Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chismeando About Dating and Marriage

I'm the type of person that keeps his personal life quiet (I know, hard to believe considering some of the things I've posted on Twitter, but I am anonymous on there and here), so I don't talk about girlfriends or women I'm dating to my family. I don't bring them around to meet the family like so many of my cousins have done, because I personally feel, if I bring a girl to meet my family, it's because it's serious, and we might possibly get married. But I'm at an age where, as a Mexicano it's not typical to not be married or have a kid here & there out of wedlock. My mom at one point even thought I was un gay. ('-__-) But it's understandable being that again, I don't bring any women around, I don't talk about the women with my mom, but again, I just like keeping my personal life personal, and I don't feel comfortable talking with my mother about my dating life.

But I'll usually answer certain questions as long as they aren't directly relate to anyone I'm dating. For example she's asked me how "dating" works. Something like, "When you date, does that mean the girl is your girlfriend?" I explain, that dating means you're going out with the girl, and you for the most part start out as friends, but you're dating or going out to get to know eachother, so there's already an interest, but it doesn't mean you're officially boyriend and girlfriend.
"But if girls date different guys, doesn't that make them how the boys say, hos?" To which I have to explain, that no, since dating is just a way to get to know one another, that girls date different guys, just like guys can date different girls, unless both agree to be exclusive to one another, or if commitment has been discussed.

It's interesting because my mother seems to have a hard time grasping how this dating thing works. I think she's considering dating other men, now that her marriage with my father is over, but I think there's too many stigmas, plus she feels there would be too much chisme. We live in a small town, but half of the town is practically our family from both her side and my dad's side. So I think she's hesitant of what all the relatives and friends of the family might think about her, even though, they are divorced. Nonetheless she continues to have that fear of what people might think or say. My mother is actually quite conservative in that sense, because she was brought up in a very traditional family, from the a rancho or pueblito, in Mexico, where her parents upheld very strict family values.

It's interesting to hear my mother try to ask me about my dating life. Especially because the differences between growing up here in the U.S. and dating is so very different in comparison to what she experienced. My mother and father basically had an arranged marriage. I say it was an arranged marriage, because her parents never allowed her to date, and when my father came into the picture as a suitor, they had a few interactions on the phone, but they never dated. My grandparents, more specifically my mother's father, didn't allow her to go out with my dad so that they could get to know each other. My dad had to have an uncle come with him to ask for her hand in marriage, but there was none of that dating stuff we do in the present, and my abuelo imposed these rules here in the U.S.

They weren't in Mexico anymore, but those rules very much carried over from their rancho. So strict was my mom's dad in fact, that a boy had at one point apparently asked my mother to a school dance, but she warned him in advance that her father wouldn't allow her to go, but the young man persisted, and told her to let him speak to her father over the phone. Apparently the guy called, my mom handed her father the phone, and the young man tried to convince my abuelo into letting her go to the dance, but my abuelo's response was pretty much "No se que tipo de personas piensas que somos, pero mis hijas no van andar saliendo a ningun baile, porque yo las crei con respecto. Y espero que tu tambien respectes a mi familia." I'm guessing the young man, apologized to my grandfather and told him he didn't mean any disrespect, but my abuelo didn't change his mind. It's not to say that my grandparents were so restrictive that they never allowed my mom and her sisters to go out, they were allowed to go to bailes, but of course they would usually have their older brothers, mis tios in tow, keeping a watchful eye on them and any men that would attempt to ask them to dance. So the whole family was essentially reinforcing this type of oppressive mentality. Anyhow, my mom and dad didn't get to know each other until they got married, and I'm guessing that's the reason their marriage didn't survive. They divorced a few years ago.

Presently I think, that my mom seems to feel it's taboo that as her oldest son I'm not married or that I haven't brought her any grand kids. Part of it, is that I don't want to be a statistic whether a divorced one, or a "Hispanic/Latino" that has kids out of wedlock. Regardless, I find such conversations with my mom interesting, and curious, because she seems to be astounded by the whole dating thing, but she still seems to think, that being a good Mexican woman is having your marriage arranged with someone you hardly know, although she admits that if she would have dated my dad, and gotten to know him better, she doesn't think she would have married him. But then again, there are people who date, they get to know each other, get married, and still end up divorced. So it's really a shoulder shrugging thing. You just never know, but nonetheless I applaud my mother for divorcing, because she admits that her own mother stayed in a marriage like so many other Mexicanas, because of the children or because Mexican Catholic culture didn't allow them to leave the man, even if he cheated or beat them. And her mother like many other Mexican women stayed in marriages due in no small part to the reinforcing of "Mexican culture, tradition, and values," over generations, but also due to what the rest of the community might think, family and friends included, a good tool for reinforcing those "traditions." My grandmother tried to convince my mom to stay in her marriage, but I'm glad my mother didn't listen to her. It was time to break that cycle.

Am I advocating for divorce? No. I'm just writing from my own personal experiences and my opinion in relation to my family. I understand divorce brings about turmoil especially for the children, but staying in these marriages, brings about just as much turmoil for the children. We want to believe that keeping the family together is more important. Therefore even if a Mexicana experiences abuse or infidelity, she is considered strong for staying in the marriage, but I think it takes a stronger Mexicana not so much to divorce or leave a toxic marriage, but to confront the those things that we consider "traditional family values," and try to take them on, knowing that the Mexican community works as a tool at times whether it knows it or not, to repress those Mexicanas and keep them in those marriages. Mexicanas do it to each other by chismeando and bad mouthing their comadres that divorced or separated from their husbands. It's difficult to look inward on what we consider to be something that makes outsiders believe it is something that makes Mexican families so strong, but we need to re-evaluate what is ultimately "culture," and what is more oppressive tools given to a specific gender in order to wield power over their women, but they get to hide behind "culture," and they can even have other women become participants assisting men, in this type of repression, when they pick up the tool of chisme and bad mouth one another.


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