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The Meanings of Macho

The Meanings of Macho: Being a Man in Mexico City, Tenth Anniversary Edition, With a New Preface

Matthew C. Gutmann
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 2
Pages: 362
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  • Book Info
    The Meanings of Macho
    Book Description:

    In this compelling study of machismo in Mexico City, Matthew Gutmann overturns many stereotypes of male culture in Mexico and offers a sensitive and often surprising look at how Mexican men see themselves, parent their children, relate to women, and talk about sex. This tenth anniversary edition features a new preface that updates the stories of the book's key protagonists.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93353-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Preface to the Tenth Anniversary Edition
    (pp. xv-xxviii)
  5. Maps
    (pp. xxix-xxx)
  6. INTRODUCTION: Gender Conventions
    (pp. 1-10)

    Hearing me tap lightly on the corrugated metal with the edge of an old five-hundred-peso coin—this was a month or so before the New Pesos would be issued at the beginning of 1993—Marcos slid the door gate open and invited me to enter. It was Saturday, and at 1 P.M. the giant jackhammers had stopped pounding through the volcanic rock to make a trench in which to lay the sewer pipes. A pleasant respite for all of us. As if to celebrate, Gabriel had asked me that morning to stop by Marcos’s in the afternoon if I found...

  7. ONE Real Mexican Machos Are Born to Die
    (pp. 11-32)

    In this book I examine what it means to be a man,ser hombre,for men and women who live in thecolonia popularof Santo Domingo, Mexico City. The ethnographic focus of this study is on understanding gender identity in relation to the changes in cultural beliefs and practices that have occurred in urban Mexico over the course of several decades of local and global upheaval. By looking at how gender identity is forged and transformed in a working class community formed by land invasion in the Mexican capital in 1971, I explore cultural categories in various incarnations, some...

  8. TWO The Invasion of Santo Domingo
    (pp. 33-49)

    During the night of 3–4 September 1971, a call went up in the southern outskirts of Mexico City: “¡Hay tierra![There’s land!]” Within a twenty-four-hour period, four to five thousand families, some twenty thousand people in all, “parachuted” into the sparsely inhabited area today known as Colonia Santo Domingo. It stands as the largest single land invasion in the history of Latin America.

    Mexico’s president, Luis Echeverría Alvarez, proved the unintentional instigator of the invasion when, on 1 September 1971, he declared his intent to respect the rights of all Mexicans to decent housing, called attention to the need...

  9. THREE Imaginary Fathers, Genuine Fathers
    (pp. 50-88)

    “When you were younger, did you spend much time with your fathers?” I asked a group of young men I was talking with in the street one afternoon.

    “No, I spent more time with my mother,” said Jaime.

    “With both,” said Esteban.

    “Always with my mother,” said Felipe.

    “No, I was always with both of them,” said Pancho. “From when I was little my father took me around a lot. He used to take me along wherever he wanted to go. I always went with him.”

    What do mendoas fathers in Santo Domingo, and what relation does being...

  10. FOUR Motherly Presumptions and Presumptuous Mothers
    (pp. 89-110)

    How much men are or are not changing is a subject of frequent and lively debate among women in Colonia Santo Domingo. So is the role that women play in changing men. As many women residents of thecoloniareason, if sons are going to be better men than their fathers, then mothers have some work to do. As for the men in thecolonia—though this varies from one individual to another, and from one point in an individual’s life to another—most define their masculinity in relation to the women in their lives, whether they be the mothers...

  11. FIVE Men’s Sex
    (pp. 111-145)

    Alfredo Pérez’s wandering father, like many men of the older generations according to Alfredo, was absent for most of his son’s life. Before his father died, however, Alfredo Pérez found him and, as he recounts,

    “I took my wife and children to see him. He asked me to forgive him. I told him, ‘Don’t worry about it, Papa. I’m no one to judge you, only God.’ A week later he died. I went to see him one Saturday, and by the next Saturday they told me he had died. When he died, well, we went to the burial and to...

  12. SIX Diapers and Dishes, Words and Deeds
    (pp. 146-172)

    By 1992, most of the five-year-old boys in the San Bernabé Nursery School in Colonia Santo Domingo cheerfully participated in the game calledel baño de la muñeca(the doll bath). Aurora Muñoz, the director of the nursery school, noted that the boys also now swept up, watered the plants, and collected the trash. When she began working at San Bernabé in 1982, however, many of the boys, if asked to help out with these tasks, would protest, “Onlyviejasdo that!” (an expression similar to “That’s girl’s work!”).¹ Munñoz attributed the changes to the fact that, as the boys...

  13. SEVEN Degendering Alcohol
    (pp. 173-195)

    A friend arrived at our apartment in Santo Domingo on 12 December, the day celebrating the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe in 1531, and one of the most important annual holidays in Mexico. After walking several blocks through thecoloniafrom the Copilco metro stop, she reported, “Todos los hombres están en la calle tomados[All the men are in the streets drunk].”

    On a basic level, this was the offhand pronouncement of someone who had just had to weave her way over and around several congregations of male merrymakers still toasting Juan Diego’s fortuitous vision. My friend had...

  14. EIGHT Fear and Loathing in Male Violence
    (pp. 196-220)

    Because of flooding throughout thecolonia,there was no electricity when I left the apartment one evening in early July. As I stumbled through the rain-filled potholes in the darkened street, I listened to a pocket radio carrying news that the U.S. president, Bill Clinton, had just ordered another bombardment of Iraq. It reminded me of the smoggy afternoon just before Clinton was sworn into office in January when I walked up to thetiendaand was greeted by a noose hanging from one of the construction cranes being used to dig up volcanic rock so that sewage lines could...

  15. NINE Machismo
    (pp. 221-242)

    “Are any of you married?” I asked themuchachos.

    “No,todos solteritos[all young and single],” said Felipe.

    “That bozo’s got two little squirts. He’s themacho mexicano,” said Rodrigo, pointing to Celso, the father of two children who lived with their mother in another city.

    “What does that mean?” I inquired.

    “Macho? That you’ve got kids all over,” said Esteban.

    “That your ideology is very closed,” said Pancho. “The ideology of themacho mexicanois very closed. He doesn’t think about what might happen later, but mainly focuses on the present, on satisfaction, on pleasure, on desire. But now...

  16. TEN Creative Contradictions
    (pp. 243-264)

    There is ambiguity, confusion, and contradiction in male identities throughout the putative heartland of machismo. In the case of Colonia Santo Domingo, the past two decades have witnessed a process in which numerous women and men have become aware of gender identities as impermanent and changeable, and self-reflexive about them. For some this awareness in itself has been tantamount to disputing the ideological foundations of conventional gender identities, or at least beginning such a process. Following from this, to the extent that residents of Santo Domingo have become conscious of femininity and masculinity as uncertain qualities, gender identities have consequently...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 265-290)
  18. Glossary
    (pp. 291-294)
  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 295-324)
  20. Index
    (pp. 325-332)