Description (From Transcript): “The literal translation in English is “Better alone than in bad company”. This is something that is commonly said in the Mexican culture but I don’t know if it’s said in other Latin American cultures as well. But essentially it’s talking about how it is better to be alone than in a toxic relationship. And I think most of the time, it’s referring to like- uh- a relationship with like a significant other, but also, I think it can be referring to a friendship or really just anyone’s company. It’s better to be by yourself than with that negative company. And I think when it’s most commonly used is when someone asks you about like your significant other or something. People kind of use it as a joke, honestly, but I think it has a deeper meaning…”
Context: The informant (LV) is a first generation Mexican American woman residing in Denver, Colorado. This proverb is something that she grew up hearing a lot in school with her friends. She spent a lot of time with other Mexican or Latina girls. She also heard it in media such as telenovelas (a genre of Spanish soap operas). She heard it from younger people mostly or single people. It was used as a way to defend yourself– you would rather be single than with someone not deserving of you.
She also explains that there is a lot of toxic masculinity in this culture specifically, and it’s not something that’s talked about with older generations. But growing up in the US, it’s something her generation is a little more aware from. This little saying highlights that. She likes it because it uses the “a” at the end for women or people who identify as women but it could also be “Mejor solo que mal acompañado” but women are mostly the ones she hears saying this. She thinks it uplifts women to not settle, that it’s okay to be alone than be with someone who doesn’t deserve you. She says that in this culture, there is a lot of pressure to settle down and be with someone. This [saying] fights that idea.
My Interpretation: I think the informant did a wonderful job of explaining this saying in detail as well as the cultural implications it carries. The emphasis of the subject being feminine is very telling of the rigid gender expectation for women to be in relationships, marry, have children, take care of their parents and elders, all while enduring toxic or, in some cases, abusive behavior from these relationships. Because the saying is particularly common among younger women, it leads me to believe that it is a fairly newer saying, adopted by younger people as a way to challenge generational patriarchal beliefs that worsen and endanger the lives of people, especially women, in this culture. Consequently, I would also expect for this saying to become ever more widely used as internet cultures begin to tackle injustices that parents and grandparents suffered but could not challenge due to a lack of tools and language to do so.