Dominican roots of male dominance


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Dominican roots of male dominance

It is evident throughout the novel ‘The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao’ that huge emphasis has been placed on the gender roles of both the males and the females (Diaz 21). It is through these roles traced in the book that it is evident that through the extreme machismo attitude we get to know what is expected of men in the Dominican Republic (Heiser 11). The women are degraded and are considered to be nothing more than just a piece of meat. Machismo can be defined as the strong sense of the masculine pride or the extreme exaggeration of masculinity as well as such traits that get to be associated with the males.

Machismo is derived from the Spanish word macho that has the literal meaning of masculinity or simply male. Through time the word has been used to describe the males from Latin America. Despite the story of Oscar taking place in New Jersey (Díaz 5), the great Dominican culture tends still to be strong throughout a majority of the characters in the book, and as time progresses, the cultural expectations tend to be destructive to both male and females. The Dominican culture tends to be so strong such that it is difficult to remove the hardwired cultural aspects despite changing its location to the United States. Through understanding how the Dominican culture poses some impacts on the characters of the novel, one is allowed to fully understand the motives as well as the actions of the majority of the characters throughout the book.

Through the stereotypes in the Dominican Republic to which machismo is allowed, women are degraded by men to prove their masculinity (Heiser 20), and as a result, a variety of abuses occur to the women without any repercussions. Among the abuse suffered by women in the face of men include emotional, verbal, as well as the sexual abuse with an example of Beli and Lola in the book (Díaz 25). Beli was younger when she happened to sell to a man who in return poured hot oil on her back. It, therefore, becomes clear that through the machismo culture, women tend to be degraded by the overt masculinity to which the males have been encouraged and as well have been raised to cultivate throughout the book.

Through the act of men following the traditional Dominican male role, the women are therefore seen as nothing more than just objects they don’t have any personal rights or freedoms. The men continually use their masculinity as a form of superiority since their childhood while the women are not allowed to advance but only expected to turn their heads in the other directions. There are various examples of such behavior in the book ‘The brief and wondrous life of Oscar Wao’ when the boys such as Oscar get encouraged to having more than one girlfriends despite them being little boys (Díaz 27). Due to this way of life, it is therefore difficult for women to rise above the sexual discrimination to which they face throughout their daily lives. Despite the fact that the males subjugate the female population, the book clearly outlines how women have continually aided in the continuation of the vicious cycle. It can be seen that women encourage their boys to behave and act like men, for example in the story where Beli encourages Oscar’s young love escapades and continuous to talk degradingly of the girls he was dating. It can also be seen that the women cannot stand up for themselves or the place of their daughters despite the pain they are aware to have suffered.

The women refuse to make any effort to change what is going on, and therefore they get trapped in the cycle of the male domination. An example can be seen when nothing is done after Lola was raped (Díaz 25). In the Dominican Republic, it would be difficult perhaps to do something, but now they are in America, and certainly, nothing was done about the case. Via the women not standing by themselves, it only guarantees more power to the males. It is of great importance to have a closer look at how the Dominican males have continued to dominate over the females even after their immigration to the United States, a place where liberty and justice is a mainstay. Through this, it, therefore, proves difficult to understand as to why women still allow their homeland culture to dictate their lives even after living in a country that happens to guarantee their freedom as well as rights.

The information obtained from the Dominican Republic expresses how the women have simply been objectified rather than blatantly expressing how the females have been dominated by the males. It is one thing to be objectified and possessing a voice, but it is an entirely different thing to be a woman who matters for nothing more than her physical appearance as well as abilities to be a mother. For example, Beli received much attention for her looks as she was younger and as she slowly aged, her attention and responsibility in her life was shifted to raising her children in accordance to the Dominican standards. Since the great influence gets to be focused on the physical appearance of the women, the Dominican boys are therefore taught to see the females as nothing more than literal conquest (Brown 57). The type of behavior is pushed onto the minds of the young ones before they even know what they are being taught (Brown 58). The kind of behavior although seeming to be a minor promotes machismo at an age to which the children don’t have the cognizant ability of how they are being raised. In the Dominican culture, it is most likely that a father can take his son to the prostitutes such that he gets to be instructed on how to have sex when the boys are still young (Brown 57).

Just like the boys have been raised to chase after and lay as many girls as possible, the girls also have been taught to flaunt their physical appearances causing them to dress provocatively and usually wearing high heels and excessive makeups (Brown 57). It is through this that women have been parading themselves around as if they were in an auction in up for bids and this allows for the men to take whichever they find most attractive and take with them home. The type of social interaction lacks anything more than just looks and the appearances and can be considered as a rather shallow process of choosing a husband or a wife. The kind behavior tends to show how generally men and women tend to fall into their roles without the inquisition of the extent of degradation their culture exposes them. It seems as if the men and women of the Dominican culture don’t care about their personality, feelings and even the level of education but the only thing that matters to them is whether or not the member of the opposite sex is attractive. Much in the book, if the men in the Dominican culture are not suave, conquistador, such as Oscar, they are set up for failure for the period of their lives in the culture and are forever considered to be less than a man. Throughout the book, it is evident that Oscar has many and better qualities, but none of them tends to matter in his culture since he is not a good looking guy having sex with many good looking females. It tends to be more heartbreaking in the event of realization that a person is not recognized for the better attributes that he possesses, but he is only made fun of and torn down for the qualities that he lacks.

While the men in the Dominican culture are taught to possess the machismo mindset, the women on the other hand are expected to have the marianismo mindset, implying that the women are expected to act and behave similarly just like the Virgin Mary (Brown 58), to which is a ridiculous thought as well as a backward concept. The males are taught to conquer as many females as possible sexually, but the women are expected to be pure, innocent virgins to the time they are married. Even when married they are not allowed to have extra-marital affairs. The concept does not make sense when given a thought because, how do the men in the Dominican culture expect to have sex with as many women as possible and yet expect to settle and marry a virgin.

In the Dominican culture, the woman gets married so that they can sacrifice everything they have for their husbands, but in contrast, the husbands are not expected to sacrifice anything. It is not uncommon to have the Dominican men having mistresses as they view the issue of possessing some and extra-marital affairs as their right, but of course, women do not possess the right to any extent. The issue is evident in the book starting before marriage as Yunior is often found cheating on Lola. The double standard is too familiar to the United States culture as the men can be viewed as players and the women are simply easy and lack anything worthwhile when it comes to having sex with multiple partners. Possessing mistresses as a Dominican man is also seen as a sign of prestige to which is not surprising in such a culture (Brown 57). It is seen as prestigious to possess a mistress in the culture since the males have been raised to conquer as many women as possible. It is narrated in the book how Oscar’s grandfather was in possession of a mistress with the name Lydia to which was simply acceptable. Even after the women have suffered the sexism throughout their lives, they seem to do nothing or very little for their daughters from the same hurt and heartache. The females gloss over the hurt and the sexual domination to which their daughters face. Even as Lola was raped, Beli did nothing to help stand up for Lola and protect her.

Throughout the book, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the emphasis has been placed on beauty and sex. People who don’t fit into the culture such as Oscar are criticized leading to the consequent deaths as they try to fit in the bad culture. Understanding how the gender roles, as well as the society play in the book, allows for the better understanding of the characters and the choices to which they make, as each of the characters strived to be the best according to the Dominican standards, while also trying to achieve their happiness as well as personal identity. It is evident that the gender roles that are pushed to the men and women tend to be destructive and degrading as well. The book revolves around the culture along with its effects, and it seems as though the author, Junot Diaz is revealing to his audience the extent of destruction of the gender roles.

Work Cited

Brown, Isabel Zakrzewski. Culture and customs of the Dominican Republic. Westport, Conn: Greenwood, 1999. Print

Díaz, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. New York: Riverhead Books, 2007. Print.

Heiser, Kara. “Dominican Roots of Male Dominance.” Retrieved from internet on August 20 (2012): 2012.