Add Bookmark   Advertising Information   Contact Us  

Articles Home - Machismo and the Dominican Republic
More alarming is the high rate of domestic violence in the Dominican Republic that can be clearly connected to the idea of machismo, and highly aggressive male behavior. It is unclear how many women are abused by their husbands each year. No estimate can ever be fully accurate. Women who are abused rarely report it because they are scared of the repercussions, but also because the legal system in place rarely enforces laws that are meant to protect women. The lack of legal recourse in essence aids the continued development of machista behavior because men will not be punished for their actions.

Machismo plays itself out in other ways in the Dominican Republic. If a woman walks in front of a group of men it is almost guaranteed that there will be whistling and commentary aimed at the woman. At times it is more in order to impress the other men in the group, than it is to gain the attention of the lady walking by.

Machismo also manifests itself in another more violent and dangerous way. Being a “coward” is looked down upon, so a “real” man must fight in order to uphold his honor and status as a man. If he doesn’t do this he faces ridicule for being “weak.” A man in the Dominican Republic can never be seen as less of a man. An example of these forms of machismo playing themselves out at the same time can be seen at discos or night spots. A man may make a comment towards a woman, or even attempt to grab her in an inappropriate way, even if she has a boyfriend. In order to defend “his” woman, and protect his image as a man, the boyfriend will confront the person who has bothered his woman, and this usually leads to a fight.

Equally disturbing is how machismo’s manifestation is defined through the lack of social acceptance of homosexuality. Homosexuality is a social taboo in the country, but in the truest sense, homosexuality starkly contrasts anything that is considered manly. Making fun of homosexuals or even just ignoring their presence is further proof that to be a man in the Dominican Republic is more than just a person’s biology, but what he does and thinks. In certain aspects to befriend a person who is homosexual may cast a suspicious light on a person, even if they are heterosexual, as homosexuality “lessens” the degree of masculinity a person can have.

In the workplace there is also the presence of the machista attitude. Sexual harassment in the workplace is common, and there is little enforcement of laws that protect women against this type of behavior. Since the power structure on the country is mostly in the hands of men, it is difficult for women to get equal consideration either in the workplace or in the judicial system. Even if a woman reports incidents of sexual harassment it is rarely considered as anything serious, and not much is done. In some cases a woman might be dismissed from her job because she is seen as a troublemaker, and ultimately there is nothing she can do because she has no legitimate legal recourse of action.

Politics is another clear manifestation of the machista attitude. Politics in the Dominican Republic is a “good old boys club” with most political posts held by men. Though there are women working with the political system at large, the presence of women is minor. Even when women are elected to political office they struggle to find their niches, as their merits are constantly challenged by their male counterparts. They inevitably have to work twice as hard in order to get the respect of their colleagues, and work just as hard to get their agendas heard.

A change in ideologies with the advent of the 21st century has created more opportunities for women, but the change in the machismo attitude is slow in the coming. Of the many changes occurring within Dominican society, this one will be the slowest to come. In 2003, then Vice President, Milagros Ortiz Bosch, was considered to be a potential candidate for the Presidency of the Dominican Republic. Impressive, considering the country she was in, but the Dominican Republic is still not ready for a female to have such power. It is still strictly a sexist country. Since most people feel this way it makes it more difficult to change existing points of view. Things have changed though, and there are organizations, both local and international, that have taken on the responsibility of making people understand what machismo is, and how it affects life on a day to day basis, but it will be a united movement from the female population that can change the machista attitudes in the country.

The aggressive machismo that permeates through the behaviors of men is not recognized as a result of a social structure, but as a biological result. This is considered by many, both men and women, as just the way things are, which makes it even more difficult to understand at times.
<-- Previous Page  
Daily News Archive  Message Board Archive

The contents of this webpage are copyright 1996-2015.  DR1. All Rights Reserved.