Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gender Relations Part I: Em Casa

Gender relations are... complicated as so many things. but I will incorporate different people's observations as well.
As a woman in Bahia gender relations can't really go unnoticed as all of my female peers don't go a day walking down the street without being hit on or cat-called, or blown kisses at. I'll post something on just that, and I'll title it... "Oi Linda".

But yeah many of my friends and I still get very frustrated and feel extremely uncomfortable but apart from that and the gender inequality in the work place and apparent patriarchy found in all sectors of almost all societies. I observe the dynamics within my family.

My mother and father: A minha mãe takes a lot of pride in her position as mother. She used to be a secretary but is now semi-retired, to be a host-mother for this program. She spends most of the day in the house and looks over the aesthetics of the home while my host father doesn’t really. A minha mãe likes to go shopping, likes to wear dresses and look pretty.
My host father, owns this little business and works 6 days a week. He usually comes home and takes off his shirt almost immediately once he enters the house and is just around in his shorts the rest of the day and his days off. He is not very talkative with anyone, minha mãe is extremely talkative with everyone. I think meu pai has a shorter temper than minha mãe. And although my mother is now more of a housewife than anything and has a lot of traditionally feminine qualities, I don’t consider her submissive in any way. She is very much a part of the decision-making process of the home and other issues pertaining to the family. Both minah mae and meu pai are very opinionated, so it’s not to say that one is dominant or whatever.
During the week my mãe is in charge of the kitchen and usually washes dishes when Fernanda isn’t there. On Sunday meu pai usually does the cooking and my sisters help, but even during the week sometimes minha mãe will just be like “oh I’m so tired/my back/head hurts can you take care of all of this" [referring to the kitchen] and he’ll do it whether it’s making dinner or cleaning up the kitchen. It’s really great that they can take turns like that. And one time minha mae said to me “To me, it was always very important to get married to my job first, and then my husband”.
over all I think they both contribute a lot and I’ve never heard any talk about a woman’s job or man’ job like I hear many of my older Mexican family members. I also feel like they’re raising some empowered women by not limiting their existence to a single…chore. They really emphasize the importance of my sisters' education and getting a good career. My older sister is going to the university to become an engineer, and my younger sister is thinking of going into psychology.

My sister and her namorado: they also have a very interesting dynamic, I think it’s fun to watch them. The Namorado, Carlos* is totally into coming to our house and surprising my sister while she’s studying, and doing all these little things: bringing her flowers and constantly being physically affectionate, while my sister is just like “ew, okay that’s enough” or “you dork”. And she's not into doing any of that back.
She’s always teasing him like one time that Carlos was over and he offered to help replace the water gallon thing for drinking, and when he was done he had the jug over his head “ should I put this down?” my sister super sarcastic “noooo, it’s meant to stay on your head, smart one”. I don’t know but she’s very strong and physically kind of big. She works in construction and drives to school and work. She, unlike her mom, never wears dresses; she doesn’t like to. She pretty much lives in shorts except for when she’s at work: pants and big construction boots. She doesn’t wear make-up or much jewelry. She is also very opinionated, and loud about it, and possibly has the temper of her dad.

My younger sister: is kind of quiet, she is the one to whom minha mãe goes for comfort. She’s always so sweet and polite with me. She’s sooo patient, it’s amazing. Like her computer’s charger is broken and her dad told her to take out the battery when it’s plugged in to the electric outlet so as to not overuse the battery, but if the cord doesn’t stay at a certain angle, then the computer just turns off right? So I was there because we only have the internet line in my room, and it turned off on her in the middle of her homework like 4 times and she just handled it with such a calmness, that just amazed me. But yeah she’s extremely sweet and kind of shy, very smart, and responsible. She’ll do a lot of the going to pay the phone bills when it’s required to go the mall or some other place. She's currently learning how to drive and is studying hard for the vestibular--kind of like the SATs to get into a public university which is the top of education in Brazil and FREE! yeah. come on California, come on U.S.

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