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Metaphors of Masculinity

Metaphors of Masculinity: Sex and Status in Andalusian Folklore

Stanley Brandes
Copyright Date: 1980
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Metaphors of Masculinity
    Book Description:

    In the Andalusian communities throughout the olive-growing region of southeastern Spain men show themselves to be primarily concerned with two problems of identity: their place in the social hierarchy, and the maintenance of their masculinity in the context of their culture.

    In this study of projective behavior as found in the folklore of an Andalusian town, Stanley Brandes is careful to support psychological interpretations with ethnographic evidence. His emphasis on male folklore provides a timely complement to current research on women.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-9250-3
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 The Study of Male Folklore in Andalusia
    (pp. 3-16)

    Stereotypes, though often misleading, may sometimes embody some profound truths. Throughout Spain, Andalusia—comprising the nation’s eight southernmost provinces—is famous both for what it is and for what it is not. It is said to be backward, and yet it contains some of the richest agricultural land in the Iberian peninsula and has one of the most flourishing tourist industries in Europe. It is said to be poor and misery-ridden, and yet it boasts enormous concentrations of wealth and a general populace that enjoys all the conveniences of modern life, including television, washing machines, refrigerators, and automobiles. Its inhabitants...

  5. 2 Giants and Big-Heads
    (pp. 17-36)

    Every year on 16 September in Monteros there occurs a brief parade of costumed figures known as Giants (Gigantes) and Big-Heads (Cabezudos). When I first witnessed the event I had resided less than a month in the community and thus was ill-prepared to evaluate its full symbolic significance. But I never doubted that it had a highly charged significance. Anybody would have been struck, as I was, by the sharp contrast between the overbearingly tall, stiff, austere, royally clothed Giants and the short, foolish, garishly garbed Big-Heads. At once, the town seemed transformed into a Renaissance court with its monarchs...

  6. 3 Titles, Names, and Pronouns
    (pp. 37-52)

    In Monteros, as I have said, a man’s identity depends in large measure upon his estimation of his social rank, including his overall notion both of the social hierarchy in which he finds himself and of his place within the scheme. Unlike the small farming villages of northern Spain, described, for example, by Aceves (1971), Brandes (1975a), Freeman (1970), and Kenny (1966), the agro-towns of the south are socially heterogeneous and are divided into ranked groups, based upon a host of criteria. It is the issue of social category, particularly as reflected in speech, that I wish to analyze in...

  7. 4 Gypsy Jokes and the Andalusian Self-Image
    (pp. 53-74)

    No discussion of stratification in Andalusia would be complete without taking account of Gypsies, who loom large in the Spanish mind generally but even larger in the mentality of southern Spain, where most of the Spanish Gypsies have lived and traveled. To Europeans, Gypsies have always seemed mysterious in nature and origin. We know of course that their probable origin lies in north India, whence they spread westward, first into Asia Minor and North Africa during the late Middle Ages and then into Europe throughout the early modern period. There is evidence that they reached Switzerland by 1414, Rome by...

  8. 5 Masculine Metaphors in Folk Speech
    (pp. 75-96)

    Unquestionably in Monteros, as throughout Andalusia, men can maintain a positive image of themselves only to the extent that they preserve their families’ honor and reputation. Pitt-Rivers has offered a neat formulation of the manner in which the honor of the family and that of the individual are closely intertwined: “There is a near-paradox in the fact that while honour is a collective attribute shared by the nuclear family it is also personal and dependent upon the will of the individual; individual honour derives from individual conduct but produces consequences for others who share collective honour with this individual” (Pitt-Rivers...

  9. 6 Jokes and the Male Identity
    (pp. 97-114)

    In the introduction to Gershon Legman’s massive two-volume compendium of sexual humor (Legman 1971, 1975), the author states that a main function of joke-telling is “to absorb and control, even to slough off, by means of jocular presentation and laughter, the great anxiety that both teller and listener feel in connection with certain culturally determined themes” (Legman 1971, pp. 13-14). Through the growing literature on jokes and humor we have come to recognize that what is funny in one cultural context may prove dull or trite, or even repugnant, in another, Humor, in fact, may be said to be the...

  10. 7 Pranks and Riddles
    (pp. 115-136)

    In Monteros, people operate under the assumption—so thoroughly discussed in Spanish literature and social commentary—that appearances are deceiving and that one must therefore always be vigilant against unexpected attack. Defeat, everyone knows, can be born of the most seemingly innocent circumstances. This is why people say, “May God free us from calm waters; from the rest, I’ll free myself” (De las aguas mansas nos libre Dios; que de las otras me libraré yo). Calm water in this proverb represents individuals who appear to be good and well-meaning, who never fight, argue, or contradict others. It is, in fact,...

  11. 8 Space and Speech at the Olive Harvest
    (pp. 137-158)

    In Monteros, as throughout the entire province in which the town is situated, the economy depends almost exclusively on the collection and processing of olives. We have only to consider that of the approximately seven hundred thousand hectares of cultivated land in the province, five hundred thousand are devoted to olive groves (Institute Nacional de Estadística 1972, p. 39). Among these groves, as Gerald Brenan has pointed out, “are to be found the largest and richest olive estates in the world” (Brenan 1964, p. 155). Nowhere else is there such an intense concentration and reliance on this crop. Even such...

  12. 9 Skits and Society
    (pp. 159-176)

    We have already observed through the analysis of Giants and Big-Heads as well as of speech that Monteros men are concerned about domination and control by individuals or events over which they have no influence. If we could isolate one fear common to all segments of Monteros society, it would be the fear of victimization, of being placed at the mercy and whim of others and thereby losing personal autonomy. There are, of course, any number of potential sources for the violation of personal autonomy, among them economic exploitation and political domination. The working people of Monteros are acutely aware...

  13. 10 Religious Expressions of Masculinity
    (pp. 177-204)

    Until the early 1970s, when Protestants were given the right to proselytize, Spain was a wholly Catholic country. Even today, when, of all the diverse sects, the Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to be making some slight inroads, it would be false to characterize this nation as anything but Roman Catholic. Catholic churches, cathedrals, monasteries, and sanctuaries dominate the landscape. Catholic religious instruction is, and for most of the past halfcentury has been, an integral part of the public school curriculum. People mark the stages of their life with reference to Catholic ritual. No matter how irreligious or irreverent a Spanish person...

  14. 11 The Folklore of Dominance and Control
    (pp. 205-214)

    Throughout this volume I have examined a wide variety of folkloristic genres in order to show their relationship to the critically important themes of social status and sexual identity. It is obvious that masculine folklore in Monteros reveals a pervasive concern with social and sexual differentiation. In conclusion, however, I wish to make explicit that these two themes really address the same basic issue: dominance versus submission. Whether I am speaking of ritual or jokes, of nicknames or riddles, of slang or skits, the recurrent pattern is a preoccupation with power, domination, and control. Through their folklore, the men of...

  15. References Cited
    (pp. 215-228)
  16. Index
    (pp. 229-236)