E-mail for lovers

Excerpt by Beatriz Salcedo-Strumpf

Hurriedly, I answer him:


How cold you came across to me in your last message! I must also tell you that I’m very disenchanted that you have no regard for Hispanic women writers. Whether you like or not, there are excellent Ibero-American authors, and the quality of their writing is very appreciable, and I’m not going to repeat any of their names. The reason why women haven’t advanced in this field and in others is because historically we have been yoked to domestic space. And when one has had the opportunity to become educated, it has been quite a bit effort. I’m saying this because of personal experience.  Virginia Woolf put it very well: “Intellectual independence depends on material things. Poetry depends on intellectual freedom.

And women have always been poor, not only for two hundred years, but since the beginning of time. Women, therefore, have not had the least opportunity to write poetry. That is why I have insisted so much on the necessity of having money and a room for your own”.

As you can see, she expresses this idea better than I.

Look, I can only read or write when I have finished the endless work I have in the house, in addition to all my work at the university. Many of my friends haven’t even able to practice their professions because the needs of the house have taken precedence.

Don’t think I am against housework, but there should be more equality in the executions of these labors. I mean men  should help with household chores. I know that these are cultural matters, deeply entrenched in our cultural medium, but with the aid and support of all family members, change could succeed. I recognize that this is rather utopian, but not an impossibility.

And I add, in the same way, the rearing of children has been assigned to us and we are valued for the male heirs that we give society. The machista ideology is evident in its existence here and now, and in the current patriarchal system in which we live. What infuriates me about all these questions is that equality doesn’t exist in our upbringing and let’s not even mention the double standard that we women have tolerate. The saddest part of the situation is that machista and misogynist  women exist as well. They help to proliferate the patriarchal model, but I don’t pile all the blame on them. First, some haven’t had the chance to overcome their sphere and, for that reason, they think that is the only way to exist, to be.

As to the double standard, I recall incidents when I was an adolescent. For example, my brothers had the luxury of entering, leaving and getting home at any hour, but I was strictly prohibited from doing the same. Nine o’clock was my nightly curfew. As to sexual aspect, every month I had to show my mother the bloodstains on my most intimate clothing. It was her way of verifying that I wasn’t pregnant.

Obviously, my brothers had nothing to show and nothing to verify.

I’m going to relate you an unpleasant anecdote. Early one day, on the way to the gym where I worked-I tended to walk there because of its proximity to my house- I was suddenly confronted by a youth of fifteen or sixteen. He tried to yank my skirt up and I screamed at him to let go and ran away from him as fast as my legs would go.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the police was passing by and called to me: “What’s wrong, Miss? You look so upset”. I pointed at the boy and exclaimed that he tried to rape me. The policeman ordered me to get into the car, then did the same to the boy. We were taken to headquarters where another policeman asked me to repeat my story.

His reaction left me pretrified: “Young lady, if you weren’t wearing a miniskirt, that kid wouldn’t even have looked at you.” I kept silent and the only thing I wanted was to get out of that abominable sexist place.

Similar things can be said about my girlfriends. Many have had to abandon their careers because their duties at home would not permit them to do more or their husbands simply would no allow them to work. Or if the spouse was “generous,” he authorized his wife to work with the assurance that she wouldn’t neglect the needs of the children, much less his own.

These cases raise my bile. I recognize that they are products  of cultural biases deeply rooted  in tradition, but with the support, understanding and reasoning of all family members, the predicament of women could be amended.

Well, I leave you here because my household duties are calling me.


The Sorceress.”

10 thoughts on “E-mail for lovers

  1. I liked the part about “And women have always been poor…” I oft find that when speaking about gender inequality, the issues stressed are always the quantitative statistics, facts and figures; yet there is one flaw with this concept. Statistics can be made to say ANYTHING, which is the issue I hold with your notion. I agree, the world we live in is far from equitable or fair, however gender inequality does not always tip in favor of the male sex. For example, in another one of your blogs, you openly admitted to flirting with a police officer, which aided in you getting out of a ticket and fine! Now, a male in your exact situation would be disadvantage, and stuck getting a ticket/fine! That to me seems unfair as well. Women do tend to get the short end of the stick, but I struggle with the fact that it seems the only side of the story being told today in the 21st century is that of the female’s short-comings, and we the audience greet this call with the utmost in empathy.

  2. This story depicts the aggravations of any young woman who grew up in even a mildly traditional home… Being stuck with the house work and laundry while her brother is allowed to come and go as he pleases. This part of your story really hits home with me because I’m from a home like this as well, though maybe not to the extent as “The Sorceress”. You really have captured the underlying feeling that results from this because, while just reading this, my chest tightened like it often does when I’m home from school and I’m forced to do my father’s laundry. Truly excellent.

    • Lauren:

      Así es, todavía vivimos en un mundo donde se cree y piensa que las mujeres, todavía somos responsables de la educación de los hijos y los quehaceres de la casa. Nosotras debemos hacer participes a nuestra contrapartida de que es la labor de dos. Hemos alcanzado bastante equidad, pero tenemos que seguir luchando por aquellas que no tienen voz, por falta de educación o por no tener los medios económicos. Tú también puedes escribir tu vida haciéndola ficción.

      Hasta mañana.

      Tu profesora de español,


  3. The story puts sort of a bad image on males, but I do agree that throughout time women have been stuck in the household while the men have been able to go out and play and enjoy themselves. It is truly unfair.

  4. Me gusta este extracto, ¿tienes la historia completa para leer? Pienso que no justo el tratamiento diferente entre los hombres jovenes y las mujeres. Mi hermano no tuvo ninguna regla, y pienso que es más por causa de su género que su edad. El tiene cuatro años mayor que yo, pero mi tratamiento ahora es tan diferente de su tratamiento cuando él tenía 20 años.

  5. Su novela parece tan interesante, yo debería haberla escogido para mi papel final. Creo que sería una buena idea leer este libro con las clases de SPA 302.

  6. I think that this kind of double standard still exist in today’s society. As a person from ethnic background, my parents would always think that I can’t do certain things that my brother can at a certain age. Also comparing salaries, on average, women are still paid less than men. You raised a good point in this excerpt about working for the intellectual independence as well as the house chores.

  7. I believe double standards will always exist and even in today’s society it exist. I can relate because my parents do the same to me. My brother get to do things that I cant which I do not find fair. Women and Men will never be equal, as much as America speaks about equality. Even jobs, men and women can be working the same job, yet men will get paid more. Not fair !

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