I think you bring a very interesting point, although I wouldn't go as far as saying that the problem is the "same". Women in Latin countries can vote and drive. FGM is not a problem and women have rights. Now, is the equality between men and women really "equal"? No.
Here are two quick examples: You mention "machismo" I am Mexican and my parents have a somewhat traditional view in the role of women. My mom always cooks and then my dad sits and waits to be served. I find this tradition pathetic, but it is the way it works. The second example is from a Mexican family I met in New Mexico, the father cooked the dinner for the family and because of that he was praised. When a man cooks is to be praised, when a woman cooks is just the norm... and when a woman doesn't cook, it gets ugly.
It is very interesting the connection between Arab culture and Latin (Spanish) culture. I think that around one fourth of words in Spanish are Arab rooted words, typical Mexican food and art (the one that is very colorful) it is also original from Arab countries. A college professor jokes about a "Mexican Restaurant" in our city, which is an ultraconservative area with nearly 95% Christian. Its name is "Cocina de Guadalara: Typical Mexican Food". Guadalajara is a Mexican city, but look at this: The city is named after the Spanish city of Guadalajara, which came from the Andalusian Arabic name wād(i) l-ḥijāra (واد الحجارة or وادي الحجارة), the literal translation of the Iberian Arriaca, meaning "river/valley of stones".
He jokes that it should say "Typical Arabic Food". White old Republicans would freak out!
I personally have made little to no real difference in equal rights for today's women, despite strong feelings that females comprise the underrated, better half of humanity. However, I'm very happy with my kids and their friends practicing and expecting to keep making progress for women. How people rear kids can make a real difference.
Belle, It is amazing when you think about why we are how we are.
There would have been even more mixing of culture, but when the Reconquista was finally completed after centuries of wars, this is how the Christian soldiers felt about the Moors:
Of course the empires of Italy and Sicily had theirs occupations and wars against the Ottoman empire, and Venetian Architecture attests to the Turkish/Arab influence. Even Vienna fell to Suleiman and the Muslims.
As a latino man, and one raised in the United States, I don't get to see the dominant male, submissive female that I see in my country of birth, Puerto Rico. Then again my wife is of Serbian descent so I really never get to experience this submissive female. I was once married to a very strong willed woman from Columbia. There was nothing submissive about her.
When my wife was giving birth to our daughter there was a woman, next door, giving birth. She was latina. Her husband walked in and said, in a very loud voice, "hurry up and have this baby so we can go home. You have to take care of those other four kids". Well, I was mortified.
I don't see the Moor in as much as I see the African and the Arawak indian in latinos. Not to say that we don't resemble moor's. I've been confused for an Iraqi, even so far as to let a cabbie yak away before asking me if I was from Iraq. There is an image in an old National Geographic magazine depicting a young, green eyed Afghani girl looking right at the camera. It's a famous picture. She could be my sister. Spitting image. But looking at my family, all from the island of Puerto Rico, I can't help but see mostly African, Spaniard, and Taino Indian. If we think about it the very definition of the word Latino.
It's different. Someone once explained that in America racism's forms manifest themselves in animosity towards the persons ethnicity. In most of Latino America that's not usually the case. Latino's usually consider race and ethnicity one and the same. So a Puerto Rican or Cuban or Dominican of mostly African decent is discriminated for the color of his skin but not his ethnicity. He's still very much a Puerto Rican or a Cuban or a Dominican or a Panamanian whether he's of African, Incan, or Spaniard decent.
Argentina is a not a great example of a description of Latinos. Argentinia is the closes spanish speaking country to Spain in our hemisphere. Like Mexico, Argentina did not have the influx of African Slaves that most of Latin America saw. So the majority of the population is composed of people of Spanish and Arawak indian decent; but mostly Spaniards and Europeans.
My ex-wife was half British and half Colombian. She grew up with her very Colombian mother, a very dark skinned Colombian woman of mostly Arawak decent. She was very strong willed and a product of American inner city schools. She was very well versed in woman's issue and suffrage. Very independent. I admire her to this day. Just couldn't be married to her. Like "aceite y agua"....
Which, if we think about it, separates us Latinos more from our Moorish roots. Not too many females calling the shots in Islamic countries. In Latin America there's Argentina and Brazil. Can't think of many of other's.
Here's how race and norms sometimes collide. While on a visit to my late fathers house in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, I passed by a Chinese food restaurant. I turn around and go in. I've alway's ordered Chinese food in english back home. As far as I was concerned Chinese people that worked in Chinese Restaurants spoke Chinese and English. So I order Beef with Broccoli in English and the chinese guy behind the counter says to me, in perfect spanish with a Puerto Rican dialect, "Que es lo que quieres"(what do you want?). I stared at him for a minute and then apologized.
BTW: Wasent' that some sappy lovey dovey movie, "Like water for chocolate" ? LOL...
I sometimes cooked and my ex-wife sometimes cooked. Our 25 year old son tells me that she's still a lousy cook. Not that I'm any better. You're right though because I still see the Latino male attitude of "Me husband, you wife get your ass in the kitchen and cook". But that cave man mentality is in decline. I see less of it. As far as subservient wives in latino america that is also in decline, to a degree. As you pointed out teen pregnancy rates are among the highest in Latinos. As a consequence there are many young woman having to learn to raise their children by themselves.
My wife now, she loves to cook! She's not latina. She loves cooking so much I got her a new kitchen for her birthday!...LOL! (How latino of me!!! : ) My wife handles the finances and, when it comes to our daughter, I normally defer to her. You see, in the words of Clint Eastwoods Dirty Harry, "Man has to know his limitations".
I help out in the kitchen. It's fun sometimes.
Something to keep in mind Belle, Mexico is not representative of Latin America. In Dominican Republic the behavior of women serving food to men as an obligation is common on old folks but not really the norm anymore, food is made (usually the daughter) and everyone serve themselves. Women are perfectly capable of driving by themselves or with whoever they want to whenever they want and no eyebrows will be raised. Women have raise to power, women have been vice president nominees (some by nepotism, but still count) and, possibly, next election we'll have our first female president nominee (nepotism by someone that is better kept out of office). While macho is pretty much in effect, it is very diluted to how it was in my parent's type but the tendency is growing.
The only issue nowadays consist in the rise of passional crimes (PC as feminicide, mostly murder-suicide) by heartbroken lovers and women being the prime target of theft.
Also, in more broad terms. Argentina is leading women rights in LA, they even have a woman as president.
Ojala que si. I say this probably every day. The connection to the Islamic Moores who were in Spain 600 years ago and whose culture has been but all wiped out except for a few hundred words and some pillars and arabesques. A Spaniard has almost nothing in common with a Morrocan. A Latino has even less. The cultural traits brought by West African slaves have 1,000 times more influence on Latino culture than the all but gone moores of North Africa.
A woman in Guatamala faces the most harrowing trials of patience and courage. A woman in Yemen is chained to the kitchen and covered up for life in public...when she ever goes out...has less education than a kindergartner and is but a vagina, domestic slave and nanny.
Latino women in some countries are not far behind European women. In other Latino countries they are making horrifically slow progress. They are hopefully literate now, have marginal influence in their household, and can sheild their children and have control over the household budget.
The tiniest progress in Pakistan or Oman that took years can be wiped out in a day when radicalism washes over. Because it says so in a book.
A Latino women wouldn't even recognise a woman in Iraq or Afghanistan. They would have nothing in common and their oppression would be like comparing apples to oranges.
I think most of us can agree that the only thing wrong with sex roles is when they are expected and enforced. If a couple decides that they want one of them to be a stay-at-home parent and that—for whatever reasons that make sense to them—they decide that the husband should be the one to go to work daily and the woman should be the primary childcare person, that's their right and it's really nobody's business but theirs.
One can argue that the woman is giving up career-building years of her life, but couldn't we say the same about the man if he is the one staying home?
Now, let me bring up something obvious which, nevertheless, tends to be controversial in some circles, which is that men and women, as the product of millions of years of evolution and as such tend to have some ingrained, inherited, hard-wired tendencies and talents which result in common sex roles.
When I say these sex roles are common, I don't mean to say that biology is destiny, for we can, where we wish, defy these roles. However, it's no one's duty to defy them.
One of the unfortunate effects of the rise of feminism in the 1960's and 1970's was that women seemed to feel an obligation to pursue a career outside the home whether they wanted one or not, and to measure their success in terms of their pursuits outside the home.
My ex went though that period. She is very smart and got an MS in computer science, and became a well-paid engineer with a talent for reading machine code (1's and 0's). She pursued this career while our daughter grew up.
About that time, she quit that job and married a friend (we had been divorced for a while by the time that happened). Now, she hardly spends any time online and certainly does no software engineering.
I kind of wonder if she now feels her career years would have been better spent being at home to be closer to our daughter.
I don't know if it's still the case, but when I was growing up in the Cleveland, Ohio, area, there was junior and senior high school, no middle school, at least in the public school system.
You're an example of how females are wired a little different from males.
Someone said (and of course this is one of those gross generalizations with a shade of truth in it) that, "A woman will make a hut for her family and move into it and turn it into a home. A man will make a hut for his family, help them move in, and then go and build another hut."
Perhaps you could look at a different, unrelated culture in which women are also oppressed and compare. It's a difficult and complex task to sufficiently well control for enough factors that you can isolate real causes from coincidences.