The stereotypical macho man is what some Latino men are known for, the kind of men that are strong and can have as many women as they want. The power of the male gender that has been established for so long, has devalued the female gender over centuries. This problem is seen all around the world, but Latin America has been a place where women's rights of equality are constantly declining. Women are seen as objects that belong to men, of course this is not happening everywhere, but power has been granted to men almost all the time. This problem is seen in Junot Diaz' The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao where some men with power or looks can do whatever they want to women, like Yunior or Trujillo becoming the stereotypical Dominican men. But there are exceptions to this kind of stereotype, in this case Oscar, the fat and nerd main character. My research will not only focus on the problem of gender inequality in the Dominican Republic, but will explore women and men in the Latino society; as well as how women are seen in the country that I come from.
The stereotype of a cheater is well known in the Latino community, where men see women as their belongings. Junot Diaz introduces interesting male characters in his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which many of them are fictional except for Rafael Trujillo, each one of these individuals represent the Dominican male. Interesting enough the main character, Oscar is not portrayed that way, but rather as a man that cannot be loved by any women because of his overweight figure and his nerd lifestyle. Diaz describes Oscar as a dreamer that gives up easily, "Had dreams that he was wandering around the evil planet Gordo, searching for parts for his crashed rocketship, but all he encountered were burned-out ruins, each seething with the new debilitating forms of radiation. I don't know what's wrong with me, he said to his sister over the phone. I think the word is crisis but every time I open my eyes all I see is meltdown" (268). We can see how he has tried to escape from his problems by dreaming of a broken ship that would take him away from planet Gordo (which is fat in Spanish). But he can't escape because he does not see the problem as something simple, but something that has escalated to a point where there is no solution. On the other hand we have Yunior, Oscar's counterpart. He is known for his strength and luck with women. In one part of the novel, Yunior lets the reader know what kind of person he is by saying, "Knew exactly what kind of sucio I was. Two days after we broke up saw me hitting on one of her line-sisters and turned her long back to me" (Diaz 169). Yunior is represented as the true Dominican man, in which he did not care about breaking up with Oscar's sister, and moving on to a new relationship in less than two days. He also uses the word “sucio” which translates to dirty in Spanish, meaning he has been using women for a long time without a care. Yunior represents the man that does not value women, but rather sees them as objects to satisfy his sexual desires.
But where does this "macho" stereotype come from? In Oscar and Yunior's case it could be said that it comes from Rafael Trujillo's dictatorship. The years of terror that the Dominican people have suffered and many have not recovered from. Diaz represents Trujillo as a man with a strong libido, using his power to get as many women as he wanted. It could be said that his example of power over women led other men to think that is right to see the female gender as a weak object. Diaz describes Trujillo's actions by writing, "Acted like he owned everything and everyone, killed whomever he wanted to kill, sons, brothers, fathers, mothers, took women away from their husbands on their wedding nights and then would brag publicly about "the great honeymoon" he'd had the night before" (225). Trujillo had no morality when it came to govern the Dominican Republic; he used his power to make it his own playground. This dictator would kill anyone anytime and would take women away even if they were married already. These actions might have gotten inside the Dominican people who followed Trujillo: men treating women as objects and not as humans.
Many women have fought for their rights to be equal to men. While inequality changes from country to country; many of those countries have put women on a lower level. Many women are trying to get the same rights that men have in society, like equal payment or protection against domestic violence. The author of The Emerge of Indigenous Feminism In Latin America explains what women want from the Latino society by stating, "These include the right to political participation and to hold leadership posts within the political system, to a life free of sexual and domestic violence, to decide how many children they want to have, to a fair wage, to choose a spouse, to an education, and to quality health services" (Hernandez 542). This fight for equality has put women to look for a voice to represent them, to give them value in this macho society. Many of those rights have been violated by men; there still are places where domestic violence, raping, and discrimination against women exists. But there are groups that are fighting against this injustice towards females, such as the Indigenous Women’s Continental Alliance; and groups like this one will fight more until there is equality between genders.
Colombia, the country where I come from also faces the issue of gender inequality. The domestic violence is strong and increasing, and representation for women is not as strong as in other countries. The author of Non-traditional Agricultural Export Industries: Condition for Women in Colombia and Peru states, "Even though the majority of workers in the asparagus fields and rose greenhouse are women, it is the men who are able to earn promotions to supervisory levels, and thus increase their wages. Gender discrimination and low education levels among women workers keep them from advancing in the hierarchy, even after gaining decades of experience" (Ferm 13). Colombian society is not that much different from the Dominican society in which men are in power, and only men can advance to high position within a company. Of course, women with no education have no knowledge about the rights they have, and because of this men are more likely to get away with this discrimination. Ferm also states that, "Matternity-base discrimination is also common; women workers regularly find that they are unable to find or keep a job when they become pregnant, despite existing national laws protecting maternity leave" (13). Once a woman becomes pregnant her chances of maintaining a job becomes harder. For women pregnancy is a hard time in their lives, since they won't be able to work and because of this many companies see them as useless objects and would rather get rid of them and find a new worker.
As a conclusion the war between genders has been ongoing for many years, it is possible that this battle can reach an end once people start caring for those who are being belittled by those in power. Women are portrayed to be weak individuals but they are the strongest by giving life, and they must be considered as important as any man in history. Women have to be treated equally, for a society to move forward. Equality is the word many Latin American women are looking for, and equality is what everyone should get.
Díaz, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. New York: Riverhead, 2007. Print.
Ferm, Nora. "Non-Traditional Agricultural Export Industries: Conditions for Women Workers in Colombia and Peru." Gender and Development 16.1 (2008): 13-26. Print.
Hernandez, R. Aída. "The Emergence of Indigenous Feminism in Latin America." Sign 35.3 (2010): 539-45. Print.