For the longest time I never considered my mother a feminist. A strong woman, sure, but a feminist, no. Looking back at my mother’s life, it’s hard for me to not consider her a feminist. A retrospective of her life reveals a woman who really took things into her own hands and never bowed to anyone’s expectation or desires. Here are the following fun facts.
1) My mother refused to have a child in her 20s.
In most Latin American households, bringing a child into the world is a joyous occasion - no matter if the mother is young, married, or single. The fact of bringing another member into the family is something that’s always celebrated in Latin American culture. However, my mother refused to have any children in her 20s. She vowed to finish college and travel throughout Latin America and Europe after she was done with her studies.
2) My mother was the breadwinner of the family.
The fact that my mother is college educated and my father isn’t really set up some interesting discussions (fights) at home when I was a child. My father felt emasculated around my mother. The machismo attitude that dominates Latin American households is unfortunately one of the downsides of my culture.
The one time my father ever threaten to kick me out of the house was when I emasculated him in front of my mother. I was 16 at the time, we were having an argument, so I decided to mention how my mother - a woman - made more money than him and was responsible for teaching him how to drive. This was the first and only time I ever saw my father get hysterically angry, almost to the point of tears.
3) My mother refused to take my father’s last name.
My parents were born in 1950, so they pretty much had a very traditional view on most things; however, when they got married - my mother out right refused to take my father’s last name.
In Latin American culture, it’s customary to take both the husband and wife’s last name as one, which is why you see some Latinos with very long names. My mother refused to take my father’s name for two reasons: first, she didn’t like the idea of taking (or adding) a man’s last name. And second, she found his name to be typical and ugly. Interestingly enough, my mother also hated her name, so they came to a compromise: take my fathers middle name (which she liked) and change that to his surname.
4) Helping women with birth control and adoptions.
My mother worked as a nurse in New York for 15 years. During her stay at the hospital (she also worked at a clinic) she would help young girls with sex education. Always encouraging condom use and educating girls about their bodies and to think before doing anything life changing. She helped many young girls with putting their child up for adoption, always reviewing the circumstances and deciding ultimately what’s best.
My mother passed away in October, the day Hurricane Sandy hit New York. She was battling cancer and kidney disease for 8 years. While she did suffer for most of that time, I am happy that she went away peacefully in her sleep. I can’t think of a better way to go.
Masculinity has been constructed as a type of need for many inner city young men (in my case, New York.). Fighting the authoritative force by an equally authoritative victim (the amount of times I’ve witness black and Latino teenage boys call each other “pussy” on the train is too much to count!), both are using a typical masculine trope of violence only concerning men and leaving women as subordinates. Men become heroes, because they’re the ones who defy. There is a specific set of societal guidelines in determining what makes a man. These guidelines are being fought within the same force as the oppressors are demonstrating.
Musicality is being fought by both sides. You get can get an encounter between two macho men, but it’s still very much within a patriarchal mode - it not only produces but it also recycles the same conception of what it is to engage in a “macho” fight. As long as this constructed theme of what is ultimately deemed “macho” is still in effect, an echo of previous events will always be played. It’s all about the acknowledgement of the roles we as society are “assigned” to. It’s only when our roles are acknowledge that a serious discussion can be had.
This is a short response to the Huffington Post article “Is The Pope Latino?”
Yes, Pope Francis is Latino. Yes, his parents are from Italy. Yes, he was born in Argentina. Yes, he has an Italian surname. From my (disappointing) experience, many young Latinos from the US (my demographic) simply don’t understand the concept of race, nationality, and ethnicity. It’s quite popular for Latinos to substitute nationality for race (there are many different reasons for this– denial of African ancestry is one of them). A large number of them also fail to understand the history of Latin America and Spanish-speaking Caribbean. To keep it short and to the point – anyone can be Latino, and no, you don’t even need to have a Spanish name to be one. The qualifications (if you can call it that) of being “Latino” are quite simple: you just have to born and raised in a Latin American or Spanish-speaking Caribbean. For clarity, I will use a real life example. The president of Peru from 1990-2000 was a Japanese man named Alberto Fujimori. Here’s a full-blooded man of Japanese descent — the president of a South American country. Is he Latino? Of course he is. In Latin America, these questions are never asked, in fact the term “Latino” isn’t even used – it’s an umbrella term used in the United States (add Hispanic to that list) to represent people of different races and countries and lumping them all together as if they’re all one and the same. Latin America, much like the United States, is made up of immigrants (Europeans, Asians, etc), Indigenous (bigger population in South and Central America, nonexistent in Spanish-speaking Caribbean), and African slaves. “Brown” does not equate to Latinos because not all Latinos are brown, or white, or black, or etc. What people (Americans) have to understand is that each Latin American country has a different history of immigration – this affects the way people look and also changes their experiences, which is why umbrella terms like Latino or Hispanic are troublesome. To lay it out more simply, the experience of a white man from Chile compared to a black man from the Dominican Republic are going to vary in the US because of their skin color. One simply has more privilege than the other, yet they’re part of the same category. In the end, I’m just disappointed by “Latinos” in the US who know little to nothing about Latin American history. How can you be proud of being “Latino” when you don’t understand the basics of your history? It must be understood that Latin America is drastically different than most other countries. It’s not so black and white.
Read up on the Indonesian killings of 1965-1966, close to 500,000 people were killed for being communist. In Central America, the US helped with the killings of many communists and their sympathizers — all because the US was scared that our “little neighborhood over here” would fall under communist control. Little did they know they would be involved in the murder of thousands upon thousands of Latinos. The US supported dictatorships simply because they apposed communism; these same dictatorships killed their own citizens with arms sent from the US. So I guess having any part of communism isn’t exactly fantastic.
Pope Francis I AKA Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina is part of an organization I despise. Most Latinos are Catholics — but few are practicing Catholics. In our world, being Catholic is just a tribal check list of traits, not something taken seriously. However, unsurprisingly, the most righteous Catholics are poorer, uneducated, and usually campesinos (from the country side). This is what worries me: it’s easier to fool the uneducated and historically despised (indigenous) campesinos than it is the urbanite. Him being Latino (of European background) might gain more supporters and followers in Latin America, but I do not see this as a good thing. He’s still an old and out of touch man. Maybe things can change if they try to get someone younger up there. Maybe things would get better if they just abolish the whole pope thing all together.
Mass genocides have swallowed this earth in the name of ethnicity, race, religion, language, nationality, sex, and pretty much any significant detail that can be pointed to an individual who is different. Humans strive to be superior; we strive to be part of a group who is above the rest. This superiority complex that engulfs us all blinds us to the true meaning of acceptance. We are insecure, frighten, and small people who rather exacerbate a problem instead of accepting and embracing the weird and abstract.
For a game to be successful it must respect the player’s time. As I get older I’m finding it increasingly difficult to invest my time in video games. I’m not a busy man, no, in fact I sometimes have sufficient time to game. What I lack is a certain sense of motivation. I’m still very much interested in video games and gaming culture, but I’m at a point in my life where I’m no longer willing to invest my time to games that take twenty, thirty, sixty, or hundred hours to complete. More recently this generation of indie games has saved my once dying heart, pumping fresh blood into a decaying body that was once at the brink of disinterest in the medium. Games like Journey, Closure, Braid, and many other highly, and not so highly, regarded games opened my eyes to the wonderful world of the “two hour” experience.
Tired, sleepy. I find myself wanting to stay in bed underneath my sheets, away from any sunlight. I’m finding the most simplest of movements difficult. I’d rather sleep this moment of life away and wake up, not to a picture perfect life, but one in which I’m at least comfortable in.
My mind is wandering off into a myriad of violence and contempt for my brother. I no longer have any control of my body. My fingers twitch, my legs shake. My sight is blurry — and I continue to lose hair out of stressful frustration.
My mother died on Monday, it’s Friday and my brother has yet to call, text, or do anything that would give an indication that he cares about me. This isn’t unique, he’s always been like this — a private, invisible void I can never get a hold of. The man lives 15 minutes away with his wife; in an apartment I’ve never been in because I’ve never been invited. His engagement was a well kept secret to me until I found out 8 months later. Our relationship is absent of any love or respect. When I’m with him it’s as if I’m with a stranger — no eye contact and minimal dialogue. I’m not perfect, I understand some of the problems I’ve caused, but no sibling deserves this type abandonment. My mother always told me that when she dies the only family I’m going to have is my brother. Yes, he is the only family I have, but blood means nothing when there’s no heart.
What offends you may not offend me. Graphic language is not a necessity in our dialogue as humans. We can express what we mean without the use of strong language. Being offended by words, not the content of the sentence, usually causes annoyance than anything else. For instance, it wasn’t necessary for Charles Bukowski to include such graphic descriptions of sex in his novel, Women, it’s not necessary, but it’s what gives the novel life, a voice of its own. Being offended by racism, sexism, language, violence seem to be all but absent in the world. We talk about them, but nothing is done. Yet, we all are offended by different things. Some are offended by language, others by sex. Most art is not made to convey a message, only set to entertain you – and that’s fine. But others are out simply to shock and offend you with its content – there is no meaning within the words or images, only perversion covered as art.
Being anonymous on the internet has its perks, we all know them: no name, sex, location, race, or face – you’re only known from your avatar, username, and words. The words you use almost always express your true feelings; feelings that may not always be apparent in the real world. We live in an age where we have true freedom of speech. The internet has given us a voice; but most importantly, it has allowed us to shroud our faces. We are hidden, but our words fly out without a second of hesitation. There is no sympathy for the weak here. Opinions will be challenged and feelings will be hurt, which is why the topic of sexism in games is prevalent and controversial, usual bringing forth a wrath of ugly comments from both sides of the argument.
I’m in no way an expert in feminism or gender issues; however, I have studied it academically in school. The constant bombardment of sexism in gaming is a topic that’s almost impossible to escape from. The most common trope I see is the misuse of the words “misogyny” and “sexism.” For many, these are one in the same; synonyms used interchangeably at will. It is true that these words are amorphously changing into one, but I think an in depth separation of the two would help understand some of the ridiculousness present in the current discussion of women in gaming.
A man (or woman) can enjoy the company of women — but still support discrimination against them. Misogyny, on the other hand, is a strong, concrete word that must be used in the context of complete and utter hatred of the female sex. In other words, misogynists are always sexist, but sexists are not always misogynists. A person can write a tweet, leave a comment, or publish an article that was sexist, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that writer hates women – nor does it mean that the game designer is out to single the female sex in disgust. For me, the differences are apparent, what I see is sexism – not misogyny. A man (or woman) can enter a strip club with the (obvious) intent of gazing at the female body. This act, to some, can be considered sexist — but not misogynistic because of the appreciation of philogyny that’s there. Dividing groups is the key to better understanding. For instance, Audre Lorde was the biggest critic of (white) feminism. Not because she hated them, but because she was a lesbian woman of color, she simply didn’t relate to what most (white) feminists were writing. Feminism needs to be (and it is) divided into sects.
Violence towards women is not always sexist or misogynistic. The key is context. Allow me to use the Toni Morrison example: a black, Nobel Prize winning author whose novels constantly feature women getting beaten, raped, and abused by men. Usually her books don’t end happily. Her melancholic tales are not concerned with portraying women as “strong” individuals. What she is concerned about is their characterization – they are fully fledged out people. They feel real. They are weak and complicated. They fight back – they are real women with real emotion. Now, are games at the same level of sophisticated characterization? Not really. Which is why any image seen is deemed sexist. It’s because the context is so weak. While this is an impressive feat of writing. It still leaves the lingering image of women as victims (a question I raised in my African American Lit class, regarding Morrison’s Jazz). The image is ultimately cliche and tiring. The same problem that video games are currently facing.
The restroom is unlike any David has ever been in before. He was determined to stay there until he calmed himself down. Alone in the only space he felt safe, he stood in the middle listening to the faint music playing at his brother’s wedding. Wearing a jacket too small and pants too big, he felt a sort of lack and discomfort both physically and emotionally. An event he knew little about, an event he wasn’t part of, an event where the only family member was treated as a stranger invited friend. David, only knowing his truth, was starting to break. His brother, on the other hand, was having the time of his life celebrating his liberty and love to his new found wife — a woman David only met once, a woman who was kept a secret from him and his father, but shared with enthusiasm with his mother, a woman who might as well be a complete stranger.
After imprisoning himself in the restroom for twenty minutes, David finally exited, walking slowly to the hall where everyone gathered. David still felt like a teenager, he was embarrassed when he found out his brother’s wife was four years younger than him. David was in his mid twenties, and his brother was starting a new decade in life with the New Year the following month. David returned to the hall, sitting in the only family table. Out of the two hundred guests, only four family members were present: his mother, father, aunt, and cousin. The family of the bride didn’t bother to introduce themselves to the only family present of the groom. David’s mother knew them, but not once did the father or mother or any of the sisters got up to greet them. David, accepting this fact, came up with an excuse to leave. Alone he walked along the dirty New York streets. Having no one by his side, he walked alone with his head down, obsessing about his decision to leave everything behind and start anew.