Del Otro Lado by Susan Meyers

By Sandra Richwood and Yazmin Gonzalez

This semester in RLIT 6345 students worked in groups to read and discuss a professional book related to transnational or immigrant literacies. As part of their project, they wrote a post for this blog.

Del Otro Lado book coverMexico has never been known for feminism, or for women rights, but instead for something they so proudly believe in, “machismo” which entails the men have to provide for the family while the women stay at home, have kids and quit education all together. However women in Villachuato, Mexico do have access to education, starting with ‘primaria’ or primary, which the U.S. considers elementary (grades 1-6) and ‘secundaria’, which Mexico considers as middle school is up to 9th grade (grades 7-9) problem is, some women do not attend at all because they see no point to educating themselves, some although, attend to their education in Villachauto, but it’s never easy for many reasons: financial issues, mores of the community, family beliefs, and school climate.  It’s complex; Mexico’s history and curriculum have played a role.  Meyers interviewed six women on how literacy or formal literacy education played a role in their lives (Meyers, S, 2014).


Men and women have never been considered equal, especially in Mexico a place where the men take pride on being male, and the females have no other choice but to not believe in their worth. This demeanor is no stranger when it comes to education in general.  A man is inevitably going to work outside the home or have to migrate for work to the U.S. and the women are expected stay in the home alone and continue with their work (taking care of the children, cooking, washing, cleaning) and that’s only if they are married because if not their work will continue either to help their mother still being a “señorita” or being the talk to the town for being 18 and not married yet.

Esperanza was 100 years old, and lived through the Mexican Revolution that ended 1920.  Even though she never learned to read and write she had male neighbors do this for her, since being born a male got you the automatic right to attend school.  Through letters she gained a way to “choose” her suitors and later a husband, and now 30 years later, not much had changed (95).

Patricia’s mom suffers from depression, and Patricia has to leave school to help out at home.  She is has no choice in whom she marries, unlike men, who get to pick who they want, when they want.  However when Patricia learns, years later, that her grandparents had migrated to the U.S. and their children got an education, she saves up money and sends one of her youngest daughter to school for a better life.  She was unable to use the power of literacy but was able to this for least one of her daughters-even when her husband “shamed” his daughter because she was educated (96).

Elvira, a woman around Patricia’s age, mentions rumors about her grandfather murdering her grandmother, and that he left the family for another.  Her mom was orphaned, neglected and resented Elvira.  Elvira never had a chance for an education because her mother made it too difficult by not purchasing school supplies or a required uniform because she was the youngest, and in Mexico the youngest is expected to stay home and care for their parents. Elvira later marries and moves to the U.S. for economic reasons, yet returned to her hometown “Villachuato”, unlike must women there, Elvira chose to empower her children-sons and daughter (99-101) she did want her children to have the opportunity of an education, like Cynthia, who went to school and studied more for cosmetology.

These are real life testimonies from real women living in a small town in Michoacán Mexico, where life expectancy is 100. Literacy although offered, is mostly taken for granted, for lack of opportunities, lack of respect but mostly for lack of knowledge, like previously mentioned, not much has changed in over 30 years and at this rate it doesn’t seem like it’s going to.

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