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Machismo in Latin America

Autor:   •  February 26, 2012  •  Case Study  •  1,672 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,017 Views

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In the United States the term machismo is looked down upon, bringing thoughts of male chauvinism, inequality and almost out-dated sentiments, not running parallel to the politically correct society we aspire to be. However, machismo in Latin America is an important social status for many and an assumed role for men to undertake. In the United States and Latin America alike, machismo is commonly defined by sexuality, masculinity and ones feelings towards homosexuality. In the ethnography Life is Hard by Roger Lancaster machismo is thought to be directly linked solely to ones actions, even above gender. On the other hand, Cholas and Pishtacos, by Mary Weismantel, focuses on race and gender in the Andes and indirectly concludes that these two qualities have a greater effect on identifying machismo. Therefore, machismo is a dominating quality prevalent in all of Latin America, though its defining qualities differ among countries.

Roger Lancaster succeeds in analyzing a wide spectrum of the Nicaraguan culture. As the title indicates he specifically focuses on machismo, danger and the intimacy of power in his ethnography of the Central American country. He compares the old ways of Nicaragua's society to the changes to society brought on after the Sandinista Revolution. The revolution was one initiated by the Nicaraguans who longed for reform from their long run as a country accountable for mistreatment, colonialism, poverty and underdevelopment. Within Lancaster's accounts of primarily social relations he puts much emphasis on the machismo way of life customary among Nicaraguans of all genders, races and ages. Based on his explanations, the sentiments of relevance and the role of machismo in Nicaragua varies from person to person, though one can collectively conclude that it is still a very substantial ingredient in Nicaraguan society.

In the ethnography Cholas and Pishtacos, author Mary Weismantel explains the relationship between Cholas (mestiza women who work in produce markets being perceived as both exotic and dangerous) and Pishtacos (creatures compared to the Boogie Man who stalk the countryside in search for Indian victims in order to rape them and take their body fat). Though different at the surface, pistacos and cholas both are almost put in a position of power, and therefore thoughts of masculinity are provoked upon them, by the Andean Indians because of their "whiteness". However, simultaneously these characters are being degraded by the elitist whites not connected to an indiginous race.


The tones of sexuality in terms of masculinity among the two Hispanic cultures are comparable. In Nicaragua sexuality appears to be the most crucial defining factor in machismo. It is the "job" of the man to be the dominant one in all matters of sexuality. Essential qualities of this stereotype include aggressiveness, dominance


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