Some of the differences between U.S. culture (as I know it) and Mexican culture are obvious. The language, the music, and the clothing styles are distinct in either country. You are probably also aware of stereotypes, particularly related to Latin American men: they are either lazy or incredibly hard-working, they are womanizers/cheaters, they are liars, they are cute, they are romantic, they are dirty, or whatever.
Regardless of our perspective, when we find these stereotypes to ring true, we just accept them for what they are. We don’t usually go beyond that.
But let’s flip this for a moment and look at the average woman in current Mexican culture. What are her roles? What relationship does she have with the rest of society? What kind of male-female interactions and expectations form the society?
I’d like to focus on what seems to be the most prominent role for women as “fashionable sex symbol.” In Monterrey, you can see examples in popular culture just by cruising the streets or watching local TV. Scantily-clad women are gawked at and placed on a pedestal in all sorts of places, like:
- News (particularly weather segments)
- Family programming (for example, check out any of the characters on Multimedios programming, like: http://www.multimedios.tv/personajes/Jazmin. Shows like Acábatelo, which airs early evening, are full of demeaning moments. The same goes for a lot of Televisa shows)
- Late-night programming (justly targeting adult attention)
- Newspaper articles/ads
- Street advertisements for businesses
Even men with money/status who have multiple love affairs, or ladies on both arms are popular, attractive, and admirable, to the commonfolk. Think: Recta. Gross.
Palm to the forehead. This gets old very quickly.
It was frustrating when I was thrown into the scene. It is still frustrating now. Am I a prude because I believe that women can be more than self-obsessed, partner-obsessed, and outwardly pretty? You may say yes, but I say no. Now look… I am a fan of beauty, both external and internal. I was a bit of an ugly duckling in my teenage+ years, but I’ve come a long way since then (that’s another story altogether). I love researching fashion, trends, accessories, and all that jazz. But boasting solely the external beauty doesn’t cut it for me, and I don’t think it should cut it for any other adult/young adult/adolescent/child, either.
To me, beauty is any of my brainy friends who have studied their butts off. To me, beauty is that outstanding athlete with quads to die for and energy that doesn’t quit. To me, beauty is having attainable goals of curing cancer, treating patients, defending the defenseless, and motivating people to better themselves and their surroundings.
Sorry, Mayte Carranco, you don’t make that list. Not in my mind, anyway. Just waiting for you to prove me wrong.
I met a slew of great young women when studying at ITESM Campus Monterrey. Some of the most impressive of them were dedicated soccer players who also worked and studied at the best university in the country. There are so many wonderful Mexican women who have moved and shaken, but the majority still leave much to be desired…
There are some traditional gender roles I don’t mind hanging onto, but the need for “sexy”-everything can go out of style any day now. I’d like to leave some things for the imagination.
The men and women of the future — those who will be ruling our world, influencing others, and training the next generations — are our current little sons and daughers. They are in our hands, and we decide what we do with them. If you think you have nothing to do with this because you are a U.S. citizen, you are wrong. Look around and recognize that Mexico has overwhelmingly merged with the U.S., in spite of the border patrol and ridiculous immigration laws.
So to lift up the more positive roles of both men and women, let’s try a little harder, and let’s try together.