Rosario Dawson’s Mother’s Experience With Machismo Is All Too Familiar

Rosario Dawson and Katherine Heigl’s upcoming film, Unforgettable, is a “cautionary tale,” explained director, Denise Di Novi. “If you hinge your identity on being desired by a man or desirable by a man… if you believe all the cultural conditioning that you’re only valuable if you’re sexy and young – you’re screwed.”

The movie pits the two women against each other. Tessa Connover (Heigl) has to watch as her ex-husband moves on with his new lady, Julia Banks (Dawson), but she refuses to let them have a happily ever after. As the drama plays out, “we see these two women suffer as a result of that conditioning,” shared Di Novi.

It seems most of us have suffered because of that type of conditioning – though the majority of us won’t turn full-on psycho like Heigl’s character because of it. During a press junket for the film, Dawson, Heigl, and Di Novi – three women from different walks of life, revealed that cultural conditioning was something they could all relate to. Chances are, most of us can too. From a young age, women are told that our value is dependent on a man in some way. Can we get and secure a successful man? Are we good nurturers for that man? Will we stay looking fly so we can always appeal to that man? The list goes on and on.

Dawson added that conditioning is often passed on from generation to generation. The Afro-Latina recalled her mother’s experience growing up in a machismo-heavy environment.

“My great grandmother raised my grandmother and then my mom. You know, you had all these strong women in a house and my mom had four brothers in the house growing up, she has five all together, she’s the only girl. But she had to get up and do the cooking and the cleaning. And [when] my grandmother came from work, they fed [everyone]. My mom realized as an adult, later in life, that the reason she likes the crispier meat is because she always ate last. What a screwed up thing because she had these women – it was a matriarchal household, they were the breadwinners, but this conditioning was still passed on.”

How real is this?! There’s not a family party I’ve been to where I don’t see the men being served first, after the women have spent hours preparing the meals. Hopefully, with the knowledge and awareness Dawson has, the machismo chain can be broken in her family. After all, if we’re going to break the cycles of bad habits, the change has got to start with us.

Unforgettable is in theaters April 21.

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