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Sex and Gender in Cuba

By Evana Huffman

In humans the female and male members are physically different. These differences include sexual organs, percentages of muscles and fat, and height and weight. Because of the differences in the genders, many societies view women and men separately. The roles that each gender are influenced by these differences. Cuban society in male dominated. There are explicit differences between the women and men of Cuba in personalities, duties, and sexuality.

There is a substantial difference in the personalities of Cuban women and men. Women are expected to be and are often very submissive. As children, they are protected like pieces of porcelain. The little girls are the angels of the house. On the other hand, boys are taught to be macho, act manly, and follow their father's work. Men are expected to be strong and aggressive. Sometimes the men are even violent. Cuban men seem to have very little respect for women, but they try to contain their language around them and restrict any abuse to their wives and sometimes their children. Both genders speak loud and may seem to be overly emotional about their conversations. In some cases they are emotional, but often it is just the way that they express themselves. The rights of the Cuban women are somewhat restrained. Women can not vote and are not suppose to use alcohol or tobacco. Women have the rights to own land and to drive, but often they do not. Education is also limited by gender. Women often obtain some grade school education, while the men are expected to continue on through trade school.

Cuban duties are also segregated by gender. Women mainly work around the house. Her duties include childcare, sewing, cleaning, cooking, laundry, and ironing (even sheets and underwear). Women may make household goods including pottery and clothes. Milking the cows and killing chickens are also women's work. Men work in the fields, in construction, on automobiles, in combat, and in the few political roles that they had. Men provide most of the primary subsistence in Cuba with the milking of the cows done by the women. Women provide most of the secondary subsistence with the men doing the outside cooking including fish and pig roasts.

There are different sexuality rules for each gender in Cuba. Young girls are constantly watched and protected to make sure that they stay virgins. Premarital sex is not allowed for girls. Most girls are married between the ages of 14 and 17 and it is common for the blood stained honeymoon sheets to be displayed to prove that the bride was a virgin. There is a six week postpartum period when women abstain from sex. At the other times during the marriage, a women is suppose to have sex with her husband according to his desires. Women are also not allowed to have extramarital sex. For boys, everything is much more relaxed. Premarital sex is fine with a "bad girl", the kind of girl that you have fun with but you do not marry. If a boy has sex with a "good girl" and is caught, then he is expected to marry her. Boys are often married around the ages of 17 and 18. Extramarital sex in men is very common. Although Cubans do not simply allow extramarital sex, everyone basically ignores it, and if it comes to her attention, a wife is expected to forgive and forget. Homosexuality is not allowed by either gender.

Women and men are different both physically and emotionally. These differences help to explain the different roles that each gender takes on in a society. Women have to breastfeed the children for the first few years, therefore it is easier for the women to be the primary caregiver for the children all the time. Men are often stronger and taller than women, therefore the men often work the fields since they can be more productive. The divisions between genders in Cuba are based on these facts. Since Cuba is male dominated, there are also some extra freedoms and rights of the men above the freedoms and rights of the women.



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