“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Women rule in Colombia!

I can't make up my mind whether the women in Colombia are liberated or oppressed. In so many ways it amazes me just how free they are (and how free I feel here), and yet the machismo is still here, and there are times when the women seem like they're completely dominated by men.

How are they dominated?
  • Almost all women wear makeup all the time, and thick mascara is the norm, even when doing things like diving.
  • High heeled shoes, all the time, everywhere, as pointy and stilleto as you can possibly find
  • Thongs... my ordinary knickers feel very wide...
  • Most women, especially in the city, are a man's typical dream of sexy with long glossy hair, sexy bodies, etc
  • Plastic surgery is the norm... women even get their bums enhanced.
  • The Medellin art museum scattered throughout powerful photos of women abused

How are they liberated?

  • At the coast, especially Cartagena, they let it ALL hang out. Flab rolls (and rolls) hanging out, giving a new definition to midriff
  • Women wear the skankiest clothing everywhere, all the time. Anywhere else, they would be labelled as prostitutes
  • Their mannerisms show just how much power and strength the women have. The voices you hear are not men, but women demanding equal rights
  • The men are gentlemen, treated with respect. So many lovely men have been courteous and plesant. There are no leers, jeers, whistles or other noise
  • The Salsa dancing is a sensual dance where the women can take charge just as much as the men
  • The mood, the vibe, the appearance of equality.

Who knows which is more true... I really need to ask a Colombian woman what she thinks.


Rama said...

Honestly, I wouldn't consider rolls hanging out and skanky clothing "liberated"... I call it tasteless. Liberation has always been an intangible thing for me. Feeling the strength and confidence exuding from a well-dressed, put together woman... that's women's empowerment. Not dressing like a bum.

Preya said...

Hi there Natalya! We have a lot in common: I am American/Indian, grew up in India, Thailand, and mostly Vietnam. I teach high school English full time in Colorado, and I'm getting my MA in education. I plan to teach overseas in international schools once I'm finished. You're living my dream!

Natalya said...

Sam, I´m talking about being in the country and not in towns and cities... in t&c they´re well put together. This is my comparison: in the west, men hang out in their wife beaters (and what an awful word THAT is!!) or shirtless with their beer guts hanging out all the time and it´s acceptable, but if a woman wears even a revealing tank top or such during the day, she´s skanky. Here, these women have equal right to look disreputable. That´s more what I meant.

Also, this is a completely male dominated society. Less than 30% of political positions are women, there´s still no legal abortion, and all the wheeling and dealing of business is the men´s club. Then again, most of the world is a man´s world... I´m just trying to celebrate what unique rights the women here do have. And compared to most of South America, they´re liberated in some ways.

Rama said...

Hmm... interesting comparison then. I've actually seen some women on the train heading to work with tops that don't cover their stomachs completely... alas, I'm way too conservative in my dress... I still think open-toed shoes at the office is a no-no. :)

Natalya said...

On facebook:

Jane McKibben: hey... thats how i feel about the women here in mexico as well. actually the mother symbol, is the most revered person in all of society. whether it be mother mary (la virgen de guadalupe) or one´s own mother. in fact its such a huge insult to curse out someone´s mother. stemming down from that is how husbands look at their wives. many men say they treat women with the same respect they would like other men to treat their mothers or sisters or wives...
but yeah sorry going back to wives. she is the symbol of purity. the wife is a vase that needs to be protected etc. which sometimes causes conflicts with how husbands and wives relate to each other sexually.
June 30, 2007 at 2:31am

Natalya said...

On facebook:
Jane McKibben: for example here in mexico it is not uncommon for a husband to have a mistress who he has to fulfill his sexual desires that he cannot fulfill with his wife (the symbol of purity). and it is generally accepted (of course not 100% accepted, but culturally accepted). there are so many jokes about this its not even funny anymore.
so one hand, like you were saying about columbian women, the women are esteemed (they are thought to be pure, we must respect them, and they are treated with alot of respect)...
but then on the other hand all of the points u mentioned above are so true here as well (women are often objectified as sexual symbols- also of their own doing; there are some men who treat women with no respect- wolf whistling on the street, calling out rude things) and plus the law also in some ways has made it hard for women. for example, if a man cheats on his wife and she divorces him based on these reasons then she doesnt get alimony...
June 30, 2007 at 2:43am

Natalya said...

On facebook:

Jane McKibben its interesting as a foreigner, or rather as a person who has lived in a western society, to see these differences no? sometimes i feel this is such a paradoxical and even (sometimes) hypocritcal society. not as if all other cultures dont have hypocrisy or paradoxes... its just the way that i have seen it from my own experiences of being here.
just wanted to share also. liked your thoughts on that... thanks for posting the note :)
June 30, 2007 at 2:45am

Natalya Marquand Absolutely! It's so contradictory sometimes... I never seen such a large contrast between power and oppression as I have in South American, and you're so right that every society is hypocritical in some way!
June 30, 2007 at 4:22am

Jane McKibben: ooooh!! nice website... i just checked it out.
it was so good to see your parents in your photos. and your photos are so interesting!! wow, uv been to heaps of places my dear!
June 30, 2007 at 6:11am