Tag Archives: machismo

Cuban Novio, Cuban Boyfriend

By far, the majority of my traffic centers around these search terms.  That worried me.  It says that there’s a need.  There are these women out there with Cuban boyfriends, or wanting them, and not knowing how to handle it.  What to buy them, how to get one, how to know if they’re cheating, what to feed them, when to believe them.  I didn’t just put those thoughts into people’s heads, they’re all very real search terms I see all the time.

Here’s the thing: I’ve never had a novio cubano, for a variety of reasons.

If you want to know what it’s like, read Whitney’s series Adventures with a Cuban Boy over at her blog On Love and Other Things.  She has great prose, genuine thoughts and enchanting pictures.  And more importantly, she has the experience.

I won’t talk about other people’s experience, but I cant talk about mine.  Here are a few posts I’ve written on the male/female dynamic in Cuba, from the perspective of a young, white American foreigner.

I had a hard time with the novio thing in Cuba.  I’m a girl who’s used to having close guy friends, and a few good circles of guys to spend time with.  I’m also used to people finding out I have a boyfriend and respecting that, rather than trying to make me forget or “live in the moment.”  I’ve taken a bit of crap from fellow travelers for disliking some of the attention I get when abroad, but I don’t think anyone should have to put up with harassment, and I think everyone has the capacity to understand boundaries, even if they are foreign to them.

I really hated that it was hard to have platonic friends in Cuba.  I felt I had to keep my guard up; any time I didn’t, I noticed not-so-subtle behavior changes, or I heard about my “blossoming relationship” later from other friends.  Many who travel short term to Cuba, or who don’t leave the resorts, never experience this.  I’m curious how other extended visitors found things to be.  Most Cuban guys, in their own words, told me that unless my novio was on the island, it didn’t matter.

This all probably sounds really stuck up.  And I’m sure people will claim that the guys had one reason or another for continually deciding to ignore my” just friends” mantra.  But I don’t think that sitting next to one of my guy friends for a couple innings at a baseball game and honestly calling him a childish idiot for blowing up condom balloons constitutes flirting.

I hate being told to” live in the moment.”  Especially when I know they don’t mean my moment, they mean theirs.  I hate being told to stop thinking, to stop being so serious.  This is not How Delia Got her Groove back.  I’m 21; I have groove.  I hate that for so many guys, their only interpretation of fun was getting drunk and flirting with white women, and having them buy dinner.  I hate that so many white women for decades before me had already set the precedent that this was true and okay.

Sometimes going to other countries, ones with even stricter gender roles than ours, reminds me just how little I fit my gender.  I stick out as ornery and a run for everyone’s money in the states–imagine how that comes across in a Muslim or machismo society (the two are more similar than you’d think).

I believe I have the right to dance however I want with my friends and not get touched by strangers.  And yes, I understand respecting customs and the importance of context.  It isn’t so big a deal if you’re somewhere for a week or a few days, or if you’re constantly surrounded by western backpackers.  But after a few months in a foreign country where you can’t let you guard down or go out with just women, it gets awfully lonely.  That’s all.

Buen Dia de las Mujeres

Today is Women’s Day, something I honestly had never heard of until Maria’s breakfast rant today.  We’ve been getting “felicitaciones” all day from men walking past us, and even some freshly picked flowers.  What exactly are we being congratulated for, though?  Being born female instead of male?  Opting not to switch genders (which is covered by Cuban health care, by the way)?  Although I must say, the more time I spend here, the more I think of being a Cubana as an accomplishment of some kind.

“Are you a woman, or a book?”
-Leonardo, Cecilia

“A woman can bear anything but curiosity”
Cecilia

“You can fix the worst things here with drums and beer”
-Rachel, La Bella del Alhambre

“A woman in politics is like a man in the kitchen”
Clandestinos

“You want to take care of all the problems in the world, but what about your husband and house?”
Retrato de Teresa

“It is good to have what you do acknowledged.”
Retrato de Teresa

“Because I’m the man of the house, forget about your little job.”
Retrato de Teresa

“There’s one law for women and another law for men.”
Retrato de Teresa

“But I’m a man, it’s different!”
Retrato de Teresa

“Learn to clench your teeth…like your mama did.”
-Teresa’s mother, after admonishing her daughter for wanting equality, Retrato de Teresa

“I don’t care what they say, a woman is a woman and a man is a man.  Not even Fidel can change that.”
-Teresa’s mother, Retrato de Teresa

“Your husband and children aren’t enough, you always wanted to be you, too”
Teresa’s husband, Retrato de Teresa

“If I look for her again, I’m not a man.”
Fresa y chocolate

“There are functions for men and functions for women.  This is not the function of women.”
-Hector Perez, speaking of women and tambores (playing the religious drums)

“What are you doing to celebrate Women’s Day?”
“Working, of course.”
-Maria

And I leave you with this, from Brittan:
“But when is Men’s Day?”