By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
I love Mexican hombres! They treat their women like queens. But my friend disagrees—he says Mexican husbands make their wives sleep on the floor. Who's right?
Both of you. All cultures vacillate between two archetypes in how they treat women: the saintly Madonna and the Great Whore. But few societies have institutionalized this Manichaean duality like Mexico. Consider the country's founding mothers—la Malinche y la Guadalupana. Malinche (alternately known as Malintzin and Marina) was an Indian maiden who served as translator and mistress for Cortés on his bloody march to Tenochtitlán during the Conquest. Mexico has reviled her ever since—indeed, the term "malinchista" is a synonym for traitor. Twelve years after the fall of the Aztec empire, on Dec. 12, 1531, another brown-skinned woman changed Mexico's course: Our Lady of Guadalupe. Whereas la Malinche brought the sword of Spain to the indios of America, Guadalupe rewarded Her children with salvation by fusing the Catholic Virgin Mary with the Aztec earth goddess Tonantzin. Freud might say that the fact these two epic mujeres appeared so early in Mexico's gestation explains why they're seared into the Mexican psyche. Would that also explain the extreme positions Mexican men take toward their women? But really: every woman has a bit of Mother María and a butt slut in her—men just react accordingly.
How come you call yourself a Mexican? By definition, you're a Chicano, not a Mexican. A Mexican is a person that was born and raised in Mexico, not beautiful Orange County. A Mexican is a person that is proud of his country and appreciates and respects the Mexican flag even though he left the country years ago. A Mexican read the free textbooks provided by the Secretaria de Educación Pública during his school years and studied Mexican history. A Mexican is a person that sang the Mexican national anthem every Monday morning while watching six kids carry the flag around. Mexicans know the difference between the more than 150 chiles that exist in our country. Mexicans grew up eating candies with different chiles. Mexicans watch Televisa and Televisión Azteca, not Telemundo or Univisión. Mexicans speak fluent Spanish, not Spanglish. Mexicans came to this country to work hard and have a decent life, not to destroy this place like you and your people believe. Mexicans believe that family and religion are the most important values. Mexicans are not planning to take over California—we are too lazy to even think about it, and we do not believe in wars. I can go on and on describing the differences between you and me, but let's just leave it like that. How can you even describe our culture, values or behavior if you don't have a clue about it? Eating burritos at Taco Bell, going to Mexican parties in SanTana or having Grandma cooking some Mexican dishes doesn't make you a Mexican.
Let's run down your list: check (most of my parents' rancho had relocated to Anaheim by the time I was born), check, check (my dad's cousin was a history teacher in Mexico), check, check, check, check (where do you think Univisión gets most of its programming? Lifetime?), por supuesto, check, and too late. Add to this my mestizo heritage, the facts that mi papi was an illegal immigrant and I didn't speak fluent English until I was 6 or 7, and that I grew a mustache in the time it took you to read this sentence, and I'm more Mexican than Pedro Infante. Besides, who made you arbiter of mexicanidad, Real Mexican? National character is never static, and anyone who claims otherwise is as deluded as a Minuteman.
Got a spicy question about Mexicans? Ask the Mexican at email@example.com. And those of you who do submit questions: include a hilarious pseudonym,por favor, or we'll make one up for you!