Did you watch the video? Do it, then continue reading.
This video by Gloria Moran called "Boys will be Boys" popped up in my news feed and it got me thinking about my own family and experience as a Mexican American male in my thirties (holy smokes, I'm old.)
I remember many of my female friends growing up would tell me these types of stories. Ones where the males in the family had certain "privileges" that females didn't. When they got older, these girls were not allowed to hang out with friends late. In one girl's case, a broken curfew resulted in a trip to the clinic to make sure she had not lost her virginity (true story). Meanwhile, their brothers could come home at all hours of the night without much more than a remark from their mother that, "este no es un Hotel para que llegues a la hora que te de la fregada gana" ("this isn't a hotel where you can come in at whatever time you want"). It seemed very unfair to me.
My experience was different for many reasons. Even though I grew up in a Mexican household, I grew up as a male with two brothers and no sisters. My mom, being the only female in our household, made damn well sure I washed dishes, cleaned up, and even fed myself while she was away at work, which she did for many years even though my dad didn't approve. The way my mom saw it, she wanted to make her own money, and she pressed my dad until he gave in.
My dad's mentality was not so much "a woman's place is at home" as much as him believing that the cost of my mom working outweighed the benefits. When he came to the United States from Mexico, my dad saw how so many households where both parents were away at work, while the kids stayed home alone, almost always resulted in the kids getting into trouble, and in many cases, joined gangs. As he put it, he worked extra long hours because he did not want us kids to be home alone after school, to which my mom simply responded to by finding a night job at a factory making minimum wage.
Side note, at one point she also got a "work from home" gig, taking out loose threads on "SpaceJam" t-shirts and making us kids help her. She had her own little sweat shop going. My mom was (and still is) a BOSS.
I once asked my grandmother (my dad's mom, who still lives in Mexico) what she though about women in the United States leaving kids at home alone while they were away working. To be honest, I did not know exactly what to expect. She grew up in a very traditional Mexican household where males and females had very defined roles. I saw this first hand when I was sent to Mexico to work with my grandfather. The men worked the field, the women served the men. She also observes certain established “roles” that most Mexican parents (and especially grandparents) adhere to. She tells me almost every time I see her that, "se te va a pasar el tren" (you're going to miss the train), alluding that one should be married by my age. So when she responded that she understood why women nowadays have to work to make ends meet, I was somewhat surprised.
In her own way, she said that it's very difficult to make a living in the United States without both partners working. When I probed further, she told me that she grew up in a very different time. Big, self-sustaining families were the norm. She was responsible for the day to day administration of the household, which included housework as well as milking cows and making cheese, while my grandfather grew the food that fed the cows, chickens, and of course, the family. But when my grandfather fell ill and the survival of the family was a stake, it didn't matter if you were a man or woman, kid or teenager, you had to work in the fields. There were no gender roles observed there. The family, as she saw it, was a unit and everybody had to play a role. Those roles were defined by the needs of the family, not by gender.
I see a lot of unfair gender roles being challenged, which overall, I think is good. Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t think all “gender roles” are wrong. Breastfeeding a baby, for example…that I strongly believe should be left to females. Nothing sexist about it. It’s just what the family needs. I think.
Everything else should be agreed upon.
Hi, I'm Eddie G. I make videos on the internet (OMG,it's Eddie G!, Tiburcio). I also write my thoughts down in a blog from time to time. Don't forget to subscribe on YouTube (Red), follow on Facebook (Blue), and follow me on Snapchat (Yellow).
Love and Pan Dulce,