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Opinion: Gender inequality in Latino households

Think about a household, a family, a husband and a wife. The laundry, cooking, cleaning, who do you imagine doing all this in a household? Women. There is gender inequality in many households. Why must women keep up the “traditional way” just because they are women? “Ya te puedes casar” is a phrase that means…
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May 28, 2021

Think about a household, a family, a husband and a wife. The laundry, cooking, cleaning, who do you imagine doing all this in a household?

Women. There is gender inequality in many households.

Why must women keep up the “traditional way” just because they are women?

“Ya te puedes casar” is a phrase that means you’re ready to get married. Although it may seem like a small joke, it has a lot of meaning. 

“Él es el hombre de la casa,” or “He is the man of the house.”

When did this become such a common thing?

Machismo in a Latino definition is when a male exhibits an overbearing attitude to anyone in a position he perceives as inferior to his, demanding complete subservience.

In Latino culture, this is something that has normalized itself throughout many years and it isn’t pointed out. It’s the way women are taught that men work and women cook, men pay the bills, women make sure the house is spotless. Men provide money and women make sure the kids grow up straight.

When I was small one day coming home from school, I was told by my mother that I had to clean and help her out before her husband came home.

I asked: “Why is it that only you clean and cook? And when he comes home from work the same way you do, he can just leave his shoes out on the floor and enjoy the rest of his time?”

She said: “because he’s the man of the house.”

What specifically makes us women, for it to become something normal that women do chores around the house and men don’t?

In the mid-1960s, women began to enter the workforce in great numbers. The percentage of women working have increased over the years.

Although juggling child-care challenges with work responsibilities takes a toll. At the end of 2019, there were about 35 million working mothers and roughly 9.8 million of them are suffering from workplace burnout, according to CNBC

This tells us that more than half of working mothers in the U.S who took the survey are suffering. They have too much on their plates to handle.

It should be obvious by the numbers that their husbands are not doing anything about this, or it isn’t obvious to them their wives are not the only ones who have duties as parents and have a house and a family to support. 

Going back a few years, we can see that women were never given the same opportunities as men. Over the years men have become used to seeing women lowly, and we can conclude from this that inequality in households began because women didn’t have the education that men did at the beginning.

Since this was the case it was established for women that they would be able to do no more than learn how to become housewives. In 1920, women made up about 20% of all people in the labor force. Less than half of the women in the entire world worked. Not only in education but also in many other matters there was inequality.

The rights to vote, decide for themselves if they wished to have a child or not, as well as taking a voice on political matters were rights not given to them. At one point women began to take a stand and change this.

According to Brittanica, the Women’s Liberation Movement was a diverse movement that took place during the 1960s where women specified that they wanted freedom rights, as well as equal opportunities, they obtained it.  The Birth Control Movement took place in the 19th century as well when women asked for the increase of allowing them to take contraceptives, this would help women opportunities to control childbearing and their careers.

The Suffrage Movement jumpstarted when women began to realize they were seen as true if they are a “pious, submissive wife and mother concerned exclusively with home and family,” according to History.

Women today make up roughly 47% of the entire workforce in the U.S. The percentage doubled from what was back then to today.

These reasons as well as many more are why women have been pushed into the perspective that only women can do what they do. Although we are more at modern times, women have fought and struggled to gain the same equality they had the right to have. They have climbed their way up without any help, they have shown us they can take on what this world throws at them, but the challenge to change the ways at home still remains.

Women have changed so many situations around the world, the problems have been fixed externally, but not internally. 

If we ask for equality, we should start from genders, respect for women and men. Implementing household chores between both men and women is exactly fair. Women should not have to give up their work and ambitions to dedicate themselves to their kids and take care of the house, because of the reason that they are women.

Becoming full-time mothers and not given the choice to do so or not is not rational. Why must they give up something they are dedicated to, only them and not their partner?

This “traditional way” has been shown to girls growing up, repeating the cycle of inequality that has forced women to be seen as not equal to their partners at home and to continue burning themselves out at work, as a mother, and to return home with more responsibilities. Women sacrifice their goals and ambitions to stay home, they get no option.

In the Hispanic Community, Latino women should stop taking all the responsibilities of household chores and being a mother at the same time while working, the burden is being left to only them. During the pandemic this is making their situation worse, it’s been going on for years. Men need to notice this and take a stand on the inequalities that are happening. 

Multitasking is one of the abilities that a working mother possesses. Latina women do the majority of the household chores and child-rearing/while working. Latina women handle everything around them, they maintain control. Every day is a challenge to keep everything intact. The duties fall upon only them.

According to Yahoo, of 501 Latino mothers surveyed, 75% of them said they did more than half the cooking, cleaning and other household chores. Another 33% wanted them to share more equally in the housework. 

We can see that more than half of the women did more than half of the household chores, and less than half wanted to share the housework equally, not because they enjoy what they do but because they have been accustomed to this, and don’t say anything because they “are expected to take care of everything,” according to Yahoo.

The involvement of men has statistically been proven that they do the bare minimum of chores and never more or equal to women. A study of 515 people of two independent samples of Spanish men and women found unequal involvement in household chores by women and men. It found that women are involved higher in household chores compared to men.  

It has been shown to us again and again that women will always come first to who does more housework. Of course, there would be effects to this, being possible that men have more involvement in parenting than women, except women don’t because they don’t want to, but because they have to.

Although this topic has not been directly addressed, it has been talked about and the agreement to change the inequalities between a woman and a man concerning housework has to change.

According to Yahoo, there’s an increase in the national conversation to equalize the “mental load” of parenting, meaning the amount of energy involved in raising a family. However, due to gender stereotypes, the situation is more complex for Latinas. 

With all the workload that women have to deal with the outcome is overwork and they become distressed. For Latina women, this has been the “traditional way,” making us believe it is normal. If we gave this role to a man, would they be able to handle it?

We have already established that women indeed deal with a lot. During present times, the pandemic has made everyone’s life harder. It has led many to depression and through hard times. The pandemic is making it harder for women, making more workload, causing stress, anxiety, etc.

According to BBC, many campaigners believe there’s a long-term impact on women’s work and home lives because of the coronavirus. A United Nations study even acknowledged that the pandemic could remove decades of gender equality advancements.

As if women don’t have enough on their plates, they have been challenged even more during the pandemic because of covid.

The workload at home does not end. Disinfecting everything every day, cleaning, making food for their kids, three times a day, helping with money, worrying, these are all factors that cause more stress. Not only will it cause more difficulties for women, but as well put them on hold and un favor their situation in changing the inequalities in households. It has “the potential to be a disaster for equality,” according to BBC.

The reason for this is because education for kids has been changed to distance learning. Kids have to stay home and do school from there. Parents have to make the best decision, naturally, who better person than their mom to take care of them?

Working moms abandon their job and dedicate themselves to full-time mothers. Although some have the opportunity to continue working, the workload doesn’t change. Men work and they continue to support their family, making the “traditional way” seem more natural and accustomed.

The majority of these women are breaking down and hitting their breaking point. They are doing everything possible to sustain themselves. According to CNBC, 55% of parents said they’ve transitioned to working from home during the pandemic. Of those working from home, 56% said they found the situation difficult to navigate. 

The information is recent, which tells us these are the issues that are highly happening now. Throughout these times many working mothers are alone and receiving no sort of help. They are becoming incapable of feeling relieved from stress. Women take this as a momentary situation and put up with this. According to CNBC, even before the pandemic, burnout was a problem for working mothers. 

The attitude toward women by men is taking women lightly and seeing them incapable of much and becoming used to them being housewives does not start when one is old. In the Latino community, this stereotype has been shown from a young age. Latino kids both girls and boys grow up feeling that men are superior and women are inferior to them following the “traditional way.”

According to Her Campus, Hispanic culture paints a picture that women have to be submissive to their husbands and that in a household, the man is the only one who works and the woman becomes a housewife. The stereotype that has been thought of throughout Latino culture still stands. Latino women have been passive about this idea that has been inflicted on them, leading them to believe that it is not “important enough to address it,” according to Her Campus.

That said, there is also a different side where women are not forced or feel forced to be housewives. In fact, some take pride in it.

According to the New York Post, a housewife named Gaya they interviewed said she’s comfortable being a housewife and having her husband work. She believes that being a housewife is no problem, taking pride that she can help her husband in any way and make his life less stressful is her goal. Not only her but many women as well say they do not “resent having to do the bulk of the housework,” according to the New York Post

The “traditional way” works out for these women as well.

“I want him to be happy, and he loves how I cook and he appreciates it,” Gaya told the New York Post. “In my opinion, I think it’s a good balance for us that I do more [traditionally] ‘female’ things.”

Not only does she care for what her husband goes through but as well thinks this is a pretty normal and acceptable way of living. She does not take shame in doing the things most women would prefer not to do but strives to keep it this way. 

Some women are not given a choice, they are being exploited to this as something normal. They are expected to know and do women things without being told.

Why? Well because that’s the way they were thought and they have no issue with it.

Moreover, men feel they don’t have an obligation to be as involved as women are in the household. They believe that those house chores that keep the home clean every day are considered feminine. 

The men these women are married to believe the housework they do is considered “feminine” denying any fact that men should do or help out on house chores. They stand with gender ideology and believe it is the right way and how things should be managed.

Gender inequality in households between a man and a woman in a Latino Community is something we should stop turning a blind eye to and pay more importance to. It may not be a huge problem but starting from small issues makes a big difference in how things work.

Women have shown us they can take any challenge they have to face, but it’s time men appreciate everything they do and not think of their chores as “feminine,” but that being a masculine man is taking these duties and doing them as well.