Recently I had two separate conversations with women who essentially stated the same thought: women are born to suffer.
Do you agree with that?
Naturally, these women are Oaxaqueñas, whose native state is in second place in the country of Mexico for violence against women.
Chihuahua state, where we previously ministered, takes first place due to the fact that thousands of women have been murdered in the past ten years there, with a quantitive number kidnapped and murdered on behalf of snuff p*rn*graphy, or so I’ve been told.
In both conversations, it’s obvious that spousal abuse is the norm – regardless of how many spouses, or life partners they’ve had. (Life partner is a contradiction in terms, to be truthful. The word they use in spanish, marido, in effect means ‘catch from the sea’. Think bait and hook!)
The one conversation involved four women, with swear words intertwined on their side of the conversation. (Not exactly the vocabulary I aspire to learn!) Being a gringa, they turned to me and asked, “How about in the US? Is there abuse like this there?” I replied that yes, there is abuse. In fact, there is abuse everywhere, but in the US it doesn’t seem to be as common as it is here.
Now some of my friends reading this blog would know these statistics much better than I do. Feel free to leave a comment on current facts, if you know them.
They continued and asked me why I thought it was worse in Mexico. I replied that perhaps machismo had something to do with that. They agreed, but I had touched a nerve they didn’t like touched. As we talked, certain other factors were discussed, such as that of the law.
In the US, men can be and often are convicted of spousal abuse. In Mexico, what? Your husband hit you? Well, you probably deserved it! would be the expected response. He beat you up because another guy whistled at you and tried coming on to you? Expected reply would be: why were you flirting or acting like a slut?
That’s harsh- and on a missions blog too! Well, do you really want to know the culture we live in or should I just stick to yummy Mexican recipes and interesting photos?
So, the consensus was that the law supporting women’s rights here in Mexico is lacking, although they still had a problem labeling it machismo.
Still, I told them, God never planned for women to be born to suffer. Yes, suffering does have it’s place in our life- such as the curse of labor pains- and although we were created second and were given the place of submission to man, God never intended it to be an abusive situation. They pondered that for a brief second before one of them shot me this question, “Are you Catholic or a Christian?” (That’s what happens when you talk casually about God when you’re not in a cathedral!)
“I am a Christian”, I said.
Immediately the next question was, “Is your husband Mexican?” (obviously, they don’t know me or our family well; this was at the local gym where I go to work out).
“No, he is American.”
“And does he hit you?”
I then replied, “We’ve been married twenty two years and he has never once hit me.”
Liar, liar is what their faces said. One of them asked incredulously, “not even once?”
“Not even once”, I reiterated.
“Is he a Christian, too?”, they then asked.
Here we go, open door! “Yes”, I said, adding, “and that is why he doesn’t hit me. As Christians, we do our best to read, obey, and live by the Bible. The Bible says for a man to love his wife as Christ loves the church. Christ cares for his church, wants her to move ahead and be successful, wants her to grow.” I explained that our marriage is not perfect, that we do have serious arguments complete with frustration, yelling, and stupid behaving from time to time, but for the most part it is a happy and loving marriage.
It took a moment for their eyes to blink and their jaws to close. Then they asked, “Could your husband give ‘talks’ to our husbands?”
The other conversation I had threaded similarly to this one with this final thought tagged on, “If all men were like your husband, this world would be a better place.”
Those comments make me very proud of my husband and thankful to God for a man like him, yet I felt a sadness on behalf of all these women at the same time. What must it be like to live beaten, treated like a dog, called names, and be worth little more than trash? And worse, for them to think that’s…normal?!
I can’t imagine. I only keep wondering what more I can do so women will stop living abused and holding to the philosophy that they were born to suffer.