Special Topic: Machismo
I would like to begin this post by saying I am still madly in love with Argentina and am more than prepared to sell my return flight ticket and pursue a future as a porteña. However, now that I am reaching my one month anniversary in Buenos Aires, I wanted to write a post about a topic with a bit more substance than my usual “this is what I did” type deal.Machismo. When I told friends and family back home that I was going to be studying abroad in Argentina, nearly everyone mentioned, in some form or another, the machismo culture I would encounter. So I was prepared for catcalls and whistles and even unwanted advancements. But what I wasn’t prepared for was just how scary it all could be.I spent last summer interning in Midtown Manhattan, so I’m familiar with big city practices. But unlike the inappropriate comments I received in New York, here in Buenos Aires, I have no idea what they’re saying. The leer is the same, the whistles are identical, but the words are muffled and consist of terminology I have never studies in the classroom. And that’s actually very intimidating. I’ve managed to bypass the majority of it by making sure I’m always walking with a male friend (which, conceptually, is problematic to me because the sexual harassment only goes away when a male is present. Seriously, I’ve been with four or five girls and we still receive comments, but once a male is around, nothing.)This male strength actually brings me to my next point of this post, which is the famously Argentine tango. Now, let me preface what I am about to say by mentioning how much I love to dance. Any type of dance … or so I thought. IFSA arranged for the kids on my program to have tango lessons this past Friday, and I was intrigued. But honestly? Didn’t love it. The dance itself is fine — a little technical and rigid for my taste, but to each his own. For me, the problem came with the class’ atmosphere.Like any girl who has ever been to a middle school dance, the lesson began with more girls than guys. Our female instructor, an Argentina, promptly informed us females that we have two options: wait for the men to pick us or go out there and chase one.Okay.Option one simply offended me because I had hoped to be beyond the point in my life where my physical appearance was all that mattered (which was essentially how these guys were judging because of the 30 or so males present, only 6 or so were from IFSA and knew me as an individual.) And option two irritated me. I have made it this far without fighting girls for a man’s attention, so I’m not about to start now. I danced a couple rounds with my North American friends, but beyond that, I spent the majority of my night chatting with the other girls who, for whatever reason, had opted out of a spin on the dance floor. All in all, not my best night here, but luckily I have many more to come.