The Machismo and Marianismo Culture Perpetuates Toxic Masculinity and Sexist Gender Roles in Latinx Households

Kimberly Perez

Machismo is a culture now ingrained in certain Latinx households, forcing young boys to be “macho”; essentially strong both physically and mentally. Machistas generally are expected to be dominant and feel entitled to respect and obedience. Its counterpart, Marianismo, the woman is the caretaker of the house and children, a perfect wife for her macho man. The evidence is in the way we’re raised, and in the way past generations bolster this culture for posterity.

If you are a Latina girl in this culture, unless you’ve committed yourself to Christ, have done your first communion, and retained chastity, you’re considered promiscuous. After all, why do you need to go out and socialize, which you spent the whole day cleaning just so you could ask, when all you need in the future is a husband that provides a house to cook, clean, and raise a family in?

But God forbid you to birth all girls and no boys! Boys are needed for the more laborious things of the house, like helping out in the backyard and fixing a car, oh, and learning how to be a machista. This might be okay if it was the 50’s, but it isn’t. Yet, boys growing up in Latinx households are still being reinforced with the machismo culture. They’re called “girls” when they cry and are told to “toughen up”, they’re expected to be outdoors, working, and are mostly favored by their mothers.

By teaching young boys to suppress emotions and teaching that it’s the more masculine, “right” thing to do, it also brings up the topic of toxic masculinity (Salam). This isn’t just exclusive to the Latinos, but it remains to be heavily reinforced in it.

While boys are able to be stoic and not so emotional, by cutting off anything not hypermasculine and suppressing what emotion they do have, is when growing up may start getting difficult. Suddenly you can’t ask for help anymore, you’re a man you should know. And now, you’re doing less cleaning, leaving it to your sister, and being forced out to find a job. In the future it leads to a certain ego that you have to take care of everything, that you’re the ‘house owner’ and all you need to do is work while your wife takes care of the rest (Arroyo-Martinez).

Men and women should put in the same amount of effort in a relationship to work, that’s a given, so why shouldn’t it be the same when it comes to housework and jobs? Anybody can clean and cook for their partner if they choose to, that’s not the issue, the issue is being told you’re not a woman because you don’t know how to cook. Being told you’re not a man because you need help and because you cry.

We’re all human, we’re capable of doing anything a man or woman can do, and we can shed emotions. While most Latinos will not, possibly will never, see anything wrong with this, it’s left to posterity and us to fully strive for independence and break tradition.