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Marianismo: Origin and Meaning

The following discussion of the term "Marianismo" took place on WMST-L
in January 2000.  Of related interest may be the file entitled
The Concept of Machismo.  For additional WMST-L files available on the Web,
see the WMST-L File Collection.
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 10:44:07 -0600
From: Kathy King <katking @ BADLANDS.NODAK.EDU>
Subject: Marianismo
Does anyone know where this term originated?  We read an essay from a
Columbian woman's perspective, and some wondered if this was a term
specific to Columbian culture or if widely used in other Latina/o

Thank you,

Kathy Coudle King
U. of North Dakota
Grand Forks, ND
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 09:55:31 -0800
From: blend <blend @ NM.NET>
Subject: Re: Marianismo
You might want to look at Ana Castillo, The Goddess of the Americas, and
Jeannette Rodriquez, Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Good luck,
Benay blend
blend  @  nm.net
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 12:57:34 -0500
From: Ellen Gil-Gomez <gil-gomez.1 @ OSU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Marianismo
Just let me respond to two things here.  The spelling is Colombian not
Columbian [that pesky Columbus :-) does have a way of irritating Latino/as]
and yes the term is used in many Latin American and U.S. Latino/a cultures.

Dr. Ellen M. Gil-Gomez
Senior Lecturer of Latino/a Studies

Division of Comparative Studies
308 Dulles Hall
230 West 17th Avenue
The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH 43210-1311
gil-gomez.1  @  osu.edu
ph# 614 292 2761
fax# 614 292 6707
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 13:09:22 EST
From: "Victoria D. Heckler" <Vdheckler @ AOL.COM>
Subject: Re: Marianismo
"Marianismo" comes from the Virgin Mary (or "Maria").  It is the supposed
ideal of true femininity that women are supposed to live up to--i.e. being
modest, virtuous, and sexually abstinent until marriage--and then being
faithful and subordinate to their husbands.  In essence, "marianismo" is the
female counterpart to "machismo," and as such, probably originated during the
time of the Spanish conquest.

Victoria D. Heckler
vdheckler  @  aol.com
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 12:07:52 -0600
From: Deborah Hume <DHume @ WC.STEPHENS.EDU>
Subject: Re: Marianismo
In their book "The Maria Paradox: How Latinas can merge old world traditions
with new world self-esteem" (1996, G. P. Putnam), Rosa Maria Gil & Carmen
Inoa Vazquez suggest that the concept of marianismo was first discussed in
the academic literature in a 'ground-breaking essay written by Evelyn P.
Stevens in 1973' and that it has also been further discussed by academicians
such as Sally E. Romero, Julia M. Ramos-mcKay, Lillian Comas-Diaz, & Luis
Romero. In their book, Gil & Vazquez use it as applicable across a variety
of Latino/a cultures.

Deb Hume
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 13:58:40 -0500
From: "William W. Pendleton" <socwwp @ EMORY.EDU>
Subject: Re: Marianismo
This concept has especial interest to me because I lived in Colombia in
time long past. I observed the patterns of male and female relations in a
setting of what I called the 'successful working class' where we
interviewed  husband and wives separately and together about several
matters including birth control.  We found, in a small sample of workers,
that men were receptive to the idea of birth control provided it was not
condoms more than were the women and that women, in the presence of their
husbands, were more likely to be favorable towards birth control. We
concluded that the woman center appraoch of the family planning community
had failed to appreciate the male-female cultural dimensions and that by
considering the men and the womens view of men, more effective programs
might be developed.  Within this process there was clearly a dimension of
"good and bad" women that made condoms unacceptable.  What struck me as
interesting was the power given to "good" women. In that area. a good wife
had absolute authority in that the men said "if she agrees". That is only
one issue in one circumstance, but I would argue that much can be learned
from it.

Wm W. Pendleton
Professor Emeritus
Department of Sociology
Emory University
Atlanta, Ga. 30322
socwwp  @  emory.edu
Fight Illiteracy!
Avoid: "Between you and I"
       "Congress should work with the Vice-President and I."
       "He always wanted to use Johnson and I in tandem."
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 19:16:13 -0500
From: Sandra Basgall <sbasgall @ TOGETHER.NET>
Subject: Re: Marianismo
Marianismo was first used by Elsa Chaney in an article by that name.  It was in
direct response to the male word machismo and was meant to explain this
interesting female phenomenon in Latin America in which women were either saints
or whores.

Sandra Basgall
School for International Training
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 22:09:43 -0500
From: Suzanne Baker <sbaker1 @ USWEST.NET>
Subject: Re: Marianismo
There have been some responses in the literature to the concept of
marianismo that point out that its model of / model for women's behavior is
very class-based. In other words, the rather sheltered existence, with men
doing the hard work, etc. in exchange for the pedestal that women are
supposedly on, is a life that rarely exists, particularly for the majority
of peasant, poor and working class women that make up the population of
Latin America. As far as I can remember Stevens' article, most of her data
came from middle class Mexican women.

To me, this argument has always smacked of the 'separate but equal spheres'
approach - saying that although women are denied access to much, etc. they
gain so much by being put on a pedestal, unapproachable, virginal, taken
care of.

My two cents -

Suzanne Baker
Asst. Prof. of Anthropology
Creighton University
"When we want to understand something, we cannot just stand outside and
observe it. We have to enter deeply into it and be one with it . . . "
                - Thich Nhat Hanh
Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2000 22:19:00 -0700
From: Marnie Carroll <marnie.enos @ SOBEK.COLORADO.EDU>
Subject: Re: Marianismo
"In Hispanic folk culture, marianismo is a characterization of the ideal
personality of women.  Across the literature on the subject, this ideal
woman is emotional, kind, instinctive, whimsical, docile, compliant,
vulnerable, and unassertive.  She has a higher status in the community if
she has children.  The roots of marianismo reside in Roman Catholic
theology.  In Roman Catholicism, the Virgin Mary was both a virgin and a
madonna.  She was a virgin and angel, thus a subject of worship.  Because of
this, she was, in the religious sense, spiritually better than men
(Comas-Diaz, 1988).  Therefore, marianismo alludes to the expectation that
the ideal wife and mother is required to be immaculate and spiritually
superior to men.  This translates into a kind of sex-based role behavior in
which the ideal woman is expected to suffer without complaining, and to
place the needs of her husband and children before her own wishes and
              ---p. 200,  "Correctional Case Management" by Richard Enos and
Stephen Southern, 1996, Anderson Publishing Co.
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 09:44:30 -0800
From: Barbara Watson <mbwatson @ MAIL.SDSU.EDU>
Subject: Marianismo
People might be interested in the full reference for the article by Stevens
mentioned by one of the respondents:

Evelyn P. Stevens. 1973. :Marianismo:The Other Face of Machismo in Latin
America. In: Ann Pescatello, ed. Female and Male in Latin  America.
University of Pittsburgh Press.

barbara watson
Maria-Barbara Watson-Franke, Ph.D.
Department of Women's Studies
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA 92182
mbwatson  @  mail.sdsu.edu

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