Monthly Archives: December 2010

A guy’s perspective, in his words

This is my translation of a little questionnaire (full of random questions, whatever popped into my mind at the moment) I sent to an Argentine guy who I respect and admire a lot. Below I thought it would be nice to share his original answers, because I think the sociology student is oh so wise and eloquent despite his 25 years. Of course, this is just one person’s opinion, so if you speak Spanish check out the comments on the post below for some other ones. Maybe this can be a series – I’ll send the same questions to different guys and see what happens. ūüôā

Q: What is a “hysterical” woman? What’s she like? Why is she like that? Is there a “hysterical” man?

A: In reality a hysterical woman is characterized by being “unbalanced.” She doesn’t keep a way of being balanced, her opinion and mood are permanently changing. Suddenly she’s great and feels like doing something, and before you know it she’s pissed off and doesn’t want to. You’re chatting and it’s going well, but something bothered her and that’s it, you’re screwed. Pissy, bad vibes, indirect, everything together. We usually use the word “histerica” with a sexual connotation, like it seems that everything’s going to be ok and she’s into you, but then she tells you no, she doesn’t want anything to happen and she was just messing with your mind, sometimes intentionally because of her personality, or other times unintentionally. You know? Between men we usually say…”leave that one, she seems pretty but she’s crazy histerica.” The hysterical man also exists, he has more or less the same characteristics. But it’s an adjective applied far more to women than to men, clearly because of the imposition of a machista society that gives names (like histerica, loca, puta, etc) much more to women than to men.

Q: What’s up with those guys who send you millions of text messages, call you all the time, and tell you they love you after just one date??

A: I think they’re men who don’t have a good group of friends, or don’t feel secure with themselves, or just can’t be alone. So when a woman appears, a girl, a date, they think they can solve everything and dedicate themselves one hundred percent to that, taking everything faster than they should. If you’re sure of yourself and have achieved the ability to be ok alone (which isn’t easy, it’s a hard job and many times very sad) you’re going to wait to do that type of thing, and you’re not going to be annoying and send 1000 text messages. Women hate annoying men!!

Q: What do Argentine men think about European or North American women?

A: European and North American women usually stand out more by being different from the norm, and they’re attractive because they fit with the standards of beauty we often have (blond, white skin, etc.). In terms of personality, we don’t know much, but it’s usually thought that they’re colder than Argentine women. With Europeans the conception of the women differs a lot depending on what country she’s from. With North Americans there’s an idea that either they’re reserved and conservative, or the exact opposite: parties, a lot of alcohol, and sex with any guy who’s around. There are a lot of stereotypes and prejudices about this, based mainly on ignorance about how women in other countries really are.

Q: Explain the difference between men who cheat and those who don’t. What causes it?

A: I think the principal difference between those who cheat and those who don’t comes from everything you lived and the example you had at home, the things you learned since you were little. I’ve noticed that when people cheat it’s because their peers didn’t impress certain ideas on them, or because there was cheating in the family past, and sometimes that reproduces itself. But to say that is to reduce to just one idea something that’s far more complex. I think it has to do with what you’re looking for in life, and with what you can be happy; and how much you value the happiness that you achieve. There are people who don’t conform and cheat. There are people who cheat to feel secure, people who cheat because they’re a bad person, people who do it for fun or because they like sex too much and can’t avoid cheating. There are people who aren’t happy or satisfied with the person they have at their side, so they look to cheat. And at the other end of the spectrum are those who are happy with the person they have at their side, and value her and respect her, and don’t feel the need or the desire to cheat. It sounds corny but it’s the truth. You can be happy with just one person, you don’t need anything else, no one else matters to you.

Q: Where does one go to meet other young people? How did your friends or family members meet their boyfriends/girlfriends? How long have they been together?

A: ¬†You meet other young people in the places you go every day (university, school, work, neighborhood) or in an activity you do (clubs, tango, going out to dance). I know almost all my friends from high school, the rest from the university. I don’t really have friends from the neighborhood anymore because five years ago I moved, and then I didn’t see them anymore. I have friends who’ve been seeing their girlfriends for 3 years, 4 years, 2 years; that varies according to each relationship. The relationships of my friends are usually lasting, not short.

Q: What is the most romantic love story you know among your acquaintances?

A: The most romantic story I know is that of my parents, who belonged to different social classes (my dad was the son of laborers and my mom was from a middle/upper class family). They met and began to go out. My mom’s family didn’t like my dad, so they decided to just get married and take the plunge and live together. My mom left all the money she had and all the comforts to be with my dad, who had NOTHING and was an employee in a shop. They went on until they didn’t even have enough money to put clothes on our backs, and then they decided to go for it and open their own business, working together every day of their lives, and luckily it went well for them.

Q: Do you think that you and I have significant cultural differences? What are they? Do you think we can overcome them?

A: I don’t think we have important cultural differences. In the first months we didn’t know what differences there might be, and we talked about all of them. There are some, but nothing that I think is important for our relationship. They’re just differences of custom, food, language, nothing too big.

Q: Having been in the U.S., what difference do you see with Argentina in terms of relationships between men and women?

A: A difference that you noticed once is important. Here we value women more, she’s admired and like a treasure that must be conquered. In the U.S. that doesn’t happen. Men in the U.S. are the center and women are just something that can be added to his life, but the man is still “the most important”. Here, it’s the woman who has control.

Q: Do you think language is a problem? Sometimes? How?

A: Language is maybe the biggest problem. Because you have to be thinking all day in another language, and that’s tiring. Maybe with custom it stops being so hard, but to me it seems like a problem that requires a lot of willpower to get over it.

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La perspectiva del hombre: En sus palabras

Ac√° contesta un hombre argentino que respeto y admiro¬†mucho unas preguntas m√≠as acerca de varios temas. M√°s tarde traduzco todo al ingl√©s y escribo unos comentarios mas. Pero, porque el estudiante de sociolog√≠a es tan sabio y elocuente a pesar de sus 25 a√Īos, me pareci√≥ lindo compartir tambi√©n sus palabras exactas.

1. Que es una mujer histérica? Cómo es? Por que es así? Existe el hombre histérico?

En realidad una mujer hist√©rica se caracteriza por ser ‚Äúdesequilibrada‚ÄĚ. No mantiene una forma de ser equilibrada, siempre est√° cambiando de opini√≥n o de estado de √°nimo, permanentemente. De repente est√° muy bien y tiene ganas de algo, y de golpe tiene cara de orto o no quiere. O en una charla viene todo bien, algo le molest√≥ y chau, cagaste. Cara de culo, mala onda, indirectas, todo junto. Se suele usar la palabra hist√©rica con una connotaci√≥n sexual, o sea, que parece que va a estar todo bien o que parece que te tira buena onda, y despu√©s dice que no o no tiene ganas de que pase nada y solo estaba histeriqueandote, intencionalmente a veces, por personalidad y sin intenci√≥n otras. Se entiende? Entre los hombres se suele decir‚Ķ ‚Äúdejala a esa, se hace la linda y es una hist√©rica de mierda‚Ä̂ĶTambi√©n existe el hombre hist√©rico, tiene m√°s o menos las mismas caracter√≠sticas. Igual es un adjetivo mucho mas aplicado a mujeres que a hombres, claramente por la imposici√≥n de una sociedad machista que etiqueta mucho m√°s a las mujeres que a los hombres.

2. Que les pasa a esos hombres que te mandan millones de mensajes de texto, llaman todo el tiempo, te dicen que te quieren después de una cita sola??

Creo que son hombres que tienen una falta de contención de un grupo de amigos o falta de seguridad en si mismos, o que no están bien estando solos. Por eso cuando aparece una mujer, una chica, una cita, creen que pueden solucionar todo y dedicarse 100% a eso, apurando los tiempos que hay que respetar. Si estás seguro de vos mismo y logras estar bien solo (no es fácil, es un trabajo difícil y muchas veces muy triste) vas a esperar para hacer ese tipo de cosas, y no vas a mandar 1000 mensajes de texto, volviéndote molesto. Las mujeres odian los hombres molestos!!

3. Que piensan los hombres argentinos de las mujeres europeas o norteamericanas?

Las mujeres europeas o norteamericanas suelen llamar m√°s la atenci√≥n por ser diferentes a lo habitual, y suelen gustar porque responden al patr√≥n de belleza que se suele tener (rubias, piel blanca, etc.). De la personalidad no se sabe mucho, pero se suele pensar que son m√°s fr√≠as que las argentinas. Las europeas var√≠a mucho la concepci√≥n de la mujer seg√ļn qu√© pa√≠s sea. Con las norteamericanas hay como una idea de que son reservadas y conservadoras o todo lo contrario: fiestas, mucho alcohol y sexo con cualquier chico que ande por ah√≠. Hay mucho estereotipo y mucho prejuicio alrededor de todo esto, basado en ignorancia sobre como realmente son las mujeres en otros pa√≠ses.

4. Explica la diferencia entre los hombres que enga√Īan y los que no. Por que existe la diferencia??

Creo que la principal diferencia entre los enga√Īan y los que no nace de todo lo que viviste y el ejemplo que tuviste en tu casa, y fuiste aprendiendo desde chiquito. Me suele pasar que las personas que enga√Īan son porque los pares no inculcaron ciertas ideas o porque hubo enga√Īos tambi√©n en el pasado familiar, y a veces eso se reproduce. Pero decir solo eso es reducir a una idea algo que es mucho m√°s complejo. Creo que tiene que ver con lo que uno busca en la vida y con que es feliz, y cuanto valor le da a esa felicidad que logra. Hay gente que no se conforma y enga√Īa. Hay gente que enga√Īa para sentir seguridad, hay gente que enga√Īa porque son mala gente, hay gente que lo hace por diversi√≥n o gente que le gusta demasiado el sexo y no puede evitar enga√Īar, hay gente que no est√° feliz o satisfecha con la persona que tiene al lado y busca enga√Īar. Y en la otra vereda est√°n los que son felices con la persona que tienen al lado y la valoran y la respetan, y no tienen necesidad ni ganas de andar enga√Īando. Suena cursi pero es la pura verdad. Podes ser feliz con una sola persona, y no necesitas nada mas, no te importa nadie m√°s.

6. Adonde se va a conocer otros jóvenes? Como se conocieron tus amigos/familiares sus novios? Cuanto tiempo estuvieron juntos?

Se conoce otros j√≥venes en los √°mbitos que frecuentas cada d√≠a (universidad, colegio, barrio, trabajo) o alguna actividad que hagas (clubes, tango, salir a bailar). Yo a mis amigos los conozco a casi todos de la escuela secundaria, al resto de la facultad. No conservo amigos del barrio porque me mud√© de casa hace 5 a√Īos, y los que tenia no los vi m√°s. Tengo amigos que est√°n de novios hace 3 a√Īos, 4 a√Īos, 2 a√Īos, eso var√≠a seg√ļn cada relaci√≥n. Los noviazgos de mis amigos suelen ser duraderos, no son cortos.

7. Cu√°l es la historia mas rom√°ntica de amor que conoces entre tus conocidos?

La historia mas romántica que conozco es la de mis papas, que pertenecían a distintas clases sociales (mi papa era hijo de obreros y mi mama de una familia de clase media/alta) y se conocieron  y empezaron a salir. A la familia de mi mama no les gustaba mi papa, así que decidieron casarse y animarse a irse a vivir juntos. Mi mama dejó de lado toda la plata que tenia y todas las comodidades por estar con mi papá, quien no tenía NADA  de plata y era un empleado en un comercio. Hasta que cuando ya no tenían más plata ni para vestirnos a nosotros, decidieron animarse a abrir un negocio propio, trabajando los 2 juntos todos los días de su vida, y por suerte les fue bien.

8. Pensas que tenemos (nosotros, vos y yo) diferencias culturales importantes? Cu√°les son? Pensas que son superables?

No creo que tengamos diferencias culturales importantes entre nosotros. Los primeros meses no sabíamos muy bien que diferencias podía haber, y las hablamos todas. Hay algunas, pero no creo que sean nada importantes para nuestra relación. Son simples diferencias de costumbres, comidas, idioma, nada muy importante.

9. Habiendo estado en EEUU, que diferencia ves con Argentina en términos de las relaciones de hombres y mujeres?

Es importante una diferencia que una vez vos dijiste. Ac√° se valora mucho a la mujer, se la admira y es como un tesoro a conquistar. En EEUU no pasa eso. Los hombres en Estados Unidos son el centro y la mujer es solo algo que puede sumarse a su vida, pero el hombre sigue siendo ‚Äúel m√°s importante‚ÄĚ. Ac√° es la mujer la que tiene el control.

10. Pensas que el idioma es un problema? A veces? Como?

El idioma es tal vez el mayor problema. Porque tenes que estar todo el día pensando en otro idioma, y eso es cansador. Tal vez con la costumbre deja de ser tan difícil, pero a mí me parece que es un problema que requiere mucha voluntad para superarlo.

Victoria's Secret Musings

I just went lingerie shopping with three American girlfriends (the same three, actually, who shared a house with me in that fateful underage trip to Mexico). It was so interesting coming together again after our travels and very, very different lives, realizing that we all still share so much. Did we go to Mexico because we were already on the path to becoming women who love learning, ¬†travel, languages, and culture? Or was there something transformative about that shared summer that led us to become who we are today? Every time I see these friends – about twice a year if we’re lucky, when we come home for the holidays – I’m astonished at their grace and passion about what inspires each one, and the amazing ways in which she is accomplishing her goals. Our journeys diverge and converge over the years, but we bring something new every time, and our stories continue to intertwine.

With them, of course, come new stories about love and relationships, always entertaining for someone who remembers the boyfriends of Christmas past, from ¬†college crushes to high school heartbreaks. One is dating a Mexican American, born and bred in Chicago via Catholic seminary, slight hipster tendencies, and highly successful¬†entrepreneurship. Another has been living in Berlin where she’s seeing a Hungarian hip-hop dancer going to business school. Tell me that’s not cool. I would consider both of these cross-cultural relationships, because I think “cross-cultural” can ¬†be something as dramatic as coming from different countries or as subtle has having coming from the same country, even city, but having grown up in a different family with a different style, and traditions, and way of relating to one another. My school friend who was dating an international student from Botswana, her upstate New York roommate and her Southern boyfriend, my California girl mom and her southside of Chicago, dreadlocked, jazz musician partner with seven brothers and sisters — there are more of these types of relationships than we think. I think that so much of who we are depends on what we witnessed as children between parents and siblings, and there is an incredible array of sorts of families out there, all of which have their unique qualities and strengths (or weaknesses). What’s interesting is that there doesn’t seem to be a¬†hierarchy¬†for how “different” you are to how hard you have to work to understand each other. As I sit with these girls, eating ¬†and sharing stories and advice, a la sex and the city (really), the similarities strike me far more than the differences. Learning to communicate what you want and understand what the other wants. Creating ways to resolve conflict that are particular to you as a couple. Negotiating that eternal give and take, and forever trying to get inside their head when they do something that just seems so illogical. A problem that one has with her boyfriend can apply to the experiences of another with her lover, despite the oceans and languages between them. Are we more universal than we think? I mean at the base level, all anyone wants I think is to be loved, cared for, and respected – isn’t the only thing that changes the way we go about getting there? And could it be that in a way, cross-cultural relationships actually¬†facilitate¬†this?

Two things: first, it’s just more interesting. If you’re smart and enjoy a challenge, what could be more fun than trying to unravel the mystery of a heart and mind that has grown in an environment foreign to you? In a world where couples often grow bored with each other and marriage is not necessarily forever, it’s an extra spark of excitement. And secondly, think about it this way: you come from different families, cultures, ways of talking, loving, fighting, relating. You each bring your experiences as you try to build a life together – so don’t you actually bring more to the table by being so different? I mean, chances are you might find the solution to anything in at least one of your¬†repertoires.¬†¬†Maybe you’ll both have strong views that clash, but it seems to me better to choose between two options than one, and that way better adapt to your personalities, who you are as people. Ethnic diversity is empirically proven to lead to economic prosperity. Why shouldn’t cultural diversity lead to romantic well-being?

New Title!

Besuquear (v.): to kiss, to cover with kisses, to smother with kisses, to “neck” or make out. Love it.¬†Watching the subtitled Harry Potter taught me this one…

El Amante – The Lover

There is a lover in this relationship. I often notice my significant other with that telling, distant look in his eye. I catch snatches of their conversations from the other room, and I see the sheepish look on his face when they’ve just been together. Sometimes he tries to hide it, but if I confront him, he admits it, hoping that’ll count for something. Sometimes he even offers to invite me along, a threesome, which I endure and pretend to enjoy for his sake. The lover’s name? I don’t even want to know. Looks? Hard to tell, but most often dressed in red and white. Strange as it might seem, I accept the lover’s presence in our lives because I know, deep inside, that if I forced him to choose, he wouldn’t pick me. They’ve known each other since he was little; you could even say the lover is a friend of the family. And because I don’t to lose him, it sounds crazy, but I have grown accustomed to sharing my man with his lover. But when the lover is away, believe me, I take advantage of every second.

The futbol season is over for the summer, and hay que aprovechar.