From the Washtub to the Washing Machine

From a distance you feel the strokes… bam, bam, bam. The arm raises the thick fat stick and then lets it falls hard on the twisted sheet. The spray of lather explodes with every stroke and white water seeping from dirty fabric mixes with the river. It is very early, the sun barely up, and already the clotheslines are waiting for with damp clothes that must dry in the morning. The woman is exhausted. From the time she was a teenager she has washed her and her family’s clothing in this way. What other choice did she have? In that little village lost in the eastern mountains all her neighbors did the same. At times as she slept her body would move restlessly in the bed and repeat the hint of a movement: up… down… bam… bam… bam.

Lately the discussion of women’s emancipation in Cuba has been focused on persuading us of its extent, showing the numbers of women in parliament. There is also talk — in the official mass media — of how many have managed to climb into administrative positions, or to lead an institution, a scientific center or a business. However, very little is said about the sacrifice involved for them in managing in these positions with their busy domestic schedules and material shortages. You only have to look at the faces of those over forty to note the tense frown common in so many Cuban woman. It is the mark left by a daily life where a good part of the time must be dedicated to burdensome and repetitive tasks. One of these is the laundry, which many of our countrywomen do, at least a couple of times a week, by hand and in very tough conditions. Some do not even have running water in their homes.

In a country where a washing machine costs an entire year’s salary, we can’t talk about women’s emancipation. Facing the washtub and the brush, or the boiler filled with baby diapers bubbling on the firewood, thousands of women pass many hours of their lives. The situation becomes more difficult if we move away from the capital and look at the hands of the women who clean, with the strength of their fingers, the shirts, pants and even the military uniforms of their families. Their hands are knotted, stained white by the soap or detergent in which they’re immersed for hours. Hands belie statistics about emancipation and the fabricated gender quotas, with which they try to convince us otherwise.

aurika80-225x300

1980s Aurika washing machine imported from the USSR to Cuba and still used by many Cuban families … in the absence of another.Photo from museodelanostalgia.blogspot.ch

Other texts with this theme: With Clitoris and With Rights; Violence Against Woman.

107 thoughts on “From the Washtub to the Washing Machine

  1. “LA FLACA” IS OUT OF JOSE MARTI AIRPORT AND BACK TO THE ISLAND JAIL OF CUBA! LET’S KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR HER NO MATTER WHAT! DONT TRUST THOSE CASTROFASCITS AT ALL!

    YAHOO NEWS: Cuban blogger Sanchez back after world tour

    HAVANA (AP) — Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez is back home after a more than three-month globe-trotting tour that has turned her into the most internationally recognizable face in the island’s small dissident community.

    Sanchez has been on the road since Feb. 17 and visited more than a dozen countries in Europe and the Americas.

    She was allowed to go abroad by a new travel reform law ending a longtime requirement that all Cubans obtain official permission to travel abroad.

    Previously, government critics who are officially branded as traitorous “counterrevolutionaries” were routinely denied such exit visas.

    Sanchez tweeted Thursday evening that her flight from Spain had touched down in Havana and she was waiting to pass through customs and immigration.

    news.yahoo.com/cuban-blogger-sanchez-back-world-tour-233327852.html

  2. Nick,

    You’re very welcome.

    It is unfortunate that the “poor” and everybody else in the USA eat way too much, get obese and get so many heart attacks.

    That’s the trouble with prosperity and freedom, we don’t maximize our longevity.

    I think education is the only answer, not forced hunger.

    I hope you live long too Nick, I recommend a maximum of one small meal every other day.

    I’m not kidding, that’s what a doctor friend who knows his stuff tells me. And avoid the British fatty stuff, stick with rice and beans.

    And if you want to live in a place with great statistics, I recommend you move to a country where a dictator makes them up.

    Hope this helps.

  3. Help and Humby,

    Thanks for all the advice regarding dodgy capitalist businessmen and corruption.
    It means a lot to me that you want to keep me out of jail.

    And I appreciate the way you both obviously wish to open my eyes to all that bad stuff that’s out there.

    I wish you both long and happy lives.

    Maybe Humby will live way past 80.4 years of age and one day will be president of the Californian branch of Club 120.

  4. Nick! NO NEED TO THANK ME DEAR! THE C.I.A. SALARY AND U.S.A.I.D. STIPEND I GET MAKES ME A MAN OF LEISURE! JE JE JE!

    YAHOO NEWS: Cuba’s aging population will test economic reform – by ANDREA RODRIGUEZ

    HAVANA (AP) — The scene at Havana’s Victor Hugo Park is unfortunately typical, with a handful of boys kicking a soccer ball through trees while dozens of gray-haired seniors bend and stretch to the urgings of a government-employed trainer.

    So few children, so many elderly. It’s a central dilemma for a nation whose population is the oldest in Latin America, and getting older.

    The labor force soon will be shrinking as health costs soar, just when President Raul Castro’s government is struggling to implement reforms that aim to resuscitate an economy long on life support.

    “We must be perfectly clear that the aging of the populace no longer has a solution,” Castro’s economic czar, Marino Murillo, told lawmakers in an alarmed tone last month. “It is going to happen, and that cannot be changed in the short term. … Society must prepare itself.”

    The aging of Cuba’s population has its roots in some of the core achievements of Fidel Castro’s revolution, including a universal health care system that has increased life expectancy from 69 years during the 1960s to 78 today, comparable with the United States.

    Abortions are free and it is estimated that half of Cuban pregnancies are terminated. High university graduation rates, generally associated worldwide with low fertility numbers, have Cuban women averaging 1.5 children, below the rate of replacement.

    Cuba’s National Office of Statistics says about 2 million of the island’s 11 million inhabitants, or 17 percent, were over 60 years old last year. That’s already high compared to Latin America as a whole, where the rate is somewhere north of 9 percent, extrapolating from U.N. figures from 2000.

    That U.N. study shows Cuba’s population is aging even faster than that of China, which has forbidden couples to have more than one child. Cuba’s rate would be typical in a wealthy European nation. But Cuba lacks the wealth to cope with it.

    The trend is accelerating, with the number of seniors projected to nearly double to 3.6 million, or a third of the population, by 2035. During the same period, working-age Cubans are expected to decline from 65 percent to 52 percent.

    The future may look a lot like Emelia Moreno. Still vigorous at 75 years old, she lives alone in a small apartment in Central Havana and spends much of her time at a neighborhood senior center that provides 1,000 retirees with medical attention, meals and social activities such as singing and dance classes.

    “Cuba is fighting so that people of a certain age don’t feel too bad,” she said.

    But her only child left for the U.S. a decade ago, and she knows that one day she’ll be completely dependent on the government because she has no family to take care of her when she cannot.

    “I had heard people talk about how they felt empty when a family member left, but I had no idea,” Moreno said, caressing a photo of her daughter, Yeniset.

    The graying trend can be traced partly to the country’s weak economy, resulting in the loss of people such as Yeniset, an outflow of 35,000 per year as people seek opportunity in the United States and elsewhere.

    Research shows emigrants are increasingly women of child-bearing age, which compounds the problem, according to Alberta Duran, who was among the first to examine the aging trend before retiring from her post at a Cuban sociological research institute.

    “The aging population has been turning into Cuba’s biggest demographic problem since the 1990s,” Duran said.

    CLICK LINK FOR ENTIRE ARTICLE!

    news.yahoo.com/cubas-aging-population-test-economic-reform-183548541–finance.html

  5. Nick! IM SURE YOU MEANT THIS “120 CLUB” DEAR? GUESS THE BAD OLD U.S.A. IS AHEAD OF THE GAME IN LONGEVITY AGAINST THE CASTRO’S “GRAND ANTHROPOLOGICAL EXPERIMENT”!!

    THE HAVANA REPORTER: The 120 Years Club: Longer, Healthier Living – May 15 ,2013

    HAVANA._ About nine years ago, Cuba launched an interesting initiative to encourage the promotion of active and satisfactory aging: The 120 Years Club.

    In an interview with The Havana Reporter, the club’s president, Dr. Eugenio Selman, explained that the club was created to meet the needs of older adults in Cuba, where the life expectancy is 77.9 years and where more than 1,550 people are over 100 years old, the largest such proportion in the world.

    Selman, 82, is a professor at the Calixto García teaching hospital in the Cuban capital.

    “The 120 Years Club project welcomes people of all ages who aspire to live to the age of 120, with the goal of preparing them for a satisfactory, productive old age. This is a common goal in modern times, and it has been scientifically proven that it can be attained if certain requirements are met,” Selman said.

    havanareporternews.com/cuba/120-years-club-longer-healthier-living

  6. YES Nick! WE HAVE THAT “120” CLUB HERE IN THE BAD OLD U.S.A. TOO, AND IT’S A HIGHER PERCENT THAN IN CUBA DEAR! YOU MUST TAKE NOTE THAT CUBA’S POPULATION IS A LOT OLDER THAN THE BAD OLD USA SO IT SHOULD HAVE A HIGHER NUMBER OF CENTENARIANS!! JE JE JE!

    CUBA POPULATION: 11.25 million (1,550 centenarians) = 14% of population

    U.S.POPULATION: 313.9 million (53,364 centenarians in 2010) = 17% of population

    US NEWS: What People Who Live to 100 Have in Common – U.S. residents in several states live considerably longer than the rest of the country

    A growing number of Americans are living to age 100. Nationwide, the centenarian population has grown 65.8 percent over the past three decades, from 32,194 people who were age 100 or older in 1980 to 53,364 centenarians in 2010, according to new Census Bureau data. In contrast, the total population has increased 36.3 percent over the same time period. Centenarians in the United States are considerably different from the overall population. Here’s a look at some of the characteristics of people who live to age 100:

    http://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2013/01/07/what-people-who-live-to-100-have-in-common

Comments are closed.