Miss Independent. Even she needs a man in Chile??

Published: June 29th 2012
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Me and Bri attending to our "wifely duties".Me and Bri attending to our "wifely duties".Me and Bri attending to our "wifely duties".

In my culture class we learned that there is actually a career in Chile at this one university exclusively for women in which they learn how to be good wives and how to serve their husbands. They learn about laundry detergents, the best way to mop a floor, and how to cook and be humble. My professor wanted us to know that is is by NO means the Chilean norm but it does exist here. Would me and Briana qualify? Hehe =)
Who needs a man? We live in the 21st century where women are more empowered than ever. We're in the work force, we do what we want, and we're taking care of business! Well, when you're standing on a street corner in Valparaiso at 2 in the morning alone, you begin to think maybe you DO need a man! And the feeling gets stronger as a creepy looking gentleman eyes you from the corner of his eye. That happened to me tonight.

For a place that has such awesome night life, it's incredibly hard to make sure you're safe as a woman. People don't go out until 1:30 A.M. here. Many people do not have cars. In fact, there's nowhere to even park in front of a discoteca. Parking barely exists so even if I DID have a car here, where would I park? Should women have to be accompanied everywhere?? It's so unfair. Stuff starts epically late, but for the woman who doesn't have a man to accompany her, she has to have a heart attack waiting on a street corner alone for public transportation late at night. Or never go out at all. Both are quite unsavory options.

I'm independent. I like doing what I want, when I want, and not having to worry about my safety. Back home there are few situations where I feel like I need to be protected. Although that might be true in the States, here in Chile I can't help but to feel like I need a man just to be safe and it's disgusting. Here, it takes more than a notion to go out alone. In the U.S. I'm used to having a car. I park in front of my house and even if I go somewhere or leave somewhere late, I get in my car and it's fine. I have the power to go 90 miles an hour to flee if need be. And if someone gets after me I can always run them over. Haha It's empowering! I don't feel that same sense of security in Chile and for that reason, I can't help but feel like I've left behind a piece of my independence.

I went house hopping today. I went to Lauren's house and had once with her and then afterwards I went to Claire's house. We talked forever (doing what we do best!), and
Dylan and BrianaDylan and BrianaDylan and Briana

I had just taught Dylan how to make omelets. Look at him go!
by the time I left, it was really late. I had to catch not one, but two colectivos home. After catching the first colectivo down her hill, I got out to wait on a different one. That's when this man kept looking at me in a shady manner and giving me the creeps! He would turn away and then look at me again from the corner of his eye. I couldn't shake the uneasy feeling and there was only one other guy on the street who was walking. I trusted my gut instinct and walked down towards the guy who was walking (there's safety in numbers) and went to another stop within eyesight of a few more people and farther away from the creeper.

A couple of months ago I got stuck between the bottom of Cerro Esperanza and Cerro Placeres when I was leaving Bri's house from a study date. Our classmate Dylan had to go catch the metro and wasn't gentleman enough to offer to wait with me at my bus stop. I didn't ask him to because I didn't want to act all "damsel in distress". It was late (around 10 o'clock), and I ended up having to call my host dad to come pick me up because all the buses and colectivos were full. My host family freaked out! Apparently some chick had been assaulted down there recently and some other chick almost got thrown into some dude's car as he was trying to abscond with her. My host dad was not happy. He stressed that I needed to leave Bri's house in the daytime or I should have stayed the night. Let me make this clear--I live a hill over. We don't live far from each other at all. And it was only 10 o'clock! I was not prepared to stay the night and it was impossible to finish studying before nightfall. That's when I got annoyed. I'm a grown woman. I should not have to stay in after dark or spend the night at a friend's house because there isn't a man who is willing to accompany me home. Are we back in the 17th century?!

I've been really blessed. I've felt God protecting me over and over again even from my sometimes bad decisions. My first time out in Valpo, I was still unfamiliar with the city and I waited under a bridge for friends to meet up with me at 1 A.M. That was not smart and I realized how un-smart that was when I was there waiting for like 30 minutes alone and dodging the stares of strangers. I was supposed to meet Bri, Greg, Zak, Alicia, Julia, and a bunch of other people. They were all coming together from Greg's. I said I'd meet them. No big deal...I thought. Muelle Baron, which is an inviting beach board walk during the day, is highly sketch at night. It's apparently not safe to go there after dark. I didn't know! The next thing I know, three guys are approaching me. I thought they were going to rob me at the least. I planted my feet firmly, put on a hard face, and braced myself for the worst. One of the guys asked me if I was from there. I lied and said yes. Then he asked me if I was a foreign student. Okay, that was weird. I didn't know what to say and just remained in my stance. Noticing I was nervous, he asked me if I knew Greg. That was extra weird! He said he was one of
chocolate chip pancakes, omelets, and pepperschocolate chip pancakes, omelets, and pepperschocolate chip pancakes, omelets, and peppers

Pancakes are not the same as Chilean panqueques. They're both good but sometimes you just need a pancake!
Greg's Chilean friends. Then he gave me his phone and told me to call Greg to see where he was. And he waited with me until he showed. Phew! What are the chances? I'm standing outside freaking out (silently of course) and three random guys walk up who happen to be friends with the dude I was waiting for. Then one of the other guys offered to accompany me home after the night was over. Phew. Safety.

Stuff like that has been happening all semester and I don't think it's by chance. Even how tonight I was able to get away from that creepy fellow. More than a man, maybe Miss Independent just needs God in Chile. =) He has definitely been my greatest protector.


29th June 2012

Wow... Chekeitha, we are experiencing so many similar things! And you could be my daughter!! ha haa ha! The more I read your blog, the more I realize how far from my roots I\'ve actually grown. How deeply I have integrated into the American culture now -where I can identify with a \"foreign\" girl visiting the country in which I was originally born. Because, that\'s what I think the issue is here, the issue we share even though you are from here but you\'re there, and I am from there but I\'m here... funny, huh? See, I was just the other day talking to another Chilean friend of mine who lives in New York, about the same subject: safety in the streets in Chile. She thinks the reason we both fear being out late at night is because we are... well, there\'s no gentler way to put it... OLD! Ha haa ha! Ouch! She says \"Remember when we were 18 and we used to be out so late at night, sometimes we\'d see the sun come up? Remember we\'d be all the way up the coast (we\'re both from Vina) in Con-con or even further, and we\'d be waiting for -what seemed like- hours for a bus to appear?\" Now we\'re in our mid-fifties and we \"shake in our booties\" when we think about being out late at night in Chile. When she heard I was planning to go visit Chile in Sept. she advised me to wait a couple of more months so I could have my husband accompany me...\" Yeap... and the following night I read your blog... I think feeling unsafe being out late at night in Chile has to do with being, one, a foreigner, and two, older. In your case, it\'s obviously the first... ha haa! I have nieces close to your age and they give me heart attacks when I visit because they go out when I\'m ready to go to bed, and they take buses, colectivos and travel distances to reach a party, club, friend\'s houses, etc. and usually, by themselves. I think Chilean girls are used to it. They know no different because that\'s the environment in which they grew up and where they continue to live. But, of course, they do try to minimize the risk by NOT going to meet people at 1:00 am at Muelle Baron... ha haa ha! And, yes, here in Raleigh, I don\'t have to worry about keeping my purse tight against me because... you\'re right! I\'m in car! I\'m not exposed to people on the street. Just like you, here I go anywhere I want to go without giving it a thought simply because I get in my car and... drive there! In Chile, as a woman, you are 100% exposed when you rely on public transportation. It\'s a way of life there and girls already know the rules so you\'re at a disadvantage. As far as \"needing men\" to protect you, well, I think it\'s more of an issue of what I just said: Chilean girls already know the rules and you don\'t, that\'s why they feel you would be more in need of a \"male bodyguard\". That\'s why people suggest this to you. It\'s not like all girls need a male to accompany them everywhere -only the ones who -for one reason or another- are going to be out late or in areas that might be \"iffy\". Having said that, I agree that it\'s grating that you lose your independance after dark, but truth is, it all depends on where you are/go. Things have always been a bit more \"iffy\" in Valpo. (no matter what time of the day, really) than in Vina del Mar (my old hunting grounds... ha haa ha!). No offense intended -part of my family lives there. Be safe and remember where you are -not here! But don\'t let those safety measures (and common sense) stop you from enjoying this great experience that will most likely remain with you the rest of your life. Just enjoy it SAFELY! Best to you, Lucy
20th July 2012

Haha I told my mom about this comment when I got back home when she was again worried about me going out. I told her, "mom, this lady who used to live in Chile told me her and her friends used to go out late too but now that she's older they're more worried and cautious. Mom, you're just super worried because you're older now!" Hahaha That conversation went over well. :p

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