Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Treatment of women in El Salvador

Worth reading today is the post by blogger Maggie titled Fear and Ignorance in El Salvador (and how the women won't have it). It starts out like this:

The first thing people will tell you about the gender dynamics in El Salvador is that there is a lot of machismo. But it’s not always obvious and definitely manifests itself in a variety of ways, some fairly harmless, others extremely harmful. The ways in which Salvadoran women deal with this macho, patriarical culture is quite admirable.

So there are definitely degrees and types of machismo here. You find patterns in attitudes and personalities of the men here. Of course there’s grey area and contradictions, but I would say the two most obvious are: The Hero and The Womanizer. There are also a few Total F...ing Mysogynists.

The Hero is overwhelmingly courteous and hospitable. He wants to drive you everywhere or at least guards you while you ride the bus together. He opens doors and always gets the bill. He wants to teach you things: Spanish, how to dance, where to go in the city, philosophy, indigo dyeing....

Read about the other personality types, and the strength of Salvadoran women in the rest of the post here.


El-Visitador said...

Bah humbug!

These behaviors are cultural and exist because of both sexes. Men would not act like so unless there were Salvadorean women willing to tolerate it.

How many times have I seen all kinds of women fall for the most obvious ruffians?

With the perspective of time, I've concluded that these women were actively seeking a controlling/micro-managing "Hero" bastard, or a philandering "Womanizer" who made them (for a fleeting minute) the envy of their friends (until he seduced one them), or simply an antisocial "Total F'n Misogynist" who seemed protective for as long as the courtship lasted, but who in reality was only good for beating her (in a physical way) and not for beating her enemies (in a metaphorical way).

With regard to motherly devotion... very iffy. Superficially, maybe a bit, when compared to other societies. But far from real devotion. More like a relationship that remains useful (for the son): a cook, an ATM, a nanny for the kids, a hangover pad. After all, Salvadorean sons know their mothers (for some bizarre reason) will always tolerate their vices.

Remember: Salvadorean mothers always claim their son is pure and perfect as a sunrise beach, even after their son is arrested for being a mafioso kidnapper.

- * -

Sure, many women, especially in the middle and higher classes, love to complain about these "grotesque"(their word) male archetypes.

Shortly thereafter, you see them marrying the exact type, only, whithin their own caste. The end result is the same. They get micro-managed or jealoused to death, philandered-on, beaten, or worse.

It is cultural, and as much the fault of men as of women.

There are exceptions: ocassionally, you see good men marrying good women. But I'd say it is relatively rare.

Anonymous said...

Not only are you proponent of free market neoliberalism as many of your posts have shown, you’re also a misogynist apologist for the patriarchal behavior of men towards women and their attempts to use sexual violence to control and abuse them.

Anonymous said...

The problem goes back to the fact that El Salvador is a "Catholic" country. The Catholic church teaches that women are second class and cannot handle the responsibilities of everday life. Girls are treated like slaves by their families, while boys are encouraged to play and are allowed to get away with anything. The Catholic church will not give full equal rights to women and this idea has polluted the social environment.

Lidieth Arevalo said...

I agree with the last Anonymous.. although I think things are changing and sooner than we think, we're gonna see total equality between men and women..

Poeta Guerrillera said...

When foreign women arrive in El Salvador it is quite easy to be swept off your feet. The people are warm and friendly, men are often quite persuasive and even perhaps gallant in their initial behavior.

It is very important to realize that a foreign woman is like a new car. You are a status symbol. You can be shown around. You may possibly have higher socioeconomic status, and let us not even speak of the value of blond hair or blue eyes or an american passport. The family may be thrilled.

However new cars get old, and then eventually people trade them in. And nowhere more than El Salvador are women discarded so enthusiastically. Remember careers in El Salvador depend on social connections, and a foreign woman is unlikely to have social connections. Your loving boyfriend turned spouse may find it socially expedient to take a younger wife with better social connections at the first sign of wrinkles. This is especially true for the middle class. There is no greater status symbol for a man of power than to have a girlfriend who could as easily be his daughter. This is easily accomplished as unemployment rates are sky high and a man with a job that pays is considered a prize. The fact that he is already married with children is an irrelevant detail, as long as he is willing to abandon them.

One of the most frightening things about Salvadoran society is how little attachment men feel for their children. Once he has found a newer younger partner it is as if the children from the previous partnership no longer exist. They are inconvenient. He may simply disappear. Teenage children may be especially traumatized by the rejection from their heretofore extended family.

In laws may avoid their nieces and nephews from the abandoned spouse, and go so far as to pass them on the street without acknowledging them.

It is important not to be naive. These are not predominantly social patterns among poor country people. These practices are seen largely among the middle class.