Do Women Keep Households Running in Cuba?

By Nike                                                               

HAVANA TIMES — I want to share my impression with you on this subject and find out whether the answer to my question is yes or no depending on the examples I can give you.

In the afternoon, after every working day, nearly all the women I know or see on the street go home carrying everything they might need there. From food, a tap for the sink to even shoes for their child to go to school in.

This is added to the discomfort of having to go home on a full bus where men don’t show any kindness. I don’t want to make a sweeping judgement but this is something I experience and see every day.

This is something that has caught my attention because it’s something that even we women don’t talk about very much and because there are more and more women who are taking money home and putting food on the table.

For example, I know a woman who works in a kitchen and she goes home loaded with food and anything else she might find for home, where her husband only sits around waiting for her to put his meal on the table.

Another is a jinetera (sex worker) and the husband approves of this or looks the other way so that he can also live off her “work” and she also takes care of all the domestic chores.

Another woman is a self-employed hairdresser and she spends all day working her guts out and then like the example above, she goes home and does all the domestic chores.

Another, a lot younger than the previous women, who works as a maid in a casa particular rental and takes home a toothbrush, some sweets, chocolates or other kinds of food that the guests give her. She also has to pick up the kids from school, cook, clean and then exhausted at night, she tends to her husband’s needs.

Meanwhile, men in the best of cases are OK with an income and believe that they don’t have to do anything else because of that. They just put their feet up on the sofa, watch baseball or soccer. Meanwhile, the woman after insisting they do something, ends up sorting out everything around the house herself.

I could give you a lot more examples of Cuban women who keep their households going; something that pains me at the same time and also inspires my admiration as I know that Cuban women are able to confront all of current life’s challenges alone. It’s just that these challenges should be for her own self-fulfillment as a human being. Don’t you think? 

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    The article pretty much sums up the reality of Cuba and the expectation by men that the women work at a job during the day and then do all the housework in addition. Cuba unfortunately inherited the macho system from Spain, where the men are frequently indolent – even having the siesta.
    My wife cannot get a bus to bring her home from work, she uses her bicycle. I do most of the shopping and a proportion of the kitchen work – cooking, dish washing etc. But i am not allowed to wash clothes or do the weekly floor scrub, for my wife regards those as her tasks.
    Perhaps all that accounts for the response my wife gave when we married and I asked her why a lady with her talents was single, she said:
    “I would never marry a Cuban man, they are too macho, we are different because we are equal.”

  • Gerard Matthews

    The male of the sexes can be such an arse when he wishes to be. This macho image is o so childish and stupid. When a couple live together either being married or co-habiting they should respect each other and divide the chores around the home. If the behaviour described in the article is widespread then i cannot see Cuba and it’s people making much progress in the equality stakes. Come on people a bit of give and take is called for here .

  • Eden Wong

    This is common throughout Latin America, but especially so in Cuba. The men are treated like spoiled babies from birth and this continues throughout their lives. Cuban women can complain, but the vast majority of them happily comply.