On Machismo

26 Jan
Machismo, always there when you don't want it, never there when you do.

Machismo, always there when you don't want it, never there when you do.

Oh Machismo, the bane of my existence in Mexico.  Machismo is a complicated word, but I find it most commonly used to excuse all sorts of ridiculous behavior on behalf of men.  “No te preocupes, es solo el machismo,” they tell me, as if that somehow makes rampant sexism ok.  Most of the time down here I find myself playing the ardent feminist, trying to avoid slang words that I find inherently sexist, playing soccer with boys and surprising them with how good I am, complaining to every Mexican women I meet about how incredibly backwards their country is and how much work they have to do to move forward.  Yet I will admit that sometimes, just sometimes, I want a little Machismo.

Take, for example, today on the bus.  It was one of those impossibly crowded bus rides, stuffed to the gills with people desperately grabbing on to the bars that line the ceiling for support as we sped through traffic.  I happened to be carrying all my books from school and, to top it off, wearing heels.  Big mistake.  It’s times like these that a girl just wants the men to be gentleman, or caballeros as they say down here.  In most of the subways and buses I’ve ridden around the world, men tend to give up their seats to women.  Yet in Mexico, this never, ever happens.  Men rush to grab the first empty seat, pushing women who dare to get in their way, and then remain there even if a helpless old lady with a cane limps past them.  Seriously.

Part of me knows it is because the public transportation in Mexico City is more intense then anywhere else in the world- it’s crowded, it’s hot, and you’re usually going to be on there for a long time.  We’re all praying in sheer desperation that somebody will get off the bus so we can rest our weary legs and catch a quick nap, guarding the seats near us like hawks, watching for any indication that someone may be getting up soon.  Yet part of me just wants to be treated like a lady, for once.   Deep down inside, as much as I try to deny it, I just want the big, strong men to stand so us girls can sit down.  Is that so wrong?

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