By Dominic George ‘19
This past week, Tony Mora ‘19 and members of the Latino Student Union presented on the gender stereotypes that exist in Latin American culture. Mr. Jimenez, director of diversity outreach, also helped moderate the talk.
The presenters started off with a simple activity that engaged the audience. Students listed some of the gender expectations present in Latin American culture. In general, many of the stereotypes brought up in the discussion bear similarities to American expectations for men and women.
Following the activity, Erik Luna ‘19 went on describing machismo and marianismo and their larger social effects. The main point that he hammered on machismo was independence, and how men are expected to be providers for their families. Erik explained how women are pressured into serving the needs of others before themselves in his discussion of marianismo. This restriction on a woman’s role keeps them in households and out of the workforce. Essentially, men are the breadwinners, while women are the caretakers. Latinos and Latinas remain stuck in these “boxes” of stereotypes, as described by the speakers.
“Machismo and marianismo are both very extreme forms of masculine and feminine culture… masculinity and femininity are both very healthy. It’s all about identifying and behaving how you want to behave. It’s about this idea of keeping people in this box, so machistas want to keep everyone inside this box… of what they think a man should be, and anyone outside of this box is breaking [the] rules. And the same thing goes for women,” Erik said.
Andruw Martinez ‘21 explained how these LatinX gender roles played out in his life:
“Growing up with both my dad and my grandpa around… I know my grandpa is a very handy guy, [but] he never asks for help and kinda does things himself because he knows he can do it… I know that when my grandpa first came to the United States, he was the main provider of the family because my grandma worked at a beauty salon but she didn’t work that much. My grandpa made most his money for the family through physical labor. And same thing with my dad, my mom works but she doesn’t work a lot. She works only a few hours a day, and as for my dad, he is a delivery truck driver which can be placed in the same group as labor. He starts work at like 4 am and he doesn’t stop until 5 pm. Just seeing him as the main provider of the family just because he works so hard… and just seeing him want to be the strong individual and the head of the family, he wants all of the decisions to run through him… he wants to be the head and in charge, and doesn’t ask for help too much.”
Andruw Martinez ‘21 and Adrian Contreras ‘21 connected these ideas to the bigger picture and explained the influences of machismo and marianismo on media. From the George Lopez show to telenovelas, both examples perpetuate these stereotypes present in Latin American culture. In the George Lopez Show, men are portrayed in a heroic way, while in telenovelas women are viewed as the villains. The speakers then concluded with videos of how the new generation of LatinX individuals has arrived. LatinX is used as an alternative to Latino or Latina and embraces Latin Americans of all genders.
Looking at the present day, Mr. Jimenez believes that all countries are at various developmental stages in terms of closing the gap between men and women. “Gender norms are pretty much prevalent across all cultures [and] all countries, and I think it just depends on each country how, as a society, is trying to break those down. And some countries are a little ahead than others, [like] breaking down paid discrimination,” he said.
Andruw feels that even though people all across the world view gender roles in different lights, there is still hope for the next generation. “I think as a culture we can grow to become more understanding and raise the future generations to be more open and step out of the box [of] marianismo and machismo… and recognize that women can be strong and powerful and independent both emotionally and physically… We can raise our future generations to be proud of their Latino culture, but also change it so we can step out of these boxes that a lot of us now and past generations were brought up in.”