Gender Roles in the Dominican Republic

Photo of vintage RD stamp with artwork of women holding hands in a circle.

1975 Dominican Republic stamp celebrating International Women’s Day. Photo © Stephen Goodwin.

Like many Latin American countries, the Dominican Republic exhibits a strong, male-oriented culture, much of which was inherited from Spanish colonialists. Latino machismo, an exaggerated sense of masculine power, is very prevalent here. Dominican men carry the hefty reputation of being womanizers. Performing acts that flaunt sexual prowess is central to the macho attitude. Leering, bold comments, gestures, and the ever-so-infamous hissing noise made toward women of all ages and types that pass by are just some of the ways they flaunt their colors. Simply ignoring them will usually stop the behavior. The more you engage with them, the more they keep at it. It is not so much meant as a direct pass as it is about proving importance to themselves and other men and to make themselves feel secure.

Slaying the machismo dragon is a hard battle, but one that Dominican women are more than ready for.While women in the Dominican Republic have made gigantic strides toward equality, there is still work to be done. Today, women make up a majority of high school and college graduates and are increasing the likelihood of getting jobs and pay equal to those of men. Slaying the machismo dragon is a hard battle, but one that Dominican women are more than ready for. Still, they play the game as hard as men do with a flirtatious nature.

On the home front, women are usually in charge of organizing and maintaining all family rituals and events, while men maintain the traditional role of being “head of the household” and the figure of authority. One of the foundations of Dominican culture is their sense of family, and women are what hold that together.

While many Dominican men are worried about proving their sexual prowess, many Dominican women are very concerned with their physical appearance. A great amount of pressure is put on women of all ages to be thin, and women spend hours on their hair, straightening it to look more “European” or desirable to men.


Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Dominican Republic.


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