By Tyrone A. Moore
Life as a female Ramirez, was like most Hispanic’s household–the females did all the chores inside the house. That means no male’s participation was required at all. My father and brothers were completely exempt from doing any labor inside! Even if my bothers was not working, or if they were unemployed–they was still excused from doing household chores. That was just the old Mexican customs.
I always felt that it did more harm than good, because it made them lazy around the house–and disrespectful to women. I would hate to be their wife, because they will be treated like slaves–instead of being equal partners.
Mom made sure my sister and I knew how to manage a house. Still very old-fashion, she believed the men worked outside the home, and the women took care of the kids–and the home exclusively! Even if the man of the house couldn’t find work, he never had to attend to the kids, or help out with chores around the house. The main reason why my mother still washed my grandpa’s shirts, because she had made a promise to her mother before her mother died–that she would look after her padre (father), her la hermana (sister), and los hermanos (brothers).
Being only nine years old when her mother passed away, my mother took care of the whole household. She cooked and cleaned for everyone, all by herself too–like a housewife!
My grandmother never learned how read or write Spanish nor English. She only spoke Spanish, and was considered illiterate in all standards. But my mother was very smart for her age–she could speak both Spanish and English. She could also read, and write, both languages fluently, unlike her mother. My mother loved to read and write poetry. She picked up reading from her father (my grandfather), who was very intelligent–and he too loved to read. He knew a lot about different things.
Unfortunately, just as it was the culture for the Mexican people, grandpa did not think it was necessary for his wife to read or write–because she was not going to be working outside the house anyways. That was his mentality and all the men in the Latino community. The women had many babies, and were most of the time subjected to mental, physical, and verbal abuse, by their husbands. And although the Hispanic man is well known for being the sole provider for his family, he was not typically well known as being the compassionate, and loving type, to his family. Especially to his wife!
The boys in the family, versus the girls in the family, were allowed to do nothing inside the home–and were very much spoiled by their mothers–turning them into lazy around the house, and “Mama’s boys.” You’d think just because of that fact, that the Hispanic men would love, and adore women–because of being spoiled by their mother. But on the contrary, most of them disrespect and devalue women.
I believe, much of the abuse, and total disrespect, to their wives–and women in general–is due to the fact, to what I call…”The perfect wife syndrome.” Hispanic males expect their wives to be a clone, to their enabling mothers. If his wife doesn’t cook, clean, stay at home, tend to the kids–and take care of all his every need, –then she is not being a good wife, or a good mother for that matter. The abuse, and devaluing, also could come from his insecurities, and feeling threatened–that he would not be able to withstand on his own–if she did not take care of him!
He manipulates her by saying things like…”You are my esposa (my wife), you are suppose to stay home, take of me, the house–and the children–no matter what I do–or don’t do around here. As long as I provide for everyone, you shouldn’t complain about anything at all!” Just like his mother, his mother’s mother, and so on, and so on–it has been a tradition for many many generations–that the women cater to every need of the males in the house, especially her husband. That is just how it was. And you as a female, this was expected by you or else.
As the times were slowly changing, I felt this old wore out tradition needed to come to an abrupt halt!
Like myself, and many countless of other women; before, or after me–were the very victims of our circumstances. Our circumstances (old traditions) did not allow us the opportunity, to learn how to read, or write. The common right of a basic education was prohibited by the husband if he so chose to will his authority over her head. The “man of the house,” had the ultimate power over his wife, that eventually determined the outcome, of her life negatively. If anything ever happened to him, she would have no–way of providing for herself, or her children.
How would she be able to sustain, or provide for herself, and her children in the end? It would be a complete tragedy. Perhaps all she could do is go on welfare, take a minimum wage job–that doesn’t require an education, or experience. That could also mean, working two or three jobs just to make ends meet. These are her choices as a single parent.
I grew up in this kind of environment, so I know all too well how living with, and catering to the Latino man. Mom bless her heart, was no different than any other Latino woman with an old fashion mindset, where she catered to my father’s every need, and spoiled all my brothers literally–til the day she died!
My brothers or my father never had to lift a finger in the house. Mom ha me and my sister waiting on the men in the house hand and foot! My brother Samuel the oldest, was the first to leave home. My sister and myself had one less male in the house to clean up or cater to. I can not speak for my sister, but I was glad he left, because I hated doing all that cooking and cleaning around the house. Besides, Samuel was very mean to us–especially to me of course. He was the first to leave the house, and he was the very first one to come back home too!
Nothing much has changed in our home, except my mom ha two slaves for the price of one. My sister helped my mom cook and clean the kitchen. I was appointed to clean the restrooms and the living room. We (the females in the house) all joined forces to do the laundry every weekend. Mom was slowly showing me how to cook as well. Other than that, our home was peaceful since my Samuel had moved out of the house.
All that changed as soon as he walked back through the front door that he left not too long ago. Now he was older and meaner than before! He was now carrying a much bigger chip on his shoulders, because he was very upset due to his seperation from his wife. I immediately thought to myself…”Guess who his punching bag is going to be to release his anger, and frustrations on?” The answer is a resounding ME of course!