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 separation 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! He would take most of his frustrations all on me when he moved back into the house.
It was now 1964, mom was 46 year old, dad was 56 year old–Samuel was twenty-seven, Jesus was twenty-five, Rosita fifteen, myself twelve, and my little brother Johnathan was seven. Samuel, Jesus, and my dad all worked at the mining company. My two brothers worked swing-shift, while my dad was the only one to work day-shift. Samuel operated the giant caterpillar, a bulldozer the size of a house, that removed the dirt from the massive pit! Jesus worked on all the equipment as the company’s diesel mechanic, and dad was a supervisor for the mine’s water department.
My dad was a skinny man, but he had very strong hands and arms. He could twist an apple in half with his bare hands! His hands were made strong from tighten and un-tighten water pipes with huge wrenches. A lot of the times when it snowed, the pipes would freeze up, making it almost impossible to keep the water flowing.
Dad got home from work around 4:30 pm everyday, and dinner was served at 5:00 pm on the dot. Mom could not have dinner before five, or after five. If she did not have dinner ready precisely at 5:00 pm, my dad would give my mother a beating! At least that’s how it was, before my brother Jesus moved back into the house, from the Army. And now my our older brother Samuel was back home also. Dad dare not touch our mother while her grown son’s were in the house. They were both husky men. I don’t think ad had a chance with either of them, even one on one.
Now that Samuel was back home, my sister and myself, cooked an clean for all three men in the house. When we got home from school, mom made us clean up after them. Saturdays was laundry day. My sister and I folded all the clothes, after mom pulled them off the clothes line. All the underwear and socks went inside the drawers, but everything else got ironed. We ironed pillow cases, dish towels, table clothes–shirts–blouses–pants–skirts, and dresses.
Mom embroidery all the pillow cases, curtains, table clothes, and some towels. She did not like just plain old linens. Sewing was another thing we had to learn how to do. Because “it was women’s job to clean the house, and make it pretty.” Mom would say. In fact, I was six or seven when I learned how to sew. I even had my own little embroidery kit too.
We did so much sewing, cooking, and cleaning–that we hardly gotten a chance to go outside to play. And when I did got a chance to play, I took full advantage of that time. Many of such evenings, myself, and my best friend Cassandra–loved to dance in our living room. As long as my brothers were at work, we pretty much had the house to ourselves–while mom and dad was talking or something.
Most of the time Cassandra, and I, practiced the latest dance steps–like “The Twist,” a popular dance craze at the time–that hit the nation in the early sixties. Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, The Supreme, and The Beetles, were some of my favorites at the time.
My friend Cassandra, was a Caucasian girl with very rubia (blonde) hair. She was cute, and short, and kind of chunky. So chunky, that when I first brought her over to my house, my mother thought she was so cute–she bit her! Mom loved kids, but if she thought you were cute, she would bite you on the legs, or the cheeks. The problem with mom is she got carried away with showing affection. She would never leave any teeth marks on you, just a little love bite or two.
She would bite me on the legs, she said because my legs were kin of cute and chubby. The look on Cassandra’s face the first time my mom bit her, was like…”Help me, please make her stop!” Or “is your mom insane or something?” I would be just laughing and hope, that Cassandra did not get too scared out of her mind, and think that we were so weird–that she would never play with me again–or come over to our house to visit.
Mom didn’t attack her anymore after that, so I guess she felt it was safe to come back over. Cassandra also would practice the dance called “The Jerk,” and a dance called “The Swim.” Like swimming, the dance consisted of swigging your arms backwards, as if you were doing the backstroke–and “The Jerk,” you threw your body and arms slightly forward in a jerking motion.
Some other popular groups we use to listen to was “The Doors,” a group everyone called “The Dirty Old Doors,” because the lead singer would come on stage and pull down his pants–and started masturbating during in Utah. Everyone was in shock! The community leaders which were mostly Mormons, banned the group from ever performing in the state of Utah indefinitely. And that was after the lead singer was arrested.
Obviously he was on drugs or something. In the sixties everyone was starting to get on some form of drugs. It was the new thing now. It’s probably why all these new Rock N Roll Bands was acting super weird–like going around being obnoxious–eyes red from being high on marijuana, or some other strange behavior.
The guitar players of “The Dirty Old Door’s” would completely destroy their own equipment on stage, and the audience loved it! I guess the audience was on drugs also. Another one of my favorite singers was Donovan Phillip Leitch, looking and sounding like Bob Dylan, Donovan was born May 10, 1946–Glasgow, Scotland, (part of the British Invasion) and emerged in 1965–as a folksinger with “Catch the Wind.”
He helped to define the era to the hippie lifestyle such as “Sunshine Superman” (1966), “Mellow Yellow” (1967), and “Hurdy Gurdy Man” (1968). His obscure lyrics, often laced with drug references, were sung in a soft and sometimes soulful voice over melodies influenced by folk, blues, jazz, ans Indian music.
In the 1970s Donovan recorded several film sound tracks an continued to release albums sporadically into the 21 century. Me and Cassandra danced crazy and as goofy as we could to emulate our favorite bands at the time. We had fun as mom made tortillas and dad was sitting in his favorite chair in the living room. With his chin resting on the palm of his hand, he tried to close his eyes and rest–pretending not to be interested in our crazy dancing.
My little brother was darting from room, to room, like he had drank a whole pot of coffee. We had to stop, and escort him out of the living room from time to time. It seemed the more crazy we got, the more my little brother Johnathan did. So we would send him outside to play with his friend to get out of our hair.
Cassandra would come over after dinner and we’d dance about an hour. Then afterwards she’d go home.
When my brothers got home from work, they were usually very muy hanbriento (very hungry). My sister had to get up and fox them something to eat, even if she was sleep, but most of the time she was up doing her homework anyway. Preparing meals like dinner food, or breakfast, it didn’t matter–what ever they felt like is what she cooked. If it was the weekend around 2 am, they would come home from being out drinking all night, and wake her up to cook them something to eat.
At least I didn’t have to do that yet! I’d be sleep and heard them in the kitchen talking loud. Samuel the oldest was always the drunkest, and the loudest–he would be drunk as a skunk. Usually falling and breaking stuff. Mom would wake up and argue with him.
This went on as long as he stayed in the house again. He did not have any respect for mom, or any of us, but one thing was for sure–mom was not going to kick any of her sons out on the street. Of my brothers, Samuel was the mean one.
I remember when my sister was sixteen years old when he kicked her in the arm pit, because one morning she grabbed the last banana that was left. Holding on to it with a tight grip, she would not let go of it–as she fell to the ground. My brother still was not done with her. I was there and I could not believe what happened next.
Just like you would get mad at a dog, he rared back his right foot, and kicked her right underneath her arm so hard–the next year my sister had developed a tumor on her arm pit–where he had kicked her. My sister did not tell our mom, or dad, and neither did I–for fear that Samuel would ambush us in retaliation–if our parents was not around.
He was very vindictive like that–so we dare not say anything. There were many things that happened to us by the hands of our oldest brother Samuel, that mom, and dad, did not know about. When Samuel first move out seven years ago, he was twenty years old–and I was only five. It was so very peaceful in the house during his absent, except when mom and dad fought.
Again, as soon as our brother Jesus moved back into the house after serving in Vietnam, my dad at least stopped putting his hands on mom. Before Jesus moved back in the house, I remember our parents got into an argument over some financial matter, it had suddenly ended as quickly as it started–when dad grabbed mom’s nipples and twisted them so hard–that they retracted back inwardly.
He did that to mom all the frequently, but never to the point of injury, that he had caused her this time. She endured a lot of abuse, for the sake of being a good mother, and wife. Our dad beat our mother quite often, he had been unfaithful to her, was verbally abusive, and treated mom like his personal slave. All mostly due to his insecurities, fear of losing mom, and his guilty conscious.
My dad was the kind of man that did not have the ability to express, or any emotions, other than hate. Apparently his father treated his mother the same way. Mother was physically abused by her father as well. My grandfather did not abuse my grandmother, but he was to my mother as a child.
So I guess it was no wonder the vicious cycle continued with my mother, then later with me–that carried through to our family for generations.
My brother Samuel was married to his first wife for seven years. He abused her for most of that time too. The same highly infectious disease, effectively, spread through our family like a wildfire, that seek to destroy everything in its path, especially for the women. The kind of disease that has caused massive and total destruction of so many families!
Abuse behind closed doors, has been kindly woven into the fabric of households for thousand of years. No one bothered to intervene in the past, because it was dubbed a “Household Issue.” Society just ignored family disturbances, as to not meddle in another man’s problems–it was not polite. The law rarely arrested men for committing physical abuse to anyone in his household, particularly, in the minority community.
Prior to the mid-1800s, most legal systems implicitly accepted wife beating as a valid exercise of a husband’s authority over his wife. (en.m.wikipedia.org)
There was no such thing as “domestic violence” in those days, they were known only as “Family Disturbances.” Which meant, if a police officer were called to your home regarding a “Family Disturbance,” rarely anyone got arrested, even if the woman had visible signs of physical abuse, or bleeding badly from cuts.
Majority of the time, women in those days, usually did not pressed charges on their partners–or husbands–even when asked by officers. Speaking for my culture only, women just didn’t do that sort of thing, mainly because, it would mean that she was being disloyal to here husband. And obviously for fear of her life and safety. Latino women were taught that if you married a man, you excepted everything that he ditched out, even if it meant taking all his blows–that was her obligation!
So if the police tried to help her, she would regrettably declined, because her culture binds her–to it’s code of conduct. Besides, she was utterly terrified of the retaliation, that she would have to endure by the hands of the one who swore an oath to cherish, adore, love, honor, an to protect her, til death do them part.
Intimidation, was his choice of weapons, to completely dominate and control her. These Latina women were victimized by their partner’s severe beatings, and control, which made them petrified of him–and their husbands knew it–to the point of him being cocky about it. Like when a police officer respond to a home called in as a family disturbance, the man that should have been arrested, could be seen lying the couch watching TV–like nothing has happened–drinking a cold one!
He was very confident that she wasn’t going to press any charges against him, or if the responding police officers knew the area, and the address belonged to a Hispanic family, they never would even show up. This was Anchorage Alaska–at the time it was known to be highly prejudice state. They hated the Latino community, and never excepted them when they first migrated in the 1800s, from Mexico.
This is why my grandfather til this day he hated the white man. In those days, God bless any Hispanics caught alone anywhere in Alaska–he would either be beating to nearly death, or on many occasion to death! So it be wise for the Mexicans to always stay very close to their community, and because they did, everyone knew each other and stayed out of one another’s business.
My brother’s wife Pat, was only fifteen years when they got married. Pat was a thin, and pretty, Irish girl with red shoulder length hair. My brother Samuel somehow attracted pretty women, and all of them loved him a lot. You see, most Latino men are very charming in the beginning. They really know how to be romantic and stuff. Samuel was known to have “it,” whatever that was. He could be nice when he wanted to, and the girls thought he was handsome too.
Like all the other Latino men, they used their charms to lure these defenseless and naive females into their lives. Once trapped in his world, all hell break loose! I’m pretty sure Pat, and Samuel, started out being in love like most couples do.
That all changed once they had their first child together. He started drinking heavily and beating on her. I began babysitting, or rather looking after my nephew, Johnny their son.
Little Johnny was only one year old, and I was eight. I enjoyed playing with him a lot, and looked forward to the weekends, when his parents would pick me up on Saturday.
I’d stay overnight until Domingo (Sunday) night, then they’d drop me off at home. 🏠 When spending the night, I always slept on their couch. I could hear them arguing at night sometimes.
Although Pat was a thin and pale girl, she stood up to my brother. One day I witnessed him slapping her in the face. “I’ll kill you if ever slap me in the face like that again!” Pat warned my brother holding her face where he slapped her, as she stood over him holding her sore cheek.
In a bit of obvious rage, Pat stormed into her bedroom leaving everyone in the living room. “Don’t say anything to mom,” Samuel said to me.
I tried not to acknowledge him, as I was holding back my tongue from how dirty he was for hitting her like that. He would have killed me if he knew what I was thinking.
So just kept my attention on holding onto little Johnny. Funny, most physical abusive men want to have sex after abusing their wives. The pure adrenaline arouse his male sexual hormones naturally.
The process of blood rushing through his body, set off a chemical imbalance, in his sexual organs–and brain. That is why I think physical abuse is a sickness that has to be treated as a disease, because it is!
Most men who are abusive once, more than likely, will repeat the offense again. And once he realizes, that he can make her succumb, and cooperate, through brute force–it will be his way to control her–and he knows there are no other tactics, that he needs, to lord his authority–over her from then on.
Intimidation, domination, and manipulation, is his weapon against her. To him, she is the weaker sex. He doesn’t see his abuse is as wrong or loving her less. In fact, he feels he is showing her how much he loves her, in some sick way. And nine times out of ten, the victim will surrender to his sick desire, to have sex with him–after a beating.
A very vicious cycle that repeats itself time and time again. The sad part about this, is the children are the ones who suffers as well. Statistics shows that children who grows up in an environment where abuse is present; one, they either grow up to do the same act of violence. Two, the female excepts this behavior from her mate as natural. Or three, the child grows up, being more acceptable to taking drugs–and wind up being incarcerated–as a way of life.
Also, the likelihood of a child that grows up around abuse, usually don’t excel in school, or drops out altogether! I am not claiming to be an expert on the subject, but I am speaking on my personal experience growing up in a physical, verbal, and mental abusive home. My brother Samuel was definitely contaminated with this decease, passed down from our father, and our father,s father, and so on. So goes again, this vicious cycle, that has plagued families across the world for centuries.
- End of Season 2 Episode #3 (FINALLY!!)
I will continue writing the next episode, Season 3 Episode #1.
Thank you for joining us, and please feel free, to leave a nice reply–or comment below!
Tyrone A Moore