The cultural preference to males is quite apparent in Chile. The men mainly work the high-paying jobs while the wives typically stay at home, raise the kids, cook dinner etc. This traditional mindset unfortunately leads to a concept called "Machimso" or in English "Macho-ism". This is the concept that males need to be super macho. They do all of the work and women wait on their heels.
This concept is VERY apparent in Chile. It shows in the male/female dynamics of everyday life stemming from the young to the old. Typically the worse situations are the ones that include older couples, much like my host-parents. Yet it occurs and is indoctrinated from old to young. My host-parents, for example, are an excellent example of the machismo culture. My host-mom does not work, she stays at home and cleans, cooks dinner, etc. When my host-father comes home from work, he sits at the table and waits for her to serve her EVERYTHING that he needs. If she is sitting too with him/us on the opposite side of the table, he will just say, "There is no spoon" and she will go running. This is shown in many other ways in their relationship. It stems down to the entire family. My host-sister, 43, also is expected to do a lot more work around the kitchen/house even though she works 6 more hours a week than my host father. My host brother, 27, goes to school and works, but nowhere near full-time and he does not do a thing around the house. I have not seen my host-father nor host-brother do a single piece of housework (besides electronics and carpentry) or anything in the kitchen.
When I ask to help clean up after a meal, the women in the family look at me as if it is absolutely unnecessary. It seems they would prefer otherwise. I feel my host-brother and father also do not like when I do it. Yet, if I can have any impact on them in a positive way, I am going to continue
A story that exemplifies this relationship and the inequality between men and women concerns the first time my girlfriend came over to my house to meet my host-family. After a grand pasta dinner, I asked like I always do if I could help and my host-mother responds, "No, my son, just rest". And then my girlfriend proceeded to ask if she could help and my host-mother response, "Yea, of course". I also helped clean up to not make the situation worse.
My girlfriend, Rhiannon, who is also down here in Chile, is a Gender Studies minor and is doing a research project on the role of females in the Catholic Church. She has come up with some fascinating observations. Understandably, a lot of these machismo values stem from the prevalence of the Catholic Church in Chile (72% of the population are Roman Catholic).
Regardless, it is a phenomenon that is improving, however, with the increase in education and publicity of women as leaders. Yet, interestingly enough, in a country that is less traditional, more modern such as the U.S., we have never had a woman president and in Chile, a more traditional nation had a woman president in office and was adored.