Topics in Cultural Studies
In general, the society has undergone increased dynamism with respect to gender issues. In particular, women in Latin America have assumed new social statuses as compared to the previous traditional roles. The concept of Machismo from the Spanish point of view denotes the presumption that masculinity is far much better and comparatively superior to femininity. Pescatelo (1973) indicates that it also refers to male chauvinism or sexism. In the traditional context, machismo implies that men were more powerful than their female counterparts. Proponents of this concept are not only relatively irresponsible but they are also not mindful of the implications of their activities. This concept can be used to explain the authoritarian form of government that has been characteristic of Latin America since historical times.
Marianismo on the other hand is an all inclusive term that refers to the veneration of feministic values and virtues such as moral strength, kindness, modesty, submission, compliance, docility, hard work, distinctiveness and purity. It considers women to have semi divine attributes and to be more ethical and spiritual than their male counterparts (Pecatelo, 1973). It is also defined by sexual purity and feminine passivity. Cultural studies ascertain that Latino men tend emphasize on these attributes when looking for wives. They believe that such women are home makers and can pass on the desirable characteristics of submission and spirituality to the children, just like the Virgin Mary cared for Jesus in Catholicism. Regardless of the fact that this conception was held in high regard in the past, it is notable that its application was generally class based. In this respect, unlike women in upper social classes who relied on their husbands for provision, those in lower social class were compelled to assume active economic roles in order to cater for their needs effectively.
As mentioned afore, women in Latin America have undergone various changes with respect to gender roles. In his review, Kellogg (2005) ascertains that women in traditional Latin were reserved and assumed domestic roles. They were sexually passive and did not participate actively in economic production. Rather, they concentrated on reproduction, nurturance and domestic production. Currently, emergent research shows that women in Latin America are both politically and economically active. They contribute significantly to the holistic welfare of the community and support their families economically. The reasons for these changes pertain to the economic and political crises that hit the region in the recent past (Kellogg, 2005). Further, education and globalization has also led to increased enlightenment and awareness and therefore changed individual perceptions of these roles.
Despite having undergone numerous changes, women in Latin America have not penetrated the social and economic sectors yet. Compared to the women in western countries, Latino women still lag behind (Collins, 2009). Statistical evidence shows that a higher percentage of American women assume high profile positions in the society. However, just like their Latino counterparts, they have not been able to assume the highest social and political positions. The representation of Latino women in the political sphere and labor sector is still wanting. The low representation in these sectors can be attributed to their reserved nature. Nonetheless, it is worth appreciating that they are assuming a similar trend and in future, they would probably attain the desired status.
Collins, G. (2009). When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to Present. USA: Little Brown and Company.
Kellogg, S. (2005). Weaving the Past: A History of Latin America’s Indigenous Women from Pre-Hispanic Period to Present. Oxford: University Press.
Pescatelo, A. (1973). Female and Male in Latin America. USA: University of Pittsburg Press.