My trip to Quisqueya was quite insightful, on many levels. I went to go reconnect with my family, do some investigative work on how the inherent racism in the culture is being written about and hearing people’s thoughts on the subject and to make connections for future trips. I can’t help but to make a socio-political analysis of things I see and experience when I’m in my daily life here in the United States; being out of the country is no different. Patriarchy reared its ugly head of course and I, of course, have some thoughts on it.
The presidential elections are coming up in the next month for the country. The two candidates, Danilo Medina for the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD) and Hipólito Mejía for the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), are hard at work campaigning and gaining support respectively for what looks like a close race to the presidential office. I wasn’t familiar with Medina but had some knowledge of Mejia from his previous presidency in 2000, the biggest critique of him being the lack of tact and eloquence in the way he expressed his ideas. I’m not going to discuss his character or anything about who I think should win (I am bias though; the PRD is left-leaning and I am very sympathetic to left-leaning politics). I will though comment on his campaign and the patriarchal undertone of it.
So, presidential campaigns have slogans as we all know. Part of the PLD’s slogan is “El Cambio Seguro” (A Secure Change). The PRD’s slogan is two-fold; one is “Un Mejor Pais, Pero Para Todos,” (A Better Country, But For Everyone) and the most popular one is, “Llego Papa” (Daddy Has Arrived). Now, before I go into why I have an issue with this, PAPA is an acronym for the values of the campaign, candidate and the PRD. From the research I’ve done on what the PRD is proposing, I can be supportive of him assuming the presidency this year. That’s not what this is about though.
The first time I saw the “Llego Papa” commercial, my first response was, “I have a father already.” The slogan annoys me. It is the perpetuation of the idea that we as people should revere and honor the masculine energy as savior. It is a reflection of the belief in a male God and the continued negation of the goddess. It conveys this idea that a man is our sole protector, and with the added paternal layer, and we as a people would do good to obey and listen to him. Using the slogan “Llego Papa,” is a play on the machismo that already exists in the country and in the world, pulling on familial heart strings of people to see Mejia as a paternal figure. This is no different than here in the United States and our favorite term of endearment for the system, Uncle Sam. It’s a psychological game calling forth the brainwashed subconscious in which we value a male leader much more than competent and able female ones. It creates this idealized vision of finally having the father that is often absent, especially in communities of marginalized folks who have missing fathers due to the trauma and systemic methods of breaking families apart.
Futhermore, the term “daddy” as it is used in a sexual context a la Usher’s “Daddy’s Home” song is problematic. That word appears way too often as a request that a womyn call a man that word, further highlighting how so often womyn look for a male figure in their life that resembles a father (I been there). What ends up happening is that we have a situation where little girls are manipulated into sexual experiences far before they should be engaged in them. The term “Daddy” out of context is alarming and actually gross. I find nothing sexy about calling a lover “Daddy”. That doesn’t even make sense. Now, I do understand the use of “mami” and “papi” as terms of endearment; it is very common in the Latino culture. Still, there is a sexualization of it that is not okay and indicative of this idea that our psyche craves this omnipotent father-eque savior in all aspects of our lives.
Mejia, I do wish you much success with your campaign and there is a part of me that is rooting for you because of my left-leaning/humanist values. You are not my father. Back up.