I had a interesting conversation with a fellow Californian the other night. We got in touch througha ex-coworker of mine and I asked her to dinner. She has been living and working here for almost two years with her Argentine boyfriend. One of the conversation topics was the difference between Argentine men and American men. Talk to any other female who has visited or lived in Buenos Aires and they will tell you that the men here are very blunt when expressing their feelings towards females. On our way to the restaurant, men yelled from across the street "que linda!", which means how nice, how beautiful. I asked Valkyrie about it because it wasn't the first time I have encountered this and she explained that Argentine men believe it is their duty to make women feel beautiful. They want to make sure we are getting the attention we deserve, and of course to bring attention to themselves. This of course is just one perspective, but after weeks of observation it seems right on point. Valkyrie and I both agreed that in the states, it is very rare to hear a stranger pay a compliment as you walk by, unless they are intoxicated or with their friends. This behavior is part of the culture here and to further attest, when I was walking home from the grocery store yesterday a boy who wasn't more than 13 or 14 years old looked me up and down as I walked past him on the sidewalk and yelled out behind me "que bonita!" I gave him a smile a wave back to show my gratitude. It was at this point I decided to embrace this cultural difference. She further explained, and her having a boyfriend who is included in this category I listened closely, that Argentine men play the power position, period.
Two nights later Matt and I both went out to dinner with her and some friends to a persian restaurant. One of the girls had been there before so we agreed that she should order for the whole table. Our waiter brought the bottle of wine over and poured it in Matt's cup to taste. Matt offered for the girl to taste it since she picked it out but out waiter just stared at Matt, waiting for him to take the cup. He did and after we all laughed at how enforced these gender rules really are.
Now onto the female role. Keep in mind this is just one viewpoint and there are always exceptions. However, what I have most heard and seen is that the female role is to look beautiful and put together, which in turn balances out the power difference between men and women. The women do not want to be out of control, so I have found that they drink less. It is unlady like to be sloppy and unreserved.
When it was Valkyrie and I at dinner, the waiter brought us our check and notified us that we get a 20% discount because we are girls eating on Thursday. How gracious of them! Not to mention almost every Thursday night and at least one weekend night, girls get some kind of deal whether it be free drinks, discount on food, free entrance or free showings. This incentive for female participation is nothing new, but it sure does happen here more than anywhere I have been!