My mom grew up in a culture that valued males more than females and as a result there was a definite double standard in our household. My two brothers never, ever did anything domestic around the house. I, on the other hand, did the “girl type” chores. I never remember my brothers playing anything but cowboys and indians and climbing trees. Besides the typical sports and matchbox cars, my boys played Barbies and Pretty, Pretty Princess with my daughter and fought over who’d get to wear the pink beaded jewelry. Aside from an occasional Barbie beheading, they genuinely played with the dolls and so-called girl games. I remember my brothers, however, popping the heads off all of my dolls and laughing while I sat and cried. I don’t remember if my mom nixed the girl play or it was just what my brothers thought was expected of them.
I made sure that my sons did as much housework and chores as their sister did. They did their own laundry and helped around the house. I couldn’t imagine my mom expecting that of her sons. I was determined not to play the same gender games with my children. Determined to stop the madness of labeling children according to their sex, I decided that I’d put an end to the gender bias that is so prevalent in hispanic culture. No way would I be the subservient female who’s sole purpose was to cook, clean and cater to her man. I had a responsibility to my daughter and my sons to set a more Americanized example for them.
Fortunately, today many Mexican-Americans are also becoming more Americanized in their thinking. Traditional roles of the male as dominant and the woman as passive and subordinate are changing and falling away. But sadly, many cultures still do not value women in their society. Males in some countries would rather hack off their own testicles before accepting women as their equals. We, as American women, still struggle to be treated as well as men in society, but fortunately we are far ahead in our thinking than many other cultures.