I’m the first to admit – I don’t cook. I do the necessary to survive, but I leave the real cooking to my husband and other people who know what they are doing. And I’m not the only Latina with this “problem”: my friend Libby wrote about how the lack of passion for cooking makes people doubt our “Latinaness”, because one of the characteristics that go hand in hand with being Latina, is a passion for cooking: Mi abuela used to clap her hands in joy whenever I cooked or baked something at home, saying, “ahora te podes casar” (now you can get married). I did get married recently, but my cooking skills had little to do with it.
Growing up, mi abuela and my father often celebrated the things that in their eyes made me a traditional latina, a traditional woman: to cook, to take care of the household and tend to the family, to look feminine, to listen to the man of the house… I tried for a long time to please my family and be good at these things, but I had this uncomfort growing inside me, a feeling that life wasn’t supposed to be centered around these things. And I questioned it, and I revolted. Being shushed because a man doesn’t agree with me or doesn’t like what I have to say was not how my mother raised me, and for that I am forever thankful to her. But not fitting into the role strained the relationships with that part of the family.
Latinas, and women in general, of today are so much more than the traditonal roles of those who came before us (much thanks to courageous women who cleared the path for us), but that doesn’t mean that we don’t often face the same struggles, the same hardships and the same prejudices. Women who don’t fit into the role, who want more and want to go their own ways, will often have to face the question if they are women enough.
But that’s not the question that really matters, or that even matters a little…