5 Favorite Customs of Patriarchy
Yeah, you read the title right.
Patriarchy lives strong in this latin country, where men pride themselves on being manly, and women very feminine. That being said, the President of Argentina is a woman…
This feminist has enjoyed the interesting culture of a country that never had a feminist movement, where abortion is illegal and pornography rampant. I have a lot to say about gender relations in BA, but I’ll save that for another post. This post is about chivalry – a custom that lives strong here in Argentina. I made a list of my daily reminders of the patriarchic powers at play:
5. Tell me I’m beautiful:
Yesterday I was having terrible low self esteem. I felt moody and hormonal, and well, ugly. I was going out to meet a friend for coffee, and so I tried to look nice. As I walked to the subway, my eyes downcast, I passed a man who as I walked by exclaimed ‘la reina!’ (the queen) I realize to American anti-monarchist, this might sound like he was insinuating I was a snobbish, but here in Argentina, its a genuine compliment. As a matter of fact, I’ve gotten used to strangers’ compliments – and frankly, I enjoy hearing random men tell me that I am a ‘diosa rubia‘ or blonde goddess. And I’m not even blonde!
This constant flattery has gone to my head I’m afraid. These men have convinced me that I really am The Queen, and they are here to worship me. Not actually work, like they probably should be doing instead of cat calling women in the street.
4. Give me your seat:
I was on the subte the other day, and an old woman boarded my car. All of the seats had been taken, and several people were standing. The old woman glanced a little anxiously towards the full seats. Right away a young man jumped up and led the woman to his seat. She thanked him twice. ‘Ah mi amor, mi amorrrr‘ (my love, my love) he flirted, and took a spot standing by the door. The old woman smiled and blushed, clearly flattered by his fliratation. Even I, an uninvolved bystander was touched by this courteous and sweet gesture.
3. Let me off the elevator first:
When riding on a crowded elevator in Buenos Aires, it is customary to let the women on and off the elevator first, and the men second. This ritual seemed so antiquated to me, like on Titanic, when women and children were allowed to board the life rafts first. But I’ve quickly become accustomed to being treated with courtesy.
2. Open that door for me:
A chivalric classic – not only holding the door for you, but yes, sometimes even going out of the way to open it. Say what you will, I’m into it. Back home I had to train my first boyfriend to unlock the car door for me. And he would only unlock it, never actually open it. Lucas not only unlocks my car door first, but also when he parks the car, he comes around and opens the door for me to exit the car as well. And The Queen Complex gets stronger every day…
1. Don’t rob me:
While not a foolproof rule, it may be true that maybe women are generally a little safer in the streets then men. This does not guarantee that you will never come across trouble, especially if you look foreign or tourist-like, but for whatever reason, women are slightly less likely to be robbed or attacked in the streets.
Well the debate continues….is chivalry based on the notion that women are the weaker sex and must be cared for? Or is it rooted in respect for the fairer sex? Either way, being courteous makes the world a nicer place.