Mi papi is the source of a lot of unlearning that I’ve had to do in my adult life. He has also been a great dad, but a terrible husband. I often feel conflicted about how to deal with that because so many women stay with men who treat them poorly because of the kids and because he is un buen papi. I think I resent him because I resent myself. I resent him because my mom wanted to become more but stayed a mami, because she felt obligated to be that for us. She has stayed married because of her duty to her children and I resent this mentality and I think at my core I blame him.
But I grew up being the apple of mi papi’s eyes; I was la consentida, la favorita, y la princesa de papi. He taught me to question authority. Because of his own experiences with oppression, the best way he knew how to articulate his response to it was to develop a “question them” mentality. He loved that I was strong like my mami, and he loved that I was smart.
Once, in Miami, I ran out of gas on the highway, mi mami and mi papi dropped everything and came to my rescue. Another time, I crashed my car and, again, he ran to my rescue; never vilifying nor blaming me, but, was simply happy I was safe. Mi papi is THAT guy who when business is great, he will treat everyone in the restaurant.
But he treats mi mami like he is entitled to her. Including what she wears, how she speaks, how she walks, where she goes, who she befriends, and the lists goes on… As a woman, as someone who knows that he thinks this is appropriate behavior, I quickly began to resent the implication that I was supposed to become that person to some man. He never said it, but in never fixing the way he treated the most important woman in our lives, he taught me that no matter how well and kind he was to me, he did not value me simply because of my gender. Because of how he treated mi mami I began to realize that he did not really care about women, he thought of women as tools and not as equals.
When you begin to realize that your papi, who has treated you like you are the most deserving person in this planet, is sexist you begin to get angry and you begin to ask tough questions. Turns out that when you stop being a sweet admirable hijita, you become a problem. He then began to blame my mami for who I was becoming, as if being forward and questioning his authority was a problem. We began to grow more distant, the less I turned to him for advice the less I asked him for his approval, the more I was becoming unmanageable and a problem, according to him.
But I still remember the papi I grew up with. I still remember how kind he was to me. I remember how much he went out of his way to ensure his children grew up needing as little and having as many possibilities as he could make possible.
I have come to a place where I need to honor my ancestors and in my resistance uphold my female ancestors, but, remember that the men have always been there and they have stayed present in my life and have shaped it; whether for the betterment or detriment of who I have become today.
Being Latina means that family is where I feel the most like myself and feel the most loved. And I will never say that sexism in Latinx households is more intense than sexism in white households, because it is not. It is more of the same. But I will say that being Latina and experiencing sexism in my household means that I have to make a very real decision about how much patience I will give my papi, because my familia is my lifeline and sacrificing that is no easy task. So here I am, with all my flaws and my resistance at a 100, expecting the best of my papi but knowing better.
I have a papi who suffers the consequences of toxic masculinity and I have to hold him accountable to his male privilege while acknowledging colonialism and Christianization through theology that prioritized men, but also prefers those men to be white and wealthy. I have a papi who has never been on a real vacation because he was told it was his responsibility to take care of the household. I have a papi who is very sick now and I would do anything to help him because he made very real sacrifices for his family, even when it was all drenched in sexism. I have a papi that I love so much, but work so hard to undo what he passed down to me because I was born female in a household that honors men. I have a papi that I know I cannot live without, but also cannot spend too much time having deep conversations around race, gender, class, and the likes. I have a papi whom I love deeply, but I try to find a mate who will never pass down gendered reservations to my children, like mi papi did to me.
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!