Whenever a chica is ready
I am a 22-year-old Mexican-American woman, still living with my parents but going to college, working full time and taking care of myself financially. I grew up in a very traditional Mexican household, youngest of four kids, and we were all born in the United States. I’m unmarried but with a steady boyfriend I have been with for four years. My family is proud of me. I’m the only one of my cousins who was not in gangs, didn’t leave with the boyfriend at 15 and is doing something with her life, and still I get shit for not being married at my age! Why? My aunts, uncles, cousins, distant relatives ask me the same question every time I see them: “¿Y cuando te casas?” I’d rather not go to family gatherings because this is the main topic of discussion. I thought getting married too young was wrong. Here I am, thinking that if I go to college, graduate and then get married, that was going to make everyone proud of me. Boy, was I wrong! So, enlighten me: What is the right age for a Mexican girl to get married?
—Soon to Wed, ¡Ya Que!
Déjame get wonky for a bit before answering your question. No reliable current stats for the median age of first marriage for women in the United States exist anymore, but the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth, co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics, noted something interesting. It showed that 10 percent of Latinas (mostly mexicanas, of course) marry for the first time by age 18, compared with 6 percent of gabachas. And Latinas marry for the first time at a younger age in a greater rate than gabachas until 24, by which time an equal percentage (roughly 50) of Mexican mujeres and gabachas have married for the first time. After that, the trends reverse, and Mexican women tend to delay their first marriage at higher levels than gabachas. So Mexican women generally marry younger, but not in the ridiculously overblown numbers Know Nothings trot out to justify demonizing us as sexual deviants.
Ahora, to your question, Soon to Wed: The right age para casarte is whenever a girl is ready. The Mexican recommends chicas get a good career before paying attention to wooing pendejos and reminds them that men of all razas want women only to take care of their chorizo and huevos. Your family giving you a hard time just because you dare delay? Que se vayan a la chingada. Or, in the language of the Bard: Tell ’em to slag off.
It has been said that George W. Bush and Vicente Fox made an agreement years ago whereby the United States would allow unchecked illegal immigration presumably to give greedy American corporations cheap labor while taking pressure off of the Mexican government to provide food, medical care and social welfare for the rapidly growing, poverty-stricken Mexican population and thus averting a revolution. Perhaps we should have sent our Internal Revenue Service to aid the Mexican government in reining in taxes from the fabulously wealthy class down there. I guess a socialized welfare state in Mexico for Mexicans is taboo, while everyone expects the United States to provide social welfare for up to 40 million Mexicans over the next few years. The IRS will make it happen here, so why not in Mexico?
—Chazz From Chooger Land, Tejas
Actually, the two countries signed their gentleman’s agreement in 1848, when Mexico gifted el Norte with half of its territory with the provision the United States create a financial system that forever relied on cheap labor. And the Pew Hispanic Center’s “Statistical Portrait of Hispanics in the United States, 2006” estimates based on U.S. Census figures that Mexicans of all stripes number 30 million, and foreign-born wabs a mere third or so of that amount, with the illegal portion even smaller. As for the IRS, I may be Mexican, but I ain’t no dummy—no comment on our finest of institutions.