Trying to explain machismo from a Latino point of view seems like a-not-so-very-difficult task. When you type down the term in Google, the very first reference comes from Wikipedia and it explains it as the belief in the supremacy of men over women. Then it goes on with terms such as: androcentrism, male chauvinism and even misogyny. So, in a very simplistic manner, machismo could be socially expressed and perceived in all those actions where men take advantage of their gender in order to leverage their influence within their relationships. But let’s keep one thing clear, as in physics, Newton’s third law can be applied in this cultural dimension when trying to understand the dynamics of the social interactions: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and that is the case for machismo. US Hispanic women have developed some very subtle ways of influencing over their male counterparts. In some cases, that female influence gets stronger and more evident, and it develops into a well-established matriarchate. This matriarchate phenomenon gets also fueled by another social–economical trend: single motherhood. Societies in Latin-America suffer from this social tendency and one of the consequence is the increase of power and influence of women within the family structure.
That increase in influence of women and their social presence gets its manifestation in many pieces of Latin-American literature. Doña Barbara from Venezuelan novelist Romulo Gallegos tells the story of a very controlling woman named Barbara Guaimaran, also known as the men’s devourer, who used every possible mean to gain and keep her power and control over the land she ruled and Santos Luzardo’s heart. “She is a woman who has whipped many men… and she does with them whatever she pleases” (Gallegos, R. 38) This novel might go a little too far when describing the ways in which a woman gains control but one thing is for sure, US Hispanic women have developed their own delicate and persuasive power of influence.
One thing we can extract as marketers from this cultural insight, inside a US Hispanics home, women know how to be the power behind the throne.
Gallegos, Romulo. Dona Barbara. Venezuelan Ministry of Education Editorial. Caracas, Venezuela.1964.