According to the American Journal of Public Health, machismo sexual behavior is a source of pride for males and men must prove their manliness by upholding their sexual dominance. In this way, reputation is one of the driving forces behind machismo. We see this prides affect in How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents by Julia Alvarez .
The character Mr. Garcia’s negative practice of machismo affect the lives of his four daughters: Yolanda, Sandra, Carla, and Sofia. Not only does it stirs up a rebellion in the girls, declaring themselves “feminists” it causes insecurities and other problems. However, the sexist idea comes under more observation in the United States than in the Dominican Republic, even though there is still sexism in the United States. In order to understand characters like Mr. Garcia and his views on why his daughters need constant supervision and need to be chastise in order to keep the family name untainted, which seems overbearing and almost dictator like.
The Garcia girls struggle to balance the machismo of their father that is like the Dominican Republic, and the male chauvinists in America. Sexism is everywhere they turn. They cannot keep up with the desires of their father to maintain their passive femininity. Every decision each of the daughters have made are based on their father’s perspectives and desires. [insert quote] Yoland for example, aspires to become a poet but because it does not meet her father expectations, he crushes her dreams [ insert reference]. This causes her to look judge herself based on what her father views- someone who is incapable of writing. Alvarez opens the novel with the girls in their adult lives but the how men impact, especially the father’s control. She writes, “ They would gather together, without husbands, would-be husbands…For this too was part of the tradition: the daughters came home alone. The apartment was too small for everyone, the father argued. Surely their husbands could spare them for one night?” (Alvarez 24). Compared to the tradition in America, where daughters bring home their husbands, boyfriends, or fiances to meet their parents to determine their fit in the family. Mr. Garcia did not allow any of the other men in the girls life come to celebrate. It is notes that when the Garcia girls come to visit, their father gives them money filled envelopes knowing that he can still provide for his girls in someway.
This reflects the machismo in Mr. Garcia, that he is the macho man and has the pride and need to continue to provide. [insert study] The author continues to express the effects of machismo on the girls and how it impacts their feminine identity concerning their relationship with men. “There had been several divorces among them, including Yolanda’s. The oldest child … had married the analyst she’d been seeing when her first marriage broke up … The second one was doing a lot of drugs to keep her weight down. The youngest had just gone off with a German man when they discovered she was pregnant.” (Alvarez 52). It seems that the Garcia girls cannot have stable relationships with men, and it derived from their father- who is aggressive, assertive, and reserved. They continue to look for a man like that of their father. [insert study] When the daughters are dating in hopes of getting married, the father finds that no man is good enough for his daughters.
The only time that he is in accord it is with a man that has many things in common with Mr. Garcia, however, these men usually do not have good intentions. And this is intermeddling with his daughter’s life and happiness . The author expresses how machismo of the Garcia girl’s father irritates the girls with how the husbands feel about Mr. Garcia. “The husbands would just as soon have not gone to their in-laws, but they felt annoyed at the father’s strutting. ‘When’s he going to realize you’ve grown up? You sleep with us!’”(Alvarez 24). The husbands are implying that they aren’t comfortable how the father walks around with his daughters like trophies. The only husband that Mr. Garcia grows accustomed to is Otto- Sofia’s husband. This is presumed because Sofia gave birth to the only male child in the family.
However, Mr. Garcia does not forgive Sofia for her actions but chooses to make amends with Sofia’s husband. It is very clear the Mr. Garcia understands the amount of power her holds within his family. The girls can never escape their father’s image because “standing up to their father was a different matter altogether. Even as grown women, they lowered their voices in their father’s ear shot when alluding to their body pleasures.”(Alvarez 47). Their father has been able to manipulate with fear as leverage. The girls honor and love their father so much that they fear in displeasing him, because they have done so in the past. It is from not just the negative responses from Mr. Garcia but also other men that cause the girls to have psychological breakdowns.
This is seen when Yolanda divorces John and has a mental breakdown- losing the meaning of language. Alvarez expresses the amount of psychological disconnects the Garcia sisters have experienced when the doctor says to Mrs. Garcia “ ‘You mean other daughters have also had breakdowns? Bad men is what they’ve had’ “(Alvarez 52). It is not only the bad men in the girls lives that impact their breakdowns it is also their father’s continuous reflections. The girls continue to look for resemblance of their father in other men. This leads them to unhealthy relationships and their father being able to continue having a part in their lives. Machismo is a strong characteristic of many men in the latin community, with the need to provide and control their household. Alvarez depicted the impact that a father with machismo qualities can do their daughter’s lives and their expectation in men.
The mental impact is strong, as it has been seen that the Garcia girls mental breakdowns all came full circle to their father, who wants to continuously be there to provide for his married-educated daughters. Causing irritation with their husbands, and marital problems. The girls are constantly pulled between two cultures: America and the Dominican Republic. Both having their sexist moments. As can be seen when Carla had the interaction with the man in the car who flashed her compared to the men in the Dominican Republic. Their father is a minor character but his machismo plays such a strong role in all his daughter’s lives.