This article originally appeared in the February 2016 print edition.
By Evelin Garcia
Culture is a beautiful and dangerous thing, and it’s most often times recognized for its contemporary beauty and hardly clouded by its flaws. It is a multitude of traditions gathered by old generations setting the base for new generations to come. Such traditions play an important and valuable role in shaping all of our surrounding society. For that reason, there are some old customs that shouldn’t grow old with the rest of us. Customs that set society back and have no part in any lapse of our time.
As a Hispanic woman there are certain expectations that I am entitled to meet due to the gender I fall under. For a long time there have been assigned roles for both genders in the Hispanic culture. Women are expected to do all of the house labor and attend to the men in the house, while men are to have a rock solid heart unable to express pain and much less fear. These cultural traditions have an undermining attitude towards women, and unrealistic expectations for men to be immune of their own feelings.
Being part of the Hispanic culture is a colorful and noisy world, but it can quickly turn into a windowless and colorless room for women. As a woman belonging to the Hispanic culture I have experienced and witnessed some of the grey shadings pertaining to this colorful culture. To start off, women are taught from a young age to go to the kitchen and help their mom, while the boys stay put on the couch watching t.v. with their dad. Though this could come off as practically harmless, the message between this action is tremendously crucial to the treatment the little girl will receive from her brother and the treatment this little boy will give to the future women in his life. With this, a harmful chain begins, women are to attend to their fathers and their brothers without complain. It is an unfair and undermining treatment to women because they are treated more like maids and less like loved ones. The responsibilities in the home should be equally divided in the family without taking in account the gender. Inflicting a type of behavior with a gender is unreasonable and cruel for everyone involved.
Men are also victims of cultural traditions. Men are expected to reject their human nature and repel the existence of any feelings related to weakness. They are seen as the head of the household with the responsibility to lock their feelings away in the furthest and darkest room of their heart. From a young age Hispanic men are told to hold their tears and are punished when they do otherwise. Inflicting punishment to hide the human nature is beyond belief and also a cruel way of living. No human should have to deny themselves to the nature that is calling them. There are no rules and no set guidelines to follow in order to fulfil the role of a gender.
Culture is important to understand the past, but there will be times when understanding the past will mean to change the future. It means one learns from mistakes made in the past and is willing to walk around it instead of walking into it again. The society I see around me is stubborn to give women and men their power to break free from the chains locked into their hands and legs and have them walk free from expectation. Tradition shouldn’t be something that causes pain or promotes inequality. Instead it should represent the best part our ancestors and not the worse.