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The Madrid Chick

Musings from a Canadian living in Madrid

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Spain

In defense of men

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I hate male bashing. A friend of mine posted this on her Facebook and asked me why I did not like it. She said, ¨Oh come on! Lighten up! It is meant to be funny! Men are annoying!¨ I told her that women are just as annoying as men can be and that posts like these are unfair. She said that although my point was true, the truth is that men are not as sensitive and caring as women are. That is when I immediately came to the defense of men.

I should backtrack a little bit and explain a little bit of my background. I have endometriosis. What is that? Well, without going into too much detail, it involves difficult periods and can cause difficulty in conceiving. I discovered that I had endometriosis about three years ago. After experiencing severe pains, I learned that I had a cyst the size of an orange in my body (not cancerous) three years ago. That cyst had grown over a long period of time and had destroyed about 60 percent of one of my ovaries. I had a successful surgery and as of now, I no longer have any cysts that are growing. I have two tiny ones that are quite inactive. I have written a very brief account of the matter, but it was, and continues to be, a difficult situation for me. I would sincerely love to have children but there is the possibility that I will not. 

I got married three years ago and I am 40 years old.  I live in Spain and work as an English teacher in a religious school. What does that mean? I get the comments (primarily from women) saying, ¨So, when is the baby coming?¨  or if my tummy is sticking out more than usual, I get, ¨When is the baby due?”  Then I just have to put on my best smile, even though I want to seriously slap somebody, give a brief reply and walk away. There is this idea that as soon as one gets married, one should get pregnant. I honestly find that an archaic and often impractical thing. What if we could not afford to have a child right now? What if soon after being married, we just wanted to enjoy being just a couple? No couple should feel the need to explain their private life.I also want to remind people that women´s bodies are not vending machines where you throw in your change and get your desired product. Not long ago, a woman slapped my husband on the arm and told him¨, ¨How about that baby eh? You two are running out of time!¨  That hurt like hell. So much for sensitive and caring.

Another moment that comes to mind is when I was not getting pregnant and a family member (a female of course) said to my husband and I, ¨Well, are you two doing it right?¨  I kid you not. I was too polite to sarcastically ask, ¨Are you planning to give us a demonstration?¨

I was visiting my mother not long ago and we went into a flower shop that she and I use to to go to a lot. A Young woman working there said, ¨Oh! Are you pregnant?¨I shook my head and said ¨no¨putting on my best possible grin that said ¨No, now kindly please shut up¨, but she continued by saying, ¨I just figured you were since you are fatter than the last time I saw you.¨ What a generous use of words to use the comparative of the word, ¨fat¨. I stopped grinning and told my mom that we were leaving. I confess had a good cry after that. I returned home and told my husband about it. He told me not to worry, that I am  beautiful and perfect the way I am. Not fat. Not fatter. Not defected.

I remember when I was single, I would often get the question, ¨How come you don´t have a boyfriend? or ¨Why are you not married yet?¨  Men never asked me that, of course. Women did. I am not referring to older women, I am referring to women my age or younger. I simply said that I had not yet met him and that I would prefer to be single and happy than to be with someone just to say I had someone. I don´t believe in wasting my time and my worth does not come from being associated with a man. I lived for several years on my own with no boyfriend. It was a wonderful time.

There are other examples but I do not need to detail them. When I explained these examples to my friend she I understood my point of view better and was quite shocked.  Men, in my experiences these days, never make me feel like there is something wrong with me. It is generally women. This is not to say that there are not great female friends in my life. Fortunately, there are a few. I think the important thing to know here is that everyone can cause hurt and be insensitive, It is also important not to let other people´s insensitivity affect you too much. That is not easy.

If there are any gentleman reading this, I am sorry that you guys are stereotyped. The stereotypes that you are all insensitive or ignorant fools are completely unfair. Human beings can be insensitive or unkind, not just men. I know that there are plenty of good men out there who have women in their lives that would be the first to praise  the kind of people they are. I am referring to husbands, fathers, brothers, boyfriends, uncles, sons, grandfathers and friends. All men. And these men do not cause problems in women’s lives. They just make life sweeter.

Can good manners ¨run out of style”?

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As a native English speaker and teacher living in Spain I am often told that we English speakers say ¨please¨ and ¨thank you¨ too much. I answer by saying that it is better to say these things too much than not at all. I often point out that I find it so disappointing and frankly,maddening, when I hear how children usually make requests here in Spain.  The ¨requests¨ can often begin with an ¨Oye¨ ,which means ¨hey¨.  This ¨hey¨is normally accompanied by a very loud or even screechy voice. This alone instantaneously makes my skin crawl because my name is not ¨hey¨and I hate shouting. (If you don´t respond immediately, the voice just gets louder) .The ¨hey¨is usually followed by the phrase ¨I want ……¨  And that is that.  The other way children make known that they want something is by making statements. For example, Paco does not have a pencil so he comes up to me and says, ¨I don´t have a pencil¨and he will expect me to give it to him.  Conversation over. When I give people these examples of what I can only call blatant rudeness, I am often told that these are cultural differences. That is where I draw the line. No!!  That is not possible because I married a Spanish man and he does not speak this way nor does his family or do his friends.  It seems to me that the generation of adults having children today have lost sight of the importance of good manners. I am not saying all of them, but yes, many. I work in a school that is focused on the children learning English as well as Spanish. Parents have this dream of their children becoming bilingual (though most don´t know much English or have any real desire to learn it themselves) and spend a good amount of money for this to be achieved. They want their children to be well rounded and ready for the future that awaits them. But unfortunately, good manners seem to be disregarded as a means of educating a person fully. I do what I can to teach the children that politeness and kindness is fundamental in my classroom. One day I asked my students, who are only 6 and 7, ¨Which is more important, learning English or learning how to be a good and kind person?¨The students answered that English is more important. I told them that although English is important, being a good and kind person is more important because no matter what language you speak, if you are cruel, rude or unkind, nobody will want to be your friend. The students were shocked that I told them that but it made a difference in their attitude towards each other. The trend is for children to learn so much and yes, their opportunities have increased in many ways, but since when did good manners become unnecessary?

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