Slowly I have been meeting Chilean bloggers that I really like, people who have something in common with me. These meetings started with Kyle and talking to her online via our blogs for about 10 months before meeting in person. Once I did meet her, I also met others as she seems to be the queen bee of Gringas married to Chileans online. Anyway, this week Kyle decided, via a suggestion from Heather, that we should all do posts on the same topic on the same day. This will be our first, the topic is Chilean men.
To tell the truth, I am not sure what to say about this topic. I have known many over the years in a variety of ways: boyfriends, host fathers, host family (brother, cousins, uncles), friends, teachers, strangers, and drunk men in bars. I guess the first thing I am wary of is making generalizations. For example, I would say generally that Chilean men are very sexist. For example, I have a (host) uncle who has a habit of telling me that I really need a macho man in my life. The implication is that this way I would learn my place in the world. I always respond that I would like to see someone try to put me in my place that way!
Several months ago I went to a dance club with some friends. I was the only one not in a couple there. Dancing with the group, another man came up to ask me to dance. I told him in no unclear terms that I really wasn’t interested and that I was happily dating someone else. He said he didn’t care, that he too was dating someone, and he just wanted to dance. He danced with me for the rest of the night at a respectful distance; we barely spoke. At the end of the night, he did ask for my number. I reminded him that I was dating someone and uninterested in a relationship or romance, but I did give him my real number. It seemed the right thing to do as he had been a gentleman. He called twice. Both times I was on the phone or out with friends and told him I couldn’t speak. Admittedly, the first time he called I didn’t even remember his name– his name is Cristian. After the second time, he sent the following text (or something very similar):
You a very pretty, but very mean. I am not going to waste anymore time on you!
The sense of entitlement was infuriating. I had done nothing to lead him on and yet he oozed a macho attitude that claimed I owed him something.
Another aspect of Chilean culture and Chilean men is the difficulty of creating and maintaining relationships between males and females. I have been told repeatedly by Chileans (both male and female) that friendships between men and women are impossible because there is always sexual tension and that the basis of any friendship is always one side wanting more. Heather also has touched on this here in her blog, although she also focuses on the difficulties of female-female friendships in Chile. While I have successfully maintained multiple friendships with men in the US, I have definitely struggled more with this in Chile. The male friendships that I have in Chile are always described as “sister-like”. My ex-roommate, Lu, who is one of my best friends, always refers to me as a sister figure. This is sweet and we have a great, playful, honest relationship. But, the terming, also demonstrates how there is little space for female-male friendship between the non-related.
That being said, I have many examples of men in Chile who do not fill this code. S is possibly more feminist then I am. He is outspoken and friendly. He maintains multiple, longterm friendships with women. He doesn’t see women or wives as property. Lu recognizes and articulates many of the ways in which he is macho in his outlook. How he is jealous and sometimes controlling. He also articulates the need for women to have sexual freedom and control over their lives. M, a friend I have through Lu, wants to go to the States and become a sex therapist– a profession he sees a sorely lacking in Chile. He talks freely about how Chilean society teaches girls and boys that they can’t be friends, that friendship is impossible. He complains at how both sexes are shuffled off into their own boxes and not free to explore specific themes. Girls are not supposed to play sports or ask boys out. Boys are not supposed to explore their emotions. Both genders are crippled by this.
Other blogs that are participating (I will update to the specific link as the show up and list the title of the post, ones without title are just blogs that promised to participate):