Not Much of a Woman – Es Poca Mujer

by Melanie Edwards on March 24, 2011 · 18 comments

in Latino Culture, Women

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Woman Burned Out

Es poca mujer.” These were words I heard at various points growing up and that have stuck with me. Literally it means “she’s not much of a woman,” but the phrase is used to mean a woman is not strong enough or cannot handle a situation. For example, if a woman is unable to handle her responsibilities as a mother, wife, and home manager, then some might say, “es poca mujer.”

The phrase has never been said about me, at least not to my face. I’ve heard it said by my mom, mostly, but also other family members in reference to other women we know. In all honesty, it seems like such a judgmental and harsh phrase to me. Of course, it goes back to something I’ve written about before – how in our Latino culture, women and moms especially, are somewhat expected to be super women. The result of not being able to balance it all is to be called out as “not good enough.”

Do you know how often I could be called “poca mujer” based on that definition? I try hard to get many things done and meet a lot of self-imposed expectations, but I would cringe if someone ever told me it wasn’t good enough. I can only do the best I can and really, who besides me can truly know what a successful day entails? Success for our family is probably different than it is for yours. So, for someone else to call me “poca mujer,” or to call anyone that, seems a bit cruel.

To me, saying “es poca mujer” about a woman is equivalent to calling her weak. And to call a woman weak because she is not able to keep up with so many aspects of her life – mainly those involving caring for others – well, it’s just wrong, isn’t it?

Are you familiar with the phrase? What are your thoughts on how it’s used?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Latinaish March 25, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Agreed, Melanie. Women juggle so much and even the best can’t keep all the balls in the air all the time. It doesn’t mean we’re weak, it means we’re human -and other women/mothers – of all people – should know that better than anyone. It’s time for women to stop judging each other in general. We have enough to deal with without tearing each other down on top of it.


modernmami April 6, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Love this so much. You always have a way of saying just the right words. 🙂


Patty March 25, 2011 at 6:40 pm

I do remember hearing this phrase when I was growing up. Especially when my mom was telling us that we had to learn to cook, iron, work, take care of the baby and our husbands or we’d be a “poca mujer”. I’m happy to say I’ve heard it less and less because some of those responsibilites now don’t only fall to the woman. A husband can make dinner or work from home or change a diaper. I’d like to think we should be eveolving in our way of thinking.

I agree with you though on how can someone else really measure what you define as a successful day. The answer is simple…they can’t. If we do what we can with what we have how can anyone call that anything less than successful.

Great Post!


modernmami April 6, 2011 at 6:42 pm

OMG! You got that same speech from your mom? It’s as if we had the same mom! I got the “tienes que aprender a cocinar y limpiar, para poder cuidar de tu esposo” And yes, things are different now, but some of the older generation still has the same line of thinking…


Chantilly Patiño March 26, 2011 at 4:02 am

Yes, I’ve heard this before, although sparingly. I think most know I don’t appreciate comments like that and you’re right that it shouldn’t be acceptable. Women take on way more than our share in most cases and we’re already the type to cut ourselves down for each and every of our “failures”. We are our own worst critics and we definitely don’t need to be degraded for “falling short” at times. We can’t all be perfect cooks all the time or meet the needs of everyone in our lives at every moment. Tracy’s right…we shouldn’t be tearing each other down. Thanks for sharing this post Melanie. ?


modernmami April 6, 2011 at 6:44 pm

You’re right. We are our worst critics…


Me and the Mexican March 26, 2011 at 4:27 am

Oh goodness, i hope i’m not getting ready to go off on a rant…….

I’ve heard this before and i’ve heard other friends talking about it being said to them. 1st i’d like to say as women it is so important for us to support each other! We all have our own strengths in certain areas……. where one may be a very tidy person with a constantly clean house, another might be an awesome cook or whatever! It saddens me how we women sometimes unintentionally break others down and if we do it, why can’t a man??

The one time I was called this (i think we were in the middle of an argument) I let loose! Once I got through listing the millions of things I do daily compared to my hubby’s wake up, go to work, come home relax, then go to bed……… he realized what he had done!

It is 2011 and men need to take on more and give us women a break! That’s how I feel about it!!!! Unless, they don’t mind hearing “es poco hombre”….


modernmami April 6, 2011 at 6:46 pm

I’m so sorry you were called this! And by your own husband. Like I said in the post, I’ve never had it said to me, but can only imagine the outrage you must have felt.


Diana Dudgeon March 26, 2011 at 12:34 pm


I’ve never heard it, to be honest. I guess that’s a good thing. I’ve heard “Poco Hombre” though.


modernmami April 6, 2011 at 6:47 pm

I’ve heard poco hombre too, but not as often. Glad you’ve never heard it!!


Vicky B March 26, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Kudos!! We do need to deconstruct many of the concepts that we were taught to take in as truths, because many don’t really serve us!! That’s what the purpose of forming Latina Goddess Power ( )is partially about.

Also as I wrote on TikiTiki FB page:
” I don’t believe in bashing women so most of that language whether Spanish or English is not something I express, but I understand the sentiment and have heard the expression many times when my mom has shared stories about people!

“The poca mujer” is just the woman that has not found her divine nature and the person who judges her as “poca mujer” has not found her divine nature either! ;)”

Thanks for what you do!


modernmami April 6, 2011 at 6:48 pm

You nailed it. “We do need to deconstruct many of the concepts that we were taught to take in as truths, because many don’t really serve us!!” They’re old fashioned and we need to make our own truths.


MamiCool March 27, 2011 at 4:23 am

I’ve heard that, in the Dominican Republic they will say “una mujer poquita”, I remember my best friend’s mom always had the “mujer poquita complex” because she couldn’t handled everything as she wanted to. I’ve been a working woman since I can remember (started working at 14) and this past year being SAHM has been tough. I was mostly used to the way its done in the DR, most professional women have maids, so when I moved to the US I hadn’t done my laundry or dishes, or house shores in a very long time. So, now being a housewife with a kid I’ve been thinking a lot about that phrase “una mujer poquita”.


modernmami April 6, 2011 at 6:50 pm

It’s definitely a lot to manage and we can only do what we can. We shouldn’t base our success on whether or not we can keep up with the house…that’s not what makes us poca ó grande. 😉


ElsaOdette March 29, 2011 at 12:01 am

growing up, I heard that term a lot, usually geared to women that could not handle the whole mom/wife/daughter/professional/etc personna … as I grew up I realized that, those standards are almost impossible … if you were successful in the workplace, you hardly had time for your kid’s school, etc … I saw my mom being super-woman with our family and her family and in the process, she had no time for herself, felt totally taken advantage of and in turn, was not happy most of the time

I am in the process of doing things differently for myself … great post Mel!


modernmami April 6, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Elsa, it sounds like you’re speaking about my own mom. She too was a super woman in my eyes, but took no time for herself. So glad you’re doing things differently…we have to! We can’t keep repeating the cycle.


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