BLOG THREE: THE FEMALE ROLE, MACHISMO AND THE SOCIAL REALITIES OF EL SALVADOR

This is the third post in a five part blog series, "Peacebuilding: A Way to End Violence Against Women in El Salvador".

“The liberation of women requires, and is only really possible through, a change that goes to the root of this system and of its mechanisms of domination. We have to uproot structural violence and move toward a new type of social relations. We need a new exodus, in which the female role is fundamental and determining.[1]

One of the accusations that is wielded when a woman wants to do something to liberate herself and become equal with men is that she wants power. That is not the point at all. But in fact, eventually, when our society can consider all human beings equal, we will get power - and that then will be a good thing. But in El Salvador now as before, the man is supposed to be in the public sphere, in the community where they live, and the woman in the private sphere, in the home of the family. That concept is still very much a part of public consciousness, the way Salvadorans perceive and live their domestic lives, as I heard some Salvadoran women share.

To many, machismo has been equated with sexism, male chauvinism, and male power. Almost every society, whether Eastern or Western, bears the marks of machismo in as much as it is patriarchal. However, in Latin America, the machismo seems to be particularly strong, more deeply ingrained, and more overtly accepted than it is in Canada.

According to Ruth Mooney, an American Baptist missionary who worked in El Salvador for almost a decade, “To be macho is still viewed as a positive quality by most Salvadorans; in the Canadian North American culture, although we can find many areas and subcultures where it is admirable to be macho, by-and-large the dominant modern culture tends not to affirm machismo and, thereby forcing it underground.[2]

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[1] Ana Flora Anderson and Gilberto da Silva Gorgulho, “Miriam and Her Companions,” in Future of Liberation Theology, ed. Marc C. Ellis and Otto Maduro. (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1989), 209.

[2] Kathleen Hayes, Women on the Threshold - Voices of Salvadoran Baptist Women (Georgia: Smyth & Helwys Publishing Inc, 1996), 27.

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