A history of manhood “must…recount two histories: the history of the changing “ideal” version of masculinity and the parallel and competing versions that coexist with it.” - Michael S. Kimmel, Manhood in America: A Cultural History
Meet Rafael L. Ramirez• 1935-2009?• Professor of Anthropology (Ret.)• Senior Researcher at the HIV/AIDS Research and Education Center of the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras
How Would You Define Machismo?• “Term popularized in the • Ramirez’s Definition: social literature of the • Associated with beings fifties and sixties and was categorized as “aggressive, initially presented as a oppressive, narcissistic, insecure, Latin American loudmouthed, womanizers, phenomenon in its massive drinkers, persons who crudest form in the have uncontrollable sexual peasant and working prowess, and …(don’t-stop-‘til- classes” (Ramirez 7) you-drop partiers)” (Ramirez 7)• How would you define • “Some say a set of attitudes and machismo based on our others a configuration of traits, past readings, videos, and even a syndrome at times” discussions in class? (Ramirez 8) Machismo
Initial Approaches• Bermudez “defines machismo as a typical case of unconscious compensation against feminist tendencies hidden in the Mexican man” (Ramirez 8)• Judith Butler’s (1990) notion of performed gender roles: – “It is only by exaggerating the difference between…male and female…that a semblance of order is created” (Butler 167)
Discussion• Why would it be such a bad thing to exhibit feminine traits?• Why do we see this “straying/distancing from femininity” when dealing with Latin Culture and machismo?
Initial Approaches (Cont.)• Stycos and successors “*perceive+ machismo as an intrapsychic phenomenon dissociate from its sociohistoric roots” (Ramirez 8) – 39.2% of asked men associated virility and sexuality with being a complete man. (Ramirez 9)• In later research, Puerto Rican men were found to be associated more with being “authoritarian, dominant, and distant” (Hill, Stycos, and Back 375)
Discussion• Is there a psychological, or even biological, basis for the development of masculinity, and machismo in particular? – Nature vs. Nurture, Freudian Theories, Genetics
Emphasis on Sexuality and Virility• Return to emphasis on virility and sexuality, highlighted within focuses on the individual and “destructive aspects” of machismo in the context of sociocultural perspectives focusing more on “social, economic, and historical factors” (Ramirez 11f.)• “*L]iterature on machismo is essentially descriptive, uncritical, and repetitive” (Ramirez 11)
Later Studies• Mejia Ricart’s 20 aspects of Machismo• Sexual: sexual potency, Don Juanismo, Parranderismo, Masculine exhibitionism, Coprolalia, Cult of Virginity, sexual repression of women, taboo on sexual subjects, fertility, and procreation of male offspring• Individual Vs. Society: stereotyping male superiority, emotional rigidity, generational distancing, independence, aggressiveness, power hunger, physical strength, personal courage, honor, and extravagance
Later Studies (Cont.)• Isabel Pico asserts “‘machismo’ to be the set of attitudes, beliefs, and behavior that results from belief in the superiority of one sex over the other” (v)
Discussion• Is machismo inherently a sexist idea/performance or connected to sexism?• Are there any reversals of stereotypical/hegemonic gender roles in Down These Mean Streets? Would and how does this dynamic work? Are their examples of complicated language in the book that are connected to sex/gender? – Female masculinities or submissive men
Ramirez’s Counter Argument• Pico “does not elaborate on the assertion that machismo is a cultural phenomenon…does not discuss the economic conditions that …give rise to machismo…*and+ asserts that machismo is equivalent to sexism” (19)• Machismo is a gender classification/ideal whereas sexism is an ideology linked to the biological fact of sex.
Later Studies (Cont.)• Victor De la Cancela attempts to “discover the interactive, interconnected, and contradictory aspects of machismo given a specific socio-historical context” (De la Cancela 77)• De la Cancela recorded 4 trends: – Positive and negative aspects of being a man – Paternity and familial figure – Contrast with Anglo values – Contrast between Puerto Rican understanding of machismo and the conventional social understanding (Ramirez 21f.)
Discussion• Which of these four traits are demonstrated amongst the male characters of Down These Mean Streets, particularly Piri and his father?• Which of these approaches and studies to understanding masculinities do you agree with most or see as the most useful?
Machismo and Masculinities• Machismo is a reductive and insufficient blanket term for Latino masculinity.• Machismo is both too descriptive as well as not complex enough to incorporate all the complexities of various masculinities.
Complex Masculinity• “To understand that which we call ‘masculinity,’ we should approach this study from the perspective of the human species’ cultural diversity” (Ramirez 27)• Many complexities of studying masculinities arise from the different manner in which cultures ascribe gendered meanings and understandings to relative norms
Concluding Discussion• How does this complexity of understanding relative masculinities apply to machismo? – In Down These Mean Streets is there a misunderstanding by non-Latinos of machismo?• Do we see examples of this in our own or other cultures?
Works Cited• Butler, Judith. Gender Troubles: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York:Routledge, 1990. Web. 19Febuary 2013.• Kimmel, Michael S. Manhood in America: A Cultural History. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford UP. 2012. Print.• Ramirez, Rafael L. What It Means to Be a Man: Reflections on Puerto Rican Masculinity. Trans. Rosa E. Casper. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 1999. Print