Monsters of Frustration

Cuban women. Photo: Caridad

Maria Matienzo Puerto

HAVANA TIMES — They say that love is what moves the world, and they might even have a point. But I’ve seen many women moved by the pressure of poverty, and with this the world is dragged down.

Yesterday someone tried to frighten me, as if I had been born in a glass capsule and didn’t know of certain ugly features of life. All they did was help me to remember.

A few years ago, when I wanted to be an anthropologist, I thought that Cuba could benefit from a study that linked poverty and gender. I don’t know if anyone has already done this.

I wanted to start with my neighbors.

How many of them lived with their husbands only because they had nowhere else to go? How many of them put up with beatings or had resigned themselves to miserable lives just because their chances of getting a house were nil.

How many of them had incomes that were as miserable as their lives, and how many were simply afraid?

Their husbands, all in the military, were the owners of the houses. The wives were no more than decoration.

I can say all of this from memory. Out of eighteen apartments, this was the case – except for two.

What I recall is “infidelity” (understanding this, please, as a concept based on Latino machismo principles), beatings, screaming, bruises the next day, silence, recovery and resignation.

And above all there was a great amount of complicity. This was from the rest of the women who would help to condemn them and restore the disrupted order with consoling phrases. Then was also the silent men who failed to intervene; their thinking was like that of the old saying: “When you get home and see your wife, hit her. You won’t know why, but she will.”

The consequences? A sea of frustration that creates generations of women who are even more frustrated.

Now that anthropology doesn’t interest me more than writing, I think that the lives of these women can be summarized as a state of dissatisfaction, the consequences of a deficient and sexist system that has presumed a lot but succeeded at nothing.

Yesterday, in their effort to scare me, that “someone” reminded me of the miserable lives some of us women are living, which can only be overcome based on their own efforts. This person helped me out of the lethargy into which I had fallen.

Poverty has appeared to me in dreams. It has materialized in the night disguised as a seven-headed monster. This has served only to remind me that I can’t live with too much fear, only that which is needed to push myself forward, to extend my hands and write about the lives of these women.


4 thoughts on “Monsters of Frustration

  • Unfortunately, I think the problem is worse D. There’s a big gap between how the woman is perceived in NY compared to latinoamerica. We have a different culture background,and some denial is always expected. In the positive aspect of it, times are changing for the hispanic woman as they get more involved into politics. Most comments and debates in the hispanic version of HT are involved in the fisilogical differences between men and woman, as you probably understand these’re encripted thoughts teached by an underdeveloped society compared to the modern world. As we live in countries were woman can serve as police officers, marines, truck drivers, and so on, Its dificult to understand that indeed still exist prejudice against the opposite sex( not all latinoamerica, and not 100% either to be clear) but again it’s unfortunate no matter what amount. Let’s hope that eventually not just latinoamerica, but countries like Iran, Egypt, and so forth can become more civilized toward woman rights.

  • Hello from NYC in the USA! This entry is quite grim.I am guessing that many men in Cuba feel that they have to behave in such a negative way because they cannot or will not admit that they are not fulfilling their dreams..or that they do not have any dreams or aspirations. Am I close to the truth here? My best wishes to you.

  • I agree jenny, I wish you could read some of the comments on the spanish version of havana times, Its awfull to read some of the criticism made by these MOTHERLESS! Anyways, my sympathy to the Cuban Woman, and God Bless Them.

  • Keep writing, Maria! Shining light into dark corners is vital work.

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