En Espanol la Vida es differente
In Spanish Life is Different
“All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”--Shakespeare
Social interaction in our world is merely unavoidable. Goffman uses the term Dramaturgy to describe what Shakespeare also said, men and women are actors of social interaction, thus social interaction should be studied in terms of theatrical performance. The set of characteristics that a person is willing to display to people they encounter day to day-- in class, on the train, or anywhere else in public are those characteristics that Goffman refers to as front stage behaviors. In opposition, the characteristics that are displayed to a select few and far between people, those whom we consider close friends or family are characteristics Goffman calls back stage behaviors. Front stage and back stage behaviors are a form of presentation of ourselves to other people we interact with. We give off cues that show people how we want to be treated.
As a Latina I feel very proud of my heritage, but many of you who will start to read this might start thinking otherwise until you hear my reasoning and the reactions I received from my breaching experiment. Spanish is my first language and English my second. I can read and write in Spanish to this day. But the one thing I will not do and have not done for a long time is talk in Spanish to others whom aren’t family or close friends. For a long time I have refused to talk to people who I encounter (outside my work place) in Spanish. Sometimes I can hear it in the other persons voice as they struggle to communicate with me and I won’t talk to them in Spanish, I direct this mostly to men. I don’t do this because I take joy doing it, but I have a strong belief that speaking in Spanish to a person lets them into what Goffman calls back stage behavior.
I recently discovered that I am treated differently by men when the interaction is in Spanish. If I speak to a person in Spanish, it is like automatically leading them to believe we have a personal relationship, what Goffman called Back Stage behavior. [AKH2] Through my experiment, I feel as if the person who I did speak Spanish to felt like they can relate more to me because I speak Spanish, and they cannot, he continues to ask me questions (what my name was, what I did for a living) the more he asked the more uncomfortable I felt, to the point I had to just walk away.
I decide to keep Spanish as a language to use amongst those who are close friends and family. My worst experience took place after I went out of my norm and did exchange some words in Spanish with a man at the supermarket. I have frequented this supermarket for years and never have I ever felt as uncomfortable in a place as I did after I had spoken to the man in Spanish. He constantly would follow me around and his friends, also Latinos, now reacted differently to my presence. During my next visit to the super market after having a very short exchange of words with the man I had the worst experience I can say I have had as a women. I was harassed at every corner of the store, again a place I have been to many times. I never felt this uncomfortable in a place as I did that day. I had the men staring at me, one of them went as far as to sing in Spanish some stupid love song every time I came close.
After this experience I have to say that I would rather be called a snob and not speak Spanish. It is out of my norm and a behavior I associate with those I use who are closest to me, Spanish is part of my back stage behavior. I don’t want people feeling as if they know me just because we speak the same language. My front stage behavior in encounters with Latinos will remain stand offish, and I will not speak in Spanish. Just because I speak Spanish does not mean we have had the same struggles, that you can ask me question, or that I am some sort of object that can be harassed because people feel that I am just another Latina women, however that is defined to them.