Latino Studies Machismo
by
Juan David Coronado
  • LAST REVIEWED: 28 April 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 October 2015
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199913701-0106

Introduction

Machismo, the Spanish term for masculinity, has become a pervasive term in the conversation of gender studies in the United States. Whether in scholarly discussions or in everyday conversation, machismo has become a widely used term. Given the vast Latino influence in the United States, the term has caught on with scholars and the general population. The origin of machismo can be traced to pre-Columbian times and has been influenced by both indigenous and European forms of masculinity. As early as the 1930s, scholars attempted to articulate the true meaning of machismo, which has often been misconstrued. In Spanish the word macho simply translates as “male.” In recent years, the term has been used in the United States to describe types that vary from the sexist and sexually driven Latino to the relentless boxer who ignores pain. With the change in times and the change of setting induced by the expansion of the Latino community throughout the United States, machismo has evolved. Professor of literature Omar Castañeda in his article “Guatemalan Macho Oratory” (Castañeda 1996, cited under Latin America and Spain) has put it best: “Machismo is complex and multifaceted and too often, in Anglo-American interpretations, reduced to self-aggrandizing male bravado that flirts with physical harm to be sexual, like some rutting for the rights to pass on genes” (pp. 37 and 58). Along with its association with sexual flare, machismo has come to represent male dominance. However, in many communities the term machismo, as Vicente T. Mendoza argues in Mendoza 1962 (cited under Mexico), has come to embrace responsible male traits such as presence of mind, stoicism, and bravery.

General Overviews, Edited Collections, Dissertations, and Theses

Scholars have taken great strides to observe the impact made by machismo on gender roles in various cultures, communities, and countries. These studies have moved in many directions outside of the traditional setting in Mexico. Gutmann 2003 includes works on numerous South American countries while also including works on Mexico and the United States. Other works, such as Cleaver 2002, have focused beyond the Latino experience in considering masculinity in Hindu, Ugandan, and Vietnamese cultures. In the field of American history, gender studies has not only become popular in recent years, but also necessary as the field has expanded and grown more inclusive. Foster 2011 sheds light on diverse figures who have contributed to the growth and development of colonial North America. Young scholars have looked at gender in various thesis and dissertation topics that have led to further insights in the field of history. Coronado 2013 examines machismo as a motivating factor that convinced Mexican American young men to serve in Vietnam and to take high risks there, which enabled them to survive.

  • Amuchastegui, Ana, and Szasz Ivonne. Sucede que me canso de ser hombre: Relatos y reflexiones sobre hombres y masculinidades en México. Mexico City: Colegio de México, 2007.

    E-mail Citation »

    An overview of social and cultural aspects of machismo and what it means to be male in Mexico. Key issues such as sexuality, violence, immigration, homosexuality, and family structure are explored in numerous articles.

  • Cleaver, Frances. Masculinities Matter! Men, Gender, and Development. New York: Zed Books, 2002.

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    Is a collection of essays that focus on men and masculinities in different cultures and communities. Cleaver includes articles that range from masculinity in northern Uganda to Hindu patriarchy to the Cuban machista.

  • Coronado, Juan David. “‘I’m Not Gonna Die in This Damn Place’: Manliness, Identity, and Survival of the Mexican American Vietnam Prisoners of War.” PhD diss., Texas Tech University, 2013.

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    Focuses on the role of machismo as a motivating factor that convinced Mexican Americans to join the military during the Vietnam War and also propelled their survival during captivity as prisoners of war.

  • Foster, Thomas. Manliness in Early America. New York: New York University Press, 2011.

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    A collection of articles focusing on masculinity in 18th-century colonial North America. Foster explores masculinity ranging from native men to African American slaves to the virtuous John Adams.

  • French, William E., and Katherine Elaine Bliss. Gender, Sexuality, and Power in Latin America since Independence. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007.

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    In a series of articles, the authors examine nuances of gender and the ever-evolving gender roles throughout Latin America.

  • Gutmann, Matthew C. Changing Men and Masculinities in Latin America. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003.

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    A collection of essays that focus on machismo in countries that include Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Mexico, Spain, and the United States.

  • Ruiz, Juliette. “Clarification of the Concepts of Machismo and Hembrismo: Significance for Social Work Practice with Chicanos.” PhD diss., Denver University, 1975.

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    Provides a further understanding of the concepts of machismo and hembrismo (feminine roles) while determining how these roles are perceived by Chicano social workers.

  • Swartzbaugh, Richard Grey. “Machismo: A Value System of Mexican Peasant Class.” PhD diss., Ohio State University, 1969.

    E-mail Citation »

    Looks at the positive view of machismo held by Mexican peasants in rural Guanajuato, Mexico, while Mexican wealthy elite frown upon the term.

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