Expat Surprise: Skirt Power in Bolivia

by missfootloose on March 5, 2011 · 11 comments

in Bolivia, Culture and Customs, traditions

Ever heard of women wrestlers dressed in long, full skirts? Maybe you have, but I have not. What I like about living in foreign countries is discovering new customs and learning new ways of looking at life. But sometimes you learn interesting things just sitting in your chair, and that is what I did recently: I just sat in my chair, in front of my computer, and bingo, I learned something interesting. About women wrestling men as well as each other while wearing long, full, skirts. In a country I have never lived in or even visited. So today I am cheating. I will not offer you a story of my own, but give you this fascinating little video about brave women in Bolivia called the Fighting Cholitas. If you’ve never heard of them, this video will be a treat. And after you’ve seen it, click on The Fighting Cholitas of Bolivia to see another short video with a excellent, narrated explanation in English. Don’t miss it.


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So what do you think?  What have you learned about women in other countries that surprised you?

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Ian March 5, 2011 at 11:02 am

Women here are circumcised. That surprised me.


missfootloose March 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm

“Here” meaning Oman? Yes, I’ve heard of that in the Arab world. It’s not just in Africa, sad to say.


Sailor March 5, 2011 at 4:07 pm

That was pretty cool. I should be very careful if I get a chance to go to Bolivia when dealing with women over there.


missfootloose March 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm

You should always be careful dealing with women, women anywhere 😉


Mara March 6, 2011 at 4:30 am

When I was in southern Italy a few years ago I was surprised at how the men still had the upper hand so much! The car could belong to the woman, but the man would always be driving. I would be stared at as I would turn a corner with my coach (tour bus). Men especially thought they would be able to get the better of me: hooting their horns and stuff. And then I would hoot my horn! They would stop then and the girls would just love it!

Emancipation seemed still a long way off…


missfootloose March 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Great story, Mara! I remember being invited to dinner at the house of Italian friends in a town south of Naples. The whole extended family was there, and they were aghast to hear stories of American and Dutch men doing dishes and changing the diapers/nappies of their babies. The women were envious and gave their men dirty looks. It was great.


MaryWitzl March 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm

I love those Bolivian women in their full skirts! If the skirts were tighter, I’ll bet they’d be a lot harder to wrestle in.

Japanese women tend to manage the family’s money and make a lot of important financial decisions. That surprises a lot of people who have a preconceived idea of subservient Asian women letting the men call the shots.


missfootloose March 9, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Yes, that does surprise me about Japanese women. Then again, behind closed doors in many societies, women often have more influence and power than you’d guess looking at them on the outside. Somehow women find a way 😉


GutsyWriter March 8, 2011 at 1:23 am

I had never heard of these female wrestlers and I must say I was surprised that they can beat the men with their intelligence rather than strength. I thought the men would still use force and win.
A pity they don’t earn more money though so they can become independent. Very interesting, but not something I’d like to do.


missfootloose March 9, 2011 at 3:11 pm

No, I wouldn’t want to wrestle in skirts either. Fortunately in our society and culture we have other ways to pit our strengths against men. And win 😉


Carlos Teran June 27, 2011 at 5:01 am

You seem to imply that it is impossible for Bolivian society to be egalitarian, but women’s freedom in Bolivia worsened when Europeans entered South America. In most traditional indigenous societies women held more respect and had more rights than in any European society or culture (Bolivia 60% indigenous), including that of the current United States. I am bolivian by the way.


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