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Men and Masculinity #3: Meanings of Macho: Being a Man in Mexico Cityby Matthew Gutmann
Synopses & Reviews
"At long last—a carefully researched and wonderfully written ethnography that explodes the ubiquitous stereotype of Mexican men as invariably "macho" while tackling head on the inequality between men and women. Challenging the notion that men, masculinity, and male gender identity are simple and homogenous categories, Gutmann skillfully weaves together stories of working class men in a Mexico City colonia, including an outstanding in-depth consideration of 'men's domesticity.' This book does for the study of men what two generations of feminist anthropologists have done for the study of women."—Lynn Stephen, author of Zapotec Women
"This is a significant addition to the literature on masculinity. In this well-constructed ethnography Gutmann's originality—to say nothing of his intellectual honesty—shines through. His focus is on what men do and on what they say they do, and on the role of women in affecting both. He does not shy away from ambiguity but embraces it as a key theme in the attempt to understand how male identities are negotiated. A deft and subtle piece of scholarship."—Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University
"The Meanings of Macho is a highly readable book, full of interesting vignettes recounting masculine behavior and conversations among men in a Mexico City colonia. Matthew Gutmann carefully critiques the stereotype of the 'macho' male and shows us how Mexican men are changing—from holding babies, to helping with the housework, to accepting female leaders in the colonia. There is still public drunkenness, male violence, and wife abuse, but there is also a center for family violence, support groups for spouse abusers, and much discussion about the 'culture of violence and machismo.' Guttman presents a nuanced portrait of the variety of men he studied and the social and economic context of change."—Louise Lamphere, University of New Mexico
"Recent scholarship has taught us much about what it means to be a woman world-wide. But what does it really mean to be a man? In this extremely important and pathbreaking work Matthew Gutmann deftly, carefully, beautifully answers this question, exploring the multiple meanings that manhood holds in the lives and thoughts of working class men and women in Mexico City."—Ramón Gutièrrez, author of When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away
In this compelling and readable study of machismo in one of Latin America's most populous cities, Matthew Gutmann overturns many stereotypes of male culture in Mexico. In their place he offers a sensitive, wide-ranging, often surprising look at how Mexican men see themselves, parent their children, relate to women, socialize among themselves, and talk about sex in their daily lives. Gutmann finds that men and women are responding to sweeping social forces in Mexico, just as they are in the United States, with women often initiating changes in male attitudes and behaviors.
The Meanings of Macho takes the reader into Santo Domingo, Mexico City, the working-class neighborhood where Gutmann and his family lived. Exploring women's conceptions about men as well as men's ideas about themselves, Gutmann uncovers intriguing, complicated sexual politics among friends and informants. He discovers that, against stereotype, many men's nuanced, complicated sense of sexual identity encompasses considerable child care responsibilities and recognition of a newfound female autonomy. He also considers the kinds of homosocial space men are afforded in their culture, how violence against women plays itself out in this community, and the role of alcohol in male socializing.
Praise for the first edition:
"Gutmann has done the hithertofore seemingly unthinkable. [A] wholly other vision of Mexican gender relations emerges."--José Limón, American Anthropologist
"This book does for the study of men what two generations of feminist anthropologists have done for the study of women."--Lynn Stephen, author of Zapotec Women
Includes bibliographical references (p. 295-322) and index.
About the Author
Matthew Gutmann is Professor of Anthropology, Ethnic Studies, and Latin American Studies at Brown University and is the author of The Meanings of Macho: Being a Man in Mexico City (Tenth Anniversary edition, 2006) and The Romance of Democracy: Compliant Defiance in Contemporary Mexico (2002), both from UC Press.
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