The Literature Café

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A Problem in my Island

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend about the belief of some women in our culture about men. She is a single mom and has been for a few years. She relates that her female friends always told her that she should have a man in her life to which she responded that she did not need one to be happy. Coming from a single mom home, I could relate to what she was telling me since my mother went through this.
We started discussing why some women believe that they cannot be happy without a man and came to the conclusion that in our Latino culture we are taught by what we see on the television, in this case soap operas. The common soap operas here show women treating themselves and each other badly because of a man. If a man treats them badly it’s okay because at least they have one by their side. Also, if you like a guy you have to get him to want you by playing games, manipulating, kissing, and flirting to the extent of driving him crazy and then stopping everything. As a consequence, he will fall in “love” with you and its okay if he uses a little force to kiss you because this means he is passionate about you.
The problem with all of this is that this has become the entertainment of our growing children because they watch this with their parents. Girls as young as 8 years old are under the belief that this is how you get a guy and that you should always forgive them because “love” and have him. That they cannot make decisions or deal with problems without the help of a man. Boys grow up believing that to be a man they have to own the girl. With this as their entertainment, children have lost the appreciation for reading.
I am not saying that by reading everything will be okay, but I truly believe that even reading fiction opens children’s eyes to reality. That there are ways of dealing with problems and that by believing in yourself does not mean that you will be unhappy and alone. To give an example, Hermione of the Harry Potter Series believes in herself, is respected and she was never alone. There are countless of other examples like this in literature.
I know that this problem of misconceptions in gender roles and children not reading are not new. However, in my island these are growing problems and I am worried. Reading does help us and, even if you are already grown up, it is never too late to start appreciating it. It is never too late to give a child a book. As I described last week any book can be influential, it just depends on your taste.

What do you think?

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