House On Mango Street Machismo And Feminism English Literature Essay

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Machismo is known as the way some men behave without thinking and caring about women and their decisions. Feminism is the women´s revolution against machismo; it is how women started to defend their opinions, ideals and their own lives. There are many ways and examples of how women have fought against machismo. In the book In the Time of the Butterflies, written by Julia Álvarez, it is shown how women go against the traditional women's role reflected with the Mirabal sisters but also it is seen that some women prefer to stay with their traditional woman role and they also fight for the freedom of their country.. The book written by Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street, talks about machismo and feminism as the way of living in a whole street. It relates how women are treated even when they are in a foreign country and how there are women who do not accept their reality because they know they deserve something better. Both books contain machismo and feminism, somehow, in the same way, the fight of women in order to get their rights.

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Machismo is found in the streets and also in the home. At home it is more common to find machismo because there is where every social behavior and education begins. Machismo at home is more commonly represented through a father's behavior. In the book The House on Mango Street there is Sally's father, a man, who lives just with his daughter, and loves her in a rude way. As Sally describes it, "He never hits me hard… until the way Sally tells it, he just went crazy, he just forgot he was her father, between the buckle and the belt" [1] . It shows an example of how machismo includes violence in the family. There does not always have to be a reason to hit someone. Sally's father wants to show he is a real man, so he beats his own daughter without thinking about what she feels and how is she going to get her own happiness back. But not only fathers are machistas; the whole family could be machista. The clear example appears in the book In the Time of the Butterflies, when the family is waiting for a baby boy; "They're all there, Mama, Papá, Patria- Minerva- Dedé. Bang-bang- ban. Their father likes to joke, aiming a finger pistol at each one, as if he were shooting them, not boasting about having sired them. Three girls, each born within a year of the other! and then, nine years later, Maria Teresa, his final desperate attempt at a boy misfiring." [2] The author tells how the whole family was waiting desperately for a baby boy but instead of a boy, a girl arrived and changed everything. A family with only girls is a symbol of debility because if the father dies, no one will defend the home and the family's women. Being a girl in a machista world, represents that one of the most important treasures of a family, the last name, will be lost if there are no boys. It shows how women are humiliated for not being men. The value that women deserve but do not receive just because they are women.

Machismo is reflected by men in many acts of repression against women. One of these ways is when men use women as sexual objects. In the book In the Time of the Butterflies there is a character named Trujillo. He is known as the dictator of the Dominican Republic and also he is known because he has lots of lovers all around the Dominican Republic "Look Minerva, one of Trujillo's girlfriends lives there… papa looked at me a long time before and he said… 'He's got so many of them, all over the island, set up in the big fancy houses, Lina Lovaton is just a sad case, because she really loves him. pobresita" [3] . Trujillo sees Lina Lovaton while she is at the school playing a volleyball game. She is one of the most beautiful girls in the school where the Mirabal sisters go. Trujillo, at first, behaves as the fancy prince every girl wants in her life but suddenly he shows his real behavior when he takes Lina to a fancy jail where he locks her in while she is just standing in that house, waiting for him to come and stay with her. Thought Lina Lovaton, is not the only girl that Trujillo uses as sexual object. In the book The House on Mango Sreet there are women used as sexual objects. The narrator describes "Sally stayed by the curb talking to Tito and his friends… Sally was pretending to be mad… something about the boys having stolen her keys. One of the boys invented the rules. One of Tito's friends said you can´t get your keys back unless you kiss us…" [4] . Tito and his band are the boys who represent that men in a young age have started to behave machistas because of the education they receive at home. Men condition women in order to get sex from them because some men think that women exist just for having babies. Sally and Lina Lovaton are women who are used as sexual objects because of men's rule. Machismo is justified because the society has let men behave as they want to.

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On the other hand, there exist two kinds of women. The first kind is composed by the women who are afraid of fighting against the machismo. Those women might think they are not strong enough or that they do not have enough value to fight against those men who oppress them. The first example of this kind of women is Dedé, one of the Mirabal sisters who instead of going with her sisters to fight against Trujillo and all those injustices, would rather stay at home just because she is afraid of her husband who tells her that if she goes, he will leave her alone. "Dedé shakes her head. 'Back in those days, we women followed our husbands.' Such a silly excuse. After all, look at Minerva. 'Let's put it this way' Dedé adds. 'I followed my husband. I didn't get involved" [5] It is just the way Dedé was taught, to stay at home and obey her husband, whatever he said, whatever he ordered have to be done. Dedé obeyed her husband just for a while because later she decides to change her mind and she divorces from her husband. Dedé changes because suddenly she realizes that no one is going to defend her if she does not do anything for her own benefit. There is another case of a cowardly woman who stays at home just because she has gotten used to be beaten, she is Sally "You don't laugh, Sally. You look at your feet and walk fast to the house you can't come out from… Sally, do you sometimes wish you didn't have to go home? Do you wish your feet would one day keep walking and take you far away from Mango Street?" [6] Sally whom has been given the option to keep walking and run away from that house where she is beaten but she goes home knowing that there is going to be her father and without any reason he will beat her up and she is going to stand there being hurt. Sally would rather to stay at home because somehow she feels loved when she is being beaten and also she says he never hits her hard because she has accepted her traditional women role even when it includes her being beaten. But she has not understood that love does not include violence. The traditional role does not allow women to talk about their ideas and defend their own lives.

On the other hand, there are women who decide to fight against machismo. The movement called feminism is where women decide, instead of living with a traditional role, fight in order to change their futures and defend their ideals and families. As Julia Álvarez describes through Minerva's voice "I look over Mamá to see what she thinks, but as usual, she doesn't say a word in public. In fact, this afternoon with Don Antonio was the first time I ever saw Mamá stand up for herself, or actually, for me and Papa" [7] , it shows how feminism works without any kind of advisement, it just comes out from the inside of every woman who wants her benefit and who sees the necessity of fighting for what they, women, think is necessary for their lives. Julia Álvarez also says "El Jefe smiles cynically. 'Anything else bother you about my dress I could take off?' He yanks me by the wrist, thrusting his pelvis at me in a vulgar way, and I can see my hand in a endless slow motion rise- a mind all its own- and come down on the astonished, made up face" [8] . Minerva defends herself instead of letting Trujillo treat and uses her as a sexual object. The consequences of her behavior will not bring anything good but she decides not to lose her dignity although it is going to cost her the prize of her own life. The decision of going against a traditional role is not an easy thing. Back on "the House on Mango Street"; "Nenny says she won't wait her whole life for a husband to come and get her, that Minerva's sister left her mother's house by having a baby, but she doesn't want that way either. She wants things all her own, to pick and choose." [9] Nenny is part of the feminist movement because she wants to fight against the traditional women role, she does not want to get pregnant in order to go away from home, and she thinks that getting married is not the only way in order to get freedom. Nenny is a strong girl who thinks she can do huge things without the necessity of having a man by her side. Both she and Minerva are examples of women having the power their own without giving it away, women who know how to get their strength out from their deep inside.

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Machismo and feminism are social roles that have always existed in every society. At first, the important roles of a family and society were only managed for men who decided what the whole town had to do. Women could not work, they had to stay at home, taking care of their children and husband, cooking, and waiting until the man arrived; while men worked and brought money to the house. Nowadays, with feminism, women can not only take care of children, they also can work, and are allowed to aspire to be governors of countries and states. The women's traditional role has changed. It has not been an easy thing because there are men who can not accept their women going against their traditional role. But the new generations grow with the idea of women and men being the same and having the same rights and obligations as men do. Women and men are never going to be the same, but they have to learn how to complement each other without abusing of their power and rights. It is not about who has the power and who is the oppressed; it is neither about who fights against whom in order to get power; it is just a fight about equality of gender.