I learned the other night what my boyfriend´s father, Audel, thinks of machismo.
I met Audel in Durham, North Carolina, and we got along fine. He was fairly quiet, and when the three of us went out he gave Ale and I our space. He never told me what to do, and always offered me food or drink at his apartment. But since we´ve arrived in Mexico, I´ve seen another side of him. A side I believe is more macho.
Maybe it´s because we´ve arrived here, or maybe it´s a side I never say with him in Durham because there plain weren´t any woman around.
The meaning of machismo finally came up over a delicious meal that Ale´s mother, Alicia, cooked for us. I would have brought it up earlier, but seeing as I am living in their house, and they are feeding me everyday, it didn´t seem appropriate.
Machismo in Mexico, in Audel´s words more or less, has improved. The macho man in his words is a man who doesn´t care about his wife. He doesn´t care that she becomes pregnant, doesn´t provide for her, keeps his money for himself, and he leaves his children for whoever ends up caring for them. And he beats his wife and cheats on her. Pretty horribly macho.
According to Audel, this is the macho Mexican. Most men aren´t like this anymore, but there are still some Mexicans who are this extreme macho. Traditionally in Mexico the man of the family works, and the woman stays home and cleans, cooks, and takes care of the children. To Audel, men and women have their roles in life, and this is not machismo. Now many more woman than before enter schools and finish their education, and he thinks this is good. Now many young men like Alejandro consider themselves bisexual. Many men wear pink and purple, one of Ale´s friends offered me hand cream and chapstick. I asked Audel if it would it be acceptable if the woman worked and the man stayed at home, and he said yes. He also said it would be acceptable if both parents worked that both parents would share the cleaning and cooking and caring.
Later I asked Alicia if Audel has ever done the laundry out of his own will. He never has.
I believe an unmacho man would. He would also cook a meal when he could, or wash the dishes. Audel´s mannerisms are macho. He talks to me as if I don´t know anything, as if I´m a little girl. I feel like I have to prove that I am a knowledgeable person because he thinks I know nothing. But he also asks me questions and is interested in what I say.
El Hombre Mexicano is macho by default, unconsciously. In my opinion, on the day that Audel does the laundry without anyone asking him he will overrull the macho identification that he expels from his very self. But I´m not going to ask him to do the laundry, and I doubt Alicia will