Are they strong or are they self-conscious creatures of conditioned authority? Machista men and alcohol mix like oil and water. Carrying my grandfather’s last name was an honor until it wasn’t. As a child I watched my uncles get piss drunk and beat the shit out of each other. They fought over entitlement and control. When they are sober, they are a band of loyal bros, ready to take on the world together. When the cheap, watered-down beer and whiskey flows into their angry veins, take cover. My last name was an invisible and protective shield of armor. Protection from what, you may ask. My feelings, my emotions, perhaps my forbidden feminist thoughts. It is no surprise that as a child, I considered my misogynistic household as a normal and respectable environment. I mean, why not? I watched women who I highly respected tolerate verbal and emotional abuse from men they loved.
For generations, Hispanic and Mexican American women have protected the legend of being machista by tolerating and nurturing toxic Mexican culture. I heard it all growing up in a multigenerational household. Excuses were made for controlling and manipulative behavior. My mother would make countless excuses for one of her brothers that made my childhood a nightmare. “Just ignore him, that’s just the way he is! He has always been an angry person.” Stupid, fat, birdbrain, brat, annoying, chavala cagada (girl covered in feces), and ugly were his favorite names for me. It is no surprise I didn’t want to be a girl. They were weak, submissive, and tolerant. I was certainly not. I grew up confused because I was conditioned to respect my elders. However, I didn’t have respect for the men I was taught to love. In fact, I was disgusted by them.
To no surprise, I was treated differently as a child. I was not going to wear the dress. I was not going to put the action figures down, and I was not going to stay inside with the women in the kitchen. Most importantly, I was not going to be someone who fit their perfect description of what or who a woman is. I did not fit the narrative painted by generations of Chicano culture. At that time, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be a woman, nonetheless society’s woman. Growing up I did not know exactly why I was different, but I was aware of the patriarchal setting that inhabited the place I called home. I recall being constantly told I could not do many things because I was a girl. I thought, “well I don’t want to be a girl then”. Whatever a girl was, I wanted no part of.
When I think of my childhood and how my abilities were hindered based on the core of my gender, I resonate with Freud’s theory of penis envy. I always thought the penis was a grotesque and lifeless limb. Hanging and unnecessary, I thought wow I want one! Specifically, because I associated freedom and limitless power to the majestic creature hanging in the wind. The hobbies and activities I loved and enjoyed were only suitable for Penis club members. Now as an adult I think, “they’re just a bunch of dicks”! Some of those penises wear prideful flags and jump off the highest cliffs, yelling look at me I’m a powerful dick! They parachute into the crowd using their cultural identity to safely land in a pool of ignorance and lies. Then, the culturally and socially conditioned women put their spatulas and brooms down after a long, hot exhausting day of cooking and cleaning and run over to the slightest sound of inconvenience and praise their pet penises for successfully landing in a foot of water. They must be tired and hungry. Give them a foot rub. Give them a merit. Give them a city. I say grab them by the dick until they cry, and watch their feelings flood the land. So much emotion, they must be on their period. They better head to the kitchen and feed themselves. Life is tough, but what do I know? I don’t have a penis.