Feminist Woes

Liberia Travel Blog

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This entry goes out to all my independent women, especially those who understand Latin American chauvinism or “machismo.”

Some of us independent women may find it difficult to understand men from other cultures that so blatantly treat women… differently. Catcalls (piropos, en Español), pet names, shameless stares… it’s all part of the culture. Of course, this happens in all parts of the world, including the US, but it’s interesting, to say the least, to experience it firsthand in another culture.

This phenomenon can best be described only by example. Aside from the everyday sexism I hear on the street, I’ve had some other relatively harmless chauvinistic encounters. Last night, I went to play soccer for the second time with a friend and his team. I was the only girl playing with a bunch of Ticos who have played multiple times a week for years. I wasn’t the only girl there, however; there were a few nonchalant ticas looking bored but all dolled up, supporting their boyfriends silently on the sidelines. Needless to say, I was nervous the first time I went, but the players were pretty cool about it and I actually didn’t play too badly.

Once I started to play, however, I realized the bigger guys were scared of me. Well, they weren’t so much scared of me as they were of hurting me. It was kind of empowering, at first, to see big guys slamming into each other and then tiptoeing around me, but then I just felt like Roberta in Now and Then when she played baseball with a bunch of guys and they all came to the infield when the girl came up to bat. Degraded.

Also… they won’t let me pay. I’m the kind of girl who, although my funds are not exactly overflowing, doesn’t mind paying for myself, even on dates. It’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for the sake of feminism. So, when I took out my wallet to contribute my share for using the field to play soccer, my friend Cesar told me, “No, no, usted no paga, usted es mantequilla,” or “ you don’t pay, you’re butter...” Um… Huh?

Then he explained that “you’re butter” is a saying in Spanish that means that you, the woman, are a condiment, you come as a side dish, so you never have to pay. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the Spanish language, but seriously? I’m a side dish? I’d rather pay than be a condiment, thank you very much.

So I used my defense mechanism, sarcasm, but it comes across differently in Spanish, I think. Sometimes I feel like I'm too boisterous for them, but luckily, they seem to find it funny rather than rude, even though a tica would never say some of the things I (and fellow feminists) say. I told them I should hang out with them more often, not just to play soccer, but so they could pay for everything for me. I thought, hey, maybe I should stop listening to my feminist side and save a few easy colones. My buddies think it’s hilarious when the gringa makes “jokes…” But they still won’t let me pay, for anything. I should be thrilled about this though… I’m not spending money and at least they’ll let me play soccer… right?
vila says:
Ha ha, "butter, condiment, side dish". My dalmatian guys could learn something here, ha ha! When you think of it, it's not bad being a condiment, it might spice up life :)
Posted on: Jan 15, 2010
mamacitapatti18 says:
That's my girl! :) Not exactly the quiet type...just like your mama!
Posted on: Dec 11, 2009
Eric says:
Interesting perspective, went to Costa Rica to surf with a guy friend a few years ago, and don't really get to see this side of things!
Posted on: Dec 10, 2009
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Liberia
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