to South America and beyond

9.26.2006

Feminism in Latin America

I need to rant for a moment about the state of male/female roles in South America (I´m sure some of you saw this coming). Back to more light-hearted topics in my next entry, I promise.

For the aspiring radical feminist in me, South America can be a terrible place. In two words, machismo sucks. This macho attitude that many of the men have (to be fair, it´s not all of them) eminates from them like a stench. You know they have never in their lives experienced the degradation they are inflicting on the women of their culture. My heart aches and my blood boils just thinking about what I´ve experience just in this short time, and even more when I think that the women here have to endure it on a daily basis. If I hear one more whistle, "tss tss", "reina (queen)" or variant, or endure one more unashamed, 10-minute stare, something in me will snap. Imagine if a man walking down the street to do some mundane chore of daily life had to listen to constant cat-calls and be subject to lengthy, leering stares from dozens of women along the way? Sounds ridiculous, right? Then why is it okay when we only reverse the genders?!

I´m slightly comforted by the fact that tourists seem to experience the worst treatment and the local women aren´t harassed nearly as much, but it doesn´t make it right. No woman, no PERSON should be treated this way. Ever. I want to take the women away from here, if only for a day, to experience a place where they are viewed completely as equals and not subject to this constant harassment, but I wonder, where would I take them? The U.S. certainly appears better on the surface, but we still have a long way to go to erase attitudes not even a half-century old about a woman´s place in society. I´ve become accustomed to the objectification and male baises that exist in our own society, just as I imagine they´ve become accustomed to it here, so is it really any better?

It´s sad to think that this problem is only the most visible part of what is a larger women´s rights issue including all the usual suspects - unequal access to education, employment inequality, domestic violence, etc. Of course, this is not the worst women´s rights issue in the world (at least Latinas can go to school and don´t have to cover their entire bodies when they go out in public), but it disgusts me even still. And as a tourist, especially a solo one, I can do nothing to fix it. Even angry responses would likely invite laughter and more attention. For now, I´ll leave the work to activist groups (like those that organize the Latin American and Caribbean Feminist Encuentros) and I´ll have to settle for observation and mounting rage.

3 Comments:

Blogger KIM said...

YEAH! Rachelle! I know how you feel. Sorry about the disrespect you have to go through. Your right about an angry response would just make more wrong attention.
I like reading your writing it is like reading an editorial.
Love, Mom

6:42 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey there, sorry to hear you are feeling so frustrated, but hope you are not letting this get too much in the way of having a fabulous time. :) We had our first official leisure as second years last night, and you were very missed! Even Jamie showed up. :) Hope you are having fun. Miss you!!!!

-Josie

9:50 AM

 
Blogger JMC said...

we missed you this weekend!

3:27 PM

 

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