Is the struggle of the women in Islamic countries the same as Latino women?

I have dedicated my entire adult life to the study of Spanish culture, grammar, literature, linguistics, and history. I married a man from Mexico. And I remain in my spare time continually curious, fascinated, and in awe of everything I learn. My initial primary area of interest when I started graduate studies was to pursue research in the area of the linguistic heritage and oral traditions of the southwest United States, mainly New Mexico. The Spanish spoken in Northern New Mexico (and the culture) is beautiful, and unique to the Spanish spoken everywhere else on the planet. Since I suspect my own biological roots may have in part come from this region it was something I was (still am) passionate about.

Every now and then I make connections about something new in pursuit of my own studies, (on my own) and tonight I made another one....

I am connected to the "Latinos" in my community and was invited to a party. When my friend said in passing conversation, "Ojala que si." (Which is like saying, "May Allah make it so"'s a totally Arabic derivitive.")....I remembered sophomore year, History of Spain, etc etc....I remembered the immense influence the moorish culture has had on the Spanish culture in every way and then I started thinking deeper about the implications of this for the United States......and really honestly for myself. It was a realization how I MYSELF in my thinking, attitudes about family, my prior religious fervor, the way I acted towards my husband, the way I still think and act today, and the way the United States Latino community is shaping the future of our country without realizing how much of who "we" are, how much of who "I" am is....well......Arabic!

Anyone on TA who has known me for a while knows I am deeply passionate about helping women escape, learn, understand, prevent, and overcome any form of abuse. It is sort of my new mission in life, lol. While much of what we think as women is shaped by our current (or former) religious attitudes, I would also argue that a great deal of what we think is a result from our cultural upbringing as well, which is largely how we form attitudes towards normative behavior in "our" own culture. For those of us who have superceeded our culture and become atheists in the face of the many ways we are warned against that as an acceptable world view makes the many Atheist women reading this right now extremely strong and empowered no matter what part of the globe you live on.

So after this long winded introduction to the actual discussion, I am going to provide a link to a video of a missionary talking about "evangelizing" North Africa with "Latinos," ....

So I am wondering a few things:

1. Isn't it ironic that even though most Latinos are either Catholic, Christian, or Jewish, that their entire culture is based on Arab roots which are Muslim?

2. If the United Stated gets to the point that Latinos are the majority would that make us a "Christian nation" with primarily Muslim cultural influence?

3. For women who identify as Latino/Hispanic/Chicana...whatever you call yourself do you as a woman feel the negative aspects of your culture and realize that they are SO similar to the same struggles women in the Arab world face? Or do you believe that the "Marianismo/Catolicismo" mentality has counteracted the oppression? Deepened it? Confused it? Or do you even see a connection worth pondering?

I can give an example to bring this to life:..."Machismo."

Most Latino men are "macho." The dominant expectations of men are very similar to that of Arab men and the way they carry themselves physically is also similar. In a marriage many women have "Ni voto ni voz," (neither a vote or a say) and the husband makes....ALL the decisions if he wants to. There is immense pressure to have a LOT of kids. (I got this from my ex-husband's family.).....I could go on and on. I'm wondering if any Atheist women from this culture have additional insights.

So this discussion is meant to be multi-faceted in discussing the connection of the Latino/Spanish culture worldwide, and the Arab culture....and the religious and/or cultural attitudes and standards that exist, particularly to how it affects the women.

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 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".[7] 

He jokes that it should say "Typical Arabic Food". White old Republicans would freak out!

YES!!!!!!!! Oh it gets so much deeper than that! Elon, de que parte eres?

So while the struggle is maybe "not as severe" because of what you bring up........there are lots of ways that what actually happens is different. I can think of more examples:

1. What you say about the woman serving the man his food, I myself have that same attitude. I was glad to do it for my husband and it was expected for sure when we were with family. He however "wouldn't let me." This ended up being a source of humiliation for me in front of his family..........anyway

2. Driving. Ok yes women "legally can" drive. But the entire time I was married I "wasn't allowed" to if I went anywhere with my husband. Oh and BTW it was a RARE occasion that I would "get" to go somewhere without him unless I was going to work. He went everywhere with me. Therefore Iiterally almost never drove except to go to work.

I seriously could go on all day, but I'll stop here thus far with my own "personal" stories.....

One more thought. While women do have rights in Latin America, how it is lived out is completely different. I grew up in New Mexico. Domestic violence is the norm there and most people unless they are educated do not realize it is abuse. "It is just the way it is." I think the same is true in Muslim countries. Women do not realize they are being abused due to lack of education and "it's just the way it is."

I was very fortunate to have grown up in an educated "white" family because I am adopted. But I CHOSE to. Immerse myself full-fledged into the Hispanic culture not realizing that the very attitudes I was adopting for myself are the attitudes and belief systems that oppress women. And because my own family didn't (and still doesn't) fully understand the culture, they are completely blind to how it still affects me. But it's become who I am. Changing it now is very hard and in many ways I don't even "want" to. I think that could be true for many women. Even in the face of recognizing that their own "traditional" views are oppressive, they would still prefer to remain "traditional." But then the question becomes, "How does a woman stay true to her traditions and still command respect by her husband?"..............if I WANT to serve my husband his food because I take pride in doing so, will I only be attracting a man that feels "entitled" to it therefore is equally as oppressive towards me as my ex-husband is? Is there any such thing as a man who holds traditional values that also respects equality?

Can traditional roles in the Latino culture coincide with equality and "non-violent" or healthy respect towards women? To fight the abuse towards women in Latin America do we need to first address "Catholicism" as the primary culprit, or the culturally inherited attitudes that have been formed in part by Islamic traditions?


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.

The Moors were amazing. This article give insight as to the positive influences of their presence.

Oh yah, (side note) don't forget "Algebra" - TOTALLY Arabic invention AND linguistically rooted in Arabic. They were the math geniuses of the age....

I seriously wonder if the oppression faced by the Moors by the Christians gave away to the rise of Islam the way we know it today. I am not that well read on this aspect of history since my primary area of focus has been elsewhere, but it sure would explain the deep-seeded hatred towards Christians and why we are referred to as "The Great Satan" by believers of Islam. Without understanding that the oppression of progress (and academia, and LOGIC) by the Christians is the real root of the original strife faced by the Moors. It's ironic that the counter weight belief system resulted in a worldview that is now MORE oppressive towards women, and ultimately causing the same type of harm to their own people.

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.


@Noel: I'm guessing (you certainly don't have to answer this)......that your columbian esposa....(Oh YAH.....did you know that also means "handcuffs" lol) may be from the more "Spaniard" descent within columbia. Columbia was part of the Encomienda/Hacienda transition and the caste system and of course the civil war they have gone through have divided the people based on their looks. Even to this day all across Latin America it is seen as "more beautiful" to have lighter hair, blue eyes, and light skin because of the encomiendas imposed by conquistadores. Sometimes I think the only reason my ex-husband married me was because I have blue eyes and light skin, lol. It's interesting that while it is seen by many people in Latin America as more beautiful to have light features, one is also heavily discriminated against for being that way, thus the term "wero/wera.". My ex still calls our son "wero." It's not necessarily seen as derogatory, but it's certainly a racist attitude that prevails to this day.

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"....

BTW Noel I absolutely LOVE PR!!!!!!!!!!! Please tell me they didn't ever build that godawful gas pipe right smack down the island and destroy the precious "coqui" habitat! I would keep one as a pet if I could just for the sound......and they are SO CUTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Googled it:

Whew! Thank goodness. I hope they don't bring that one back!
@Noel: RE 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.

You put it very well. I cannot think of aa better way to describe that!! Thanks!!!

Como aceite e agua,..........Como agua para chocolate! Ha! LOL!!!!!!!!!


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