When your relationship with your older brother is the first emotionally abusive relationship that you’ve ever been in, you learn a particular kind of fucked up approach to dealing with men.
In my house there were rules that existed only for me, and never for him: Don’t stay out late. Don’t have a boyfriend. Do not talk to boys. Do not flirt. Do not tempt men. Do not provoke men. Help mom cook and clean, etc. These rules were sexist and extraordinarily problematic, and I did everything in my power to subvert them, even if only in secret. Because in my kid logic, if they did not apply to my brother (who was only two years older than me), then they should not apply to me.
Yet, as soon as I was hormonal and wanted to be around boys, my brother took it upon himself to shame and patrol me. My brother would call me fat, make fun of my body hair, ridicule my intelligence, and try to keep me “humble” for his own gain. Not only that, but if he got wind of me dating someone, he would drive to where he knew I would be, trying to gather evidence as "proof" to my parents of my whore-ish ways.
My brother also had a way about him where he would be nice enough, and genuinely apologetic after a big fight that he had caused. He'd come to me later with tears and all-– and I would put my guard down long enough for him to say something that was violent to my autonomy. After 17 years of believing him, and genuinely thinking he was sincerely sorry for being a shitty person, I stopped talking to him.
I told him nothing.
I trusted nothing about him.
His intentions were always suspicious to me, at best. This way I could be ready for whatever came my way.
The less he knew about me, the better. The less he heard about me, the more I knew I would be okay. My logic was, you couldn’t hurt someone who is always ready for you to hurt them.
I rarely write about my brother, because it requires me to ask tough questions of my parents. Why did they allow him to rule over me, to mistreat me, to belittle me, and dehumanize me? Why was this never corrected? But then I remember that, even now, he is an elder at his church. And that is because society as a whole has put males on a pedestal and their bar of excellence is devoid of much scrutiny. And how they treat women is not a priority. And they can still be respected and admired, even when their own sisters do not even trust them.
I grew up with a brother that thought he was my father, and a father who allowed my brother to feel this empowered. I grew up with a brother who married someone significantly younger than him--and I knew that it had to do with the ability to assert power on a younger, impressionable female body. And I grew up knowing all this was fucked up.
I rarely write about my brother because it requires that I turn the lens on myself. Like that one time I saw him beat my sister, and I was paralyzed to see that nothing had changed-- that my parents kept allowing this to happen, that society upheld his masculinity, and I did nothing. I rarely write about my brother, because today he faces the consequences of his toxic masculinity on a daily basis, and I have done nothing.
Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez is a chonga Mujerista from Managua, Nicaragua currently living in Miami, FL. She recently graduated with her Masters from Vanderbilt University, and is looking to take some much needed time off to refresh. She is also the founder of Latina Rebels, a blogger for HuffPo Latino Voices, and a columnist/editor at Chica Magazine. Her interests are within biopolitics as it relates to Latina embodiment, specifically concerning models of conquerable flesh around narratives of naturalization for women of color. Thus her work is around reclaiming and upholding embodied resistance, particularly within chonga and chola subcultures. Que viva la mujer!