5452 - Men, Money and Care in Cuban Romantic Relationships

In the context of day-to-day relationships, Cuban men frequently contribute money, gifts of food and other forms of material support to the women with whom they desire a romantic involvement. Via ethnographic evidence from post-Soviet Havana, this paper examines how money and other forms of material contributions represent a male form of care in Cuba. In the context of such flows of material support from men to women, several types of negotiations take place. Special attention is paid to the gendered aspects of these negotiations. For women, men’s material contributions intertwine with notions of responsibility and care. However, while to a degree, men share the women’s view of their material contributions, they at times accuse women of exploiting their limited material resources, for being greedy abusadoras instead of seeing their contributions as part of a reciprocal gendered exchange between men and women in romantic relations, where women respond with domestic chores and sexual favors. In the rapidly changing context of post-Soviet Cuba, such tensions in gender relations tend to increase when a Cuban man’s relatively meager income has to compete with foreign tourist money for a woman’s affections. Moreover, in the context of shaking state socialism that traditionally has stressed the importance of women’s full-time work and economic independence, such contributions of material resources from men carry several moral ambiguities.

Keywords: Cuba, gender, romance, money, socialism

Author: Harkonen, Heidi (University of Helsinki, Finland / Finnland)


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