“This is how to hem a dress when you see the hem coming down and so to prevent yourself from looking like the slut I know you are so bent on becoming… This is how you smile to someone you don’t like very much; this is how you smile to someone you don’t like at all; this is how you smile to someone you like completely” Jamaica Kincaid nails the mentality of Hispanic mothers right on the head. Girls are constantly told cover up, be respectful, be kind, be pure; by their mothers on a daily basis, often when braiding the daughter’s hair. Instead of being told to be themselves, the way their brothers are able to.
Contrary to this moral injustice is the story of Makina in Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World, in this story the narrator Makina stands for everything that a normal, stereotypical mother would hate. The narrator Makina has premarital sex on multiple occasions stating, “She’d shucked him for the first time back during the brouhaha about the mayors,” (Herrera 26). Makina uses the word shucked as if he meant nothing. The boy was just an object of her pleasure. This goes against the idea that a woman must stay pure until marriage, also that a woman is allowed to have pleasure in sex rather than solely the man
Herrera really highlights the idea of being able to have pleasure on the following page stating, “…finally reeled him in on a line she was tugging from her bedroom. The man made love with a feverish surrender, sucked her nipples into new shapes and when he came was consumed with tremors of sorrowful joy” (Herrera 27). Not only does Makina bait the man into having sex with her she even enjoys it. And how dare she? She knows women aren’t supposed to enjoy sex, right? You aren’t supposed to initiate intimacy ever, that’s the man to do. You are to be desired not to desire, that is the man’s job. Makina shows the Hispanic patriarchy that she doesn’t give a damn about their morals and the way they see women, she will enjoy sex if she wants to and with whomever she wants.
Herrera also writes Makina to fight back and retaliate against the men that try to harm her. When young boys hassle her on the bus, Makina wastes no time in showing them who’s boss, “Makina turned to him, stared into his eyes so he’d know that her next move was no accident, pressed a finger to her lips, shhhh, eh, and with the other hand yanked the middle finger of the hand he’d touched her with almost all the way back to an inch from the top of his wrist… I don’t like being pawed by fucking strangers, if you can believe it,” (Herrera 31). Makina shows the boy that she means business and won’t stand for any of his behavior. This is the complete opposite of the things Hispanic mothers tell their daughters. My own mother once told me if any man tries anything with me to not fight back because they like the struggle, to not cry because they like to see you tears, once they are done they will move on because they’re bored and want someone who will put up a fight. Makina is the daughter no stereotypical Hispanic mother raised. She is revolutionary, showing women that they are powerful and do not have to succumb to the patriarchy’s ideals. Now ask yourself, are you a Makina or are you the lamb your mother raised you to be?