. It now serves as a regional museum, named Cuauhnahuac, which was the prehispanic name of Cuernavaca. The museum charges fifty pesos for entrance during the week and has free admission to Mexican citizens on Sundays with official government identification. The areas of the museum open to the public consist of three stories, which show the history of the state of Morelos. The exhibits include artifacts such as coins, swords, carriages, prehispanic crafts, colonial furniture, maps and pictures of important characters throughout history, both Spaniard, Criollo, Mestizo and indigenous. On the second and third floor, there are open balconies with gorgeous views of downtown Cuernavaca at the front of the building and the view of Leyva street and the courthouse from the back of the building. Throughout the tour, one can also witness what remains of the ancient Tlahuica and Aztec structures that were not destroyed after the Spanish Conquest.

On the second and third floor, there are open balconies with gorgeous views of downtown Cuernavaca at the front of the building and the view of Leyva street and the courthouse from the back of the building. Throughout the tour, one can also witness what remains of the ancient Tlahuica and Aztec structures that were not destroyed after the Spanish Conquest.

The City of Eternal Spring

These places are a must see if you get the chance to visit the city of Cuernavaca, a city that still maintains much of its small town features and rich history. Cuernavaca has so much more to offer, of course, such as its various festivals and gastronomy fairs, but those would have to be for future blog posts. In the mean time, don’t hesitate to check out some of the links below if you are interested in obtaining more information about visiting these places. You can also head over to the photo gallery to see more images.

links:

http://www.taxco-guerrero.com/personajes-taxco/borda.html

http://www.mexicodesconocido.com.mx/el-jardin-borda-morelos.html

http://www.mexicoescultura.com/recinto/52536/centro-cultural-jardin-borda.html

http://es.catholic.net/op/articulos/2376/cat/100/catedral-de-cuernavaca.html

http://www.morelosturistico.com/espanol/pagina/z_9_Catedral_de_Cuernavaca.php

http://sic.conaculta.gob.mx/ficha.php?table=museo&table_id=1044

http://www.mexicodesconocido.com.mx/museo-cuauhnauac-palacio-de-cortes-cuernavaca.html

http://www.altillo.com/universidades/mexico/de/municipio_morelos_cuernavaca.asp