The word sexism is defined as classifying women based on sex, this can also be called discrimination. The conversations discussed in the chapter “Ysrael” between Rafa and Yunior at such a young age is no doubt sexist and discriminatory towards women. I would say that Rafa is the worst of the two, because of how he describes his experiences about the women he has been with. Rafa tells Yunior stories about what he did with these girls. Yunior, being the little brother, is going to want to follow in Rafa’s footsteps. Although he does not quite understand what Rafa is talking about he states that “ I listened to him anyway, in case these things might be useful in the future” (Diaz 6).
Meaning Yunior is being taught that women are just sex objects and they do not deserve respect. In addition, this is most likely why Rafa behaves this way, because he learned it from his father. Later on in their conversation, Yunior compared the girls at the camp to the girls back home. Yunior stated that the girls back home were much easier than the girls at the camp. However, “kissing them was the same” (Diaz 5). In addition, Rafa and Yunior’s father, Papi, is no different as well. The boy’s see how Papi treats women, especially Mami. He is constantly cheating and lying to her and always aggressive and loud.
The two different types of abuse displayed in this chapter by Papi, is physical and emotional abuse. Physical abuse is the act of physically harming a person, for example, slapping or hitting. However, emotional abuse is a more verbal way of abusing someone by often times making them question their self worth. Often times this is associated with derogatory terms directly at a person. During this chapter Yunior is the one that is being physically abused, While Mami is the one who is emotionally abused. Papi’s hostility in the chapter “Fiesta 1980” is ridiculous and nobody else’s fault but his own.
Early in the chapter Yunior stated that “I was the only one who was always in trouble with my dad” (Diaz 26). However, after reading this chapter I noticed that Yunior does not do anything bad on purpose. Most, if not all of the things that happened is because of his own fathers doing. The first example, is when Papi becomes angry and aggressive in which he finds out that Yunior has eaten food before leaving to go to the party. Yunior often times becomes car sick especially since Papi bought his new van. Papi believes that keeping Yunior from eating will solve his problem from throwing up. However,it does not. Yunior states that “ every time I was in that VW and Papi went above twenty miles an hour, I vomited” (Diaz 27). In addition, Papi is always creative with his punishments, enforcing that you give him “your undivided attention when you were getting your ass whooped” (Diaz 26). Papi physically punishes Yunior for something that he can not control.
Another example of Papi’s abusive behavior is the fact that he cheats on Mami and attempts to hide it. An example of this is when Yunior describes the interaction between Papi and Mami as he “just pushed past her, held up his hand when she tried to talk to him and headed right into the shower” (Diaz 23). Although she does not mention it, Mami no doubt knows that Papi is cheating on her. I describe this as emotional abuse towards Mami.
In the chapter “Aurora”, the relationship between the narrator Yunior, and his girlfriend Aurora, is quite strange and is not the ideal relationship that one would think. Yunior loves Aurora and wants to save her from the current life that she is living. However, he is not really in a better place than she is because of the fact that he sells drugs and she is the one doing them. Throughout this chapter Aurora has the shakes, meaning that she is going through drug withdrawal. This also means that Aurora is using Yunior for his drugs. Aurora most often visits Yunior on Fridays because, “we always have something new and she knows it” (Diaz 48).
This relationship is obviously not healthy in the eyes of some, but somehow these two manage to stay connected. In addition, Yunior is not the only guy that Aurora is seeing, considering that she hangs around with crackheads and this boy named Harry. Yunior described him as “her other nut” (Diaz 54). Most if not all of the relationships in this book are quite similar to Aurora and Yunior’s. They are not perfect and reflect pretty much why they are the way they are. There is rarely any normality and if there is, it does not last very long.
Yunior’s did not know his father for the first nine years of his life. The only way he knew what he looked liked was from the pictures that his mother kept in a plastic bag in her room. He did not know him, but the people around him did. He was young so he did not understand that his father had abandoned them. In addition, if he does think of him, he remembers the photo of him in his guardian uniform. He described him as a “cloud of cigar smoke” (Diaz 70). I interpret this as a metaphor meaning that although his father is gone, he is still affecting the family; similar to a cloud of cigar smoke eventually disappearing but you can still smell it.
Yunior also mentioned that “he was pieces of my friends’ fathers, of the domino players on the corner, pieces of Mami and Abuelo. Meaning he did not just abandon Yunior but he abandoned everyone that knew him. Yunior’s father his brought up again during a conversation between him and his aunt. She stated that “If only your mother could have noticed his true nature earlier. He should see how he has left you” (Diaz 76). Yunior’s father writes letters to his mother sometimes stating that he is finally going to come back but he never does. This results in Yunior becoming more crazy about his father. This is understandable because of the fact that he is the only one who does not know his father.
The title itself “How to Date a Brown Girl.” is quite sexist in itself because of the fact that it is basically an instructional on how to date the different races of women. There are multiple times in this chapter where the narrator was just outright sexist. The question is, does sexism involve race. Yes, It does involve race, which is shown throughout this chapter being that it is instructing the reader on how to date each race and how each race will act towards you. An example of sexism and it involving race, is when the narrator is describing how to date a white girl, stating that “a white girl might just give it up right then” (Diaz 147).
The narrator is implying that white women are the easiest of them all to have sex with. In addition his view on Latina women is that “they may have hips and a thick ass” (Diaz 147), however, they are the most strict of the different races. Meaning they are not willing to do any sexual acts right away. Depending on the race that he is talking about, the narrator tries to hide who he truly is regarding his ethnicity and social class. He does this by hiding all traces of his, culture and identity from the girls. This indicates the self hatred that the narrator has of himself.
The story “Boyfriend” is the story of a woman who is manipulated by her boyfriend constantly. They always argue, and he usually cheats on her when she is not around. The story is told from Yunior’s point of view as he listens to this couple argue constantly from his apartment above. He stated that their arguing remind him of his ex girlfriend and how they use to argue. This is probably why he was so invested in listening to them.
The constant arguing and manipulation from Boyfriend takes a heavy toll on girlfriend emotionally. Girlfriend dedicated all of her time towards Boyfriend, this is the reason she took the breakup so hard and often spent days crying or watching movies. Yunior eventually ask her out, but nothing really happens because she is still upset over her breakup with Boyfriend. This relationship between Girlfriend and Boyfriend is very similar to how Papi acts towards Mami. Girlfriend is very vulnerable towards boyfriend, especially during their breakup process. Yunior describes how after every argument Girlfriend would let Boyfriend have sex with her “hoping that it would make him stay” (Diaz 113). Essentially, she is very dependent on Boyfriend.
In the last lines of the story though, girlfriend is a completely different person meaning she has changed her mindset. The first example “she got her hair cut short. no more science fiction combs” (Diaz 116). Meaning she is starting to embrace her natural self. In other words, with boyfriend, she was drowning in her own emotions in order to be somebody she was not just to satisfy his needs, or at least attempt to. It is noticeable how hard this was for her because of the fact that she was crying everyday. In addition to that, Yunior stated how the short hair make her “look fierce” (Diaz 117). I interpret this as that she is starting to live for herself instead of others. She is not afraid to embrace herself anymore and not relying on others for approval, especially boyfriend. Her response “That’s exactly what I wanted” (Diaz 117), Shows the independance starting to develop within Girlfriend. She feels that she has the freedom to just be herself for once instead of seeking approval from Boyfriend.
The last lines of the story are targeted towards those who are dealing with self hatred or those who are living a life of double consciousness, which is typical all throughout this book. In fact, I believe that the Author Junot Diaz is dealing with this problem as well. I say this because, it is a recurring theme in this book. Examples are shown in multiple chapters like “Boyfriend” “How to Date a Brown Girl..” and “Ysrael”. Often times characters in these chapters attempt to hide their culture, or their true identity from others. However, Girlfriend is the only character in this story who somewhat overcomes the issue of double consciousness. She realizes the importance of self love.
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