Violence: A Component Of

Cultural Chicano Gender Ideals


The Mexican immigrant, those illegal as well as those who hold valid legal documentation, have more than being of Mexican cultural background in common. At this point you are probably wondering just what that might be. It is understandable, given the present situation in American cities and towns today, large and small. Many see this cultural phenomenon as the invasion of those others, namely the illegal Mexican immigrant. What else is a common factor within both groups? It is the overly exaggerated male gender role known as “Machismo.”

“Machismo” is defined by the Webster’s New World Pocket Dictionary, 4th Edition published in 2000, as a ‘Macho’ quality. “Macho,” as defined by the same source, means “overly virile and domineering.” In a draft submitted (2007) to be published in the American Sociological Association journal by Katy M. Pinto and Scott Coltrane entitled “Understanding Mexican American Fathers: Marital Power, Gender Role Attitudes, and the Division of Domestic Labor,” It is stated that this ideal of Mexican manhood, defines the attitude that the husband is the head of his family and should have the ultimate final word in all matters concerning his family. Machismo carries with it the responsibility “to provide all financial resources for the support and protection of his family.” (Baca, Zinn, 1982; Mirande, 1997; Torres, Solberg and Carlstrom 2002).

The ideal Mexican male is also responsible for the reproduction of progeny, as many as he can, both inside the family (his wife or girlfriend) and outside the family group (non-familial sexual encounters) as well. Many Chicano fathers emphasize as well this principle to their male offspring as a sign of manhood to be apparent for all to see from their earliest of their formative years to adulthood. The father’s defense of his personal honor and that of his family, requires that he must be capable of engaging in physical violence to settle all perceived slights and attacks by rival males, recovering his and their personal honor. Honor is the all-important facet holding the family together in a cohesive identity. This overly exaggerated sense of what it is to be male has carried over to the present in many Mexican families, both in families termed ‘legal’ immigrants as well as those labeled ‘illegal’ immigrant families. In Mexican (Chicano) communities, this role still exists. Though today the practices have been muted due to the husband staying home with the children (unable to find work), and his wife working outside the home to earn wages for the family. Perhaps at times this is the reasoning behind the creation of Chicano gangs, young men proving their masculinity. The ultimate example of ‘Machismo’ to the United States is the violence carried out by these organizations (The Latin Kings are but one of these gangs), which have chapters covering the entire United States. The occurrence of some domestic violence in Chicano homes is not unusual, but it is important to emphasize that domestic violence is a factor in all communities, within all ethnicities, and not just in Chicano communities. As more and more Chicanas work outside the home the concept of Machismo is losing some of its power over the decisions made in the home.

“In response to the concept of Machismo there exists the female version known as ‘Marianismo,’ which delineates the role of the mother and female caretaker of the cohesive unit known as the family.” (Stevens 1973; Torres, Solberg, and Carlstrom 2002). All Mexican females within the nuclear family are subservient to their mother. The mother is the one person that is a constant within the home, even to the present day. She, also, can become violent when she perceives a threat to her children. It is important to point out that this is true of all mothers, even the most placid, and not only those of the Chicano community.

While many Mexican women (Chicanas) now are working outside the home to bring in financial capital to assist in the survival of the family, most times it is due to the non-availability of jobs for their husbands. The cultural gender concept of ‘Marianismo’ for women has not changed.  These cultural gender roles have held the nuclear cohesive unit known as the family together in good times as well as bad, over many centuries, and will remain to define gender roles within the Chicano identity.



The Need for Mexican Migrant Workers

A Repercussion of America’s

Heightened Security:

Crops Rotting in the Fields


While our nation’s security from hostile nations remains a real factor, the loss of revenue to our nations’ farmers is also a subject of concern to our overall economic health. The loss of many agricultural Mexican migrant workers is at the heart of the poor harvests many American farmers are now experiencing. States that produce most of America’s food have been trying to convince their state legislatures to be more lenient when it comes to allowing migrant workers from Mexico to receive working permits to once again help boost America’s breadbasket crops at lower prices. One such State is Kansas, who just recently appealed to their legislature for a solution to Kansas’s slowdown of recent agricultural productivity.

However, Kansas is not alone in its shortage of migrants to harvest cash crops. Michigan, California, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Alabama represent other States, which are suffering from a shortage of experienced migrant farm workers. Given the present situation of increased joblessness, one can no longer afford inflated prices on foodstuffs resulting from lower crop yields, which is the direct result of a shortage of experienced farm workers to harvest crops.

Mexican migrant farmworkers provide a service which cannot be matched at the low wages paid by American farmers. Mexican migrant workers and American Farmers both benefit from harvested crops delivered to market at the peak of freshness, and sold for a healthy profit. Americans are not, for the most part, willing to work the extremely long hours in adverse weather conditions and at low wages as Mexican migrant workers are willing to do. Many Americans do not wish to work as hard as Mexican migrants will, and part of the reason is that many Americans are not physically capable of doing the work, which is required. If Mexican Migrant workers (after cursory background checks) are granted work permits enabling them to work in the United States, it creates a better supply of edible foodstuffs, and helps to alleviate the workload already backed up for the Department of Homeland Security. The time to take this step is NOW! Let’s not wait for farms to fail, and more people put out of work and on the unemployment lines.




Editorial For the South Bend Tribune (Draft)

The Undocumented Mexican Immigrant Family:
Lives Lived In Fear

Imagine, if you can, having to constantly be on the alert for someone who might turn you and your family in for not being in the United States legally. The prospect looms large upon the minds of undocumented immigrant parents, not knowing whether today will be the last day that they will see their children. Most families that are separated from their children do not see them again for many years to come or ever. This is especially the case when one, or both parents do not have legal paperwork to be in the country, and their children were born in the United States. Their children are United States citizens, but they (the parents) are not! This dilemma is encoun-tered on a daily basis by hundreds of thousands of Mexican families, whom are trying to better their lives, emigrating to where there are jobs to be had and the chance of a better life for their spouses and children.
All children deserve the opportunities, which are given freely to the majority of their neighbors, whom by chance, or luck, were born in the United States, and thus became the recipi-ents of these opportunities. Of what opportunities do I speak? The opportunity to attend a school, to receive a high-quality education, and even to attend an institution of higher learning, such as most state and private universities throughout the United States provide today.
One such opportunity is the right to vote for candidates for public office. Being able to voice your concerns about your community is part of civic engagement. The right to drive a car legally in the U.S., enabling the person to get to and from job sites to work to provide for his family, to become a member of a coalition pushing for legislative reform of existing laws, which have, in your opinion, become outdated, and no longer serve their original purpose. These oppor-tunities are denied to Mexican Immigrants without legal paperwork, even though they, too, have to survive in America today.
“Deportation of Mexican Illegal Immigrants has become epidemic in the past decade, es-pecially with the passing of new legislation, such as the USA Patriot Act, and increased efforts to deport undocumented immigrants” (Kanstrom, 2008). The article, entitled “The Impact of Detention and Deportation on Latino Immigrant Children and Families: A Quantitative Exploration,” came from the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, a paper written by faculty members, and was dated 01/01/2010. In the last four years more undocumented immigrants have been detained and deported than in the past two Presidential terms in office. The situation has now come to the point of merely flying the deported to their home state of record in their country of origin, without bothering to detain them long enough to determine whether or not they should be allowed to stay.
The end result is broken families with one or more parents deported, and their children farmed out to foster homes. There have even been cases of the soon to be deported parents kill-ing their children and then taking their own lives to prevent the family members being parted. As an American one can count oneself very fortunate that such an act has never been perpetrated upon oneself. Maybe it is time to stop and take a concerted look at the United States Immigration Policy of today. A more humane and up to date answer to the situation in which many today find themselves is needed now! A solution is out there and now is the time to implement these changes for the betterment of our nation.