This paper aims to elucidate the dyadic concepts of machismo and marianismo in Latinx culture, especially Chicano culture. Though most people have an understanding of what it is for someone, especially a man, to “be macho,” the concept of machismo is elusive. Marianismo is lesser known, but to the extent that it is understood, it’s understood as reinforcing the oppressive properties traditionally associated with machismo. Following Audre Lorde’s analysis of the erotic, my analysis of machismo and marianismo will reveal that while these concepts include misogynist subcultures, they also offer empowering modes of being in a racist society that any Latinx can embody regardless of their gender identity. Taken in this latter way, machismo and marianismo can actually be used to dismantle some of the oppressive structures that have held toxic versions of these concepts in place. For example, when Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is challenging her male colleagues in Congress, she is performing machismo in an empowering, patriarchy-disrupting way.
Typically, the machismo-marianismo dyad tracks closely to the masculine-feminine binary, but I reject this notion. The dyadic relationship between machismo and marianismo is characterized by two types of empowering energy. On the one hand, machismo is proud, aggressive, resistant, and status-focused. On the other hand, marianismo is humble, supportive, submissive, and family-focused. Machismo is associated with non-domestic spheres primarily, e.g., business, commerce, and professional achievement. Marianismo is associated with nurturing, soothing, spirituality, and domestic diplomacy. In a patriarchal society, men tend to perform machismo and women tend to perform marianismo, but this dyad is fluid with respect to gender. Women can perform machismo, men can perform marianismo, and individuals across the spectrum can perform both. In this ameliorative project, the machismo-marianismo dyad will be a resource for marginalized groups to tap into in order to overcome systemic oppression. My goal is for machismo and marianismo to be used when needed by all Latinx gender identities to uplift them and give them strength to overcome systemic injustice while also addressing the historical impacts that machismo has had on Latinx feminist movements.
Garcia, Emma, "Blending the Gender Binary: The Machismo-Marianismo Dyad as a Coping Mechanism" (2021). Honors Projects. 23.