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Goldwert, M. (1985). Mexican Machismo: The Flight from Femininity. Psychoanal. Rev., 72(1):161-169.

(1985). Psychoanalytic Review, 72(1):161-169

Mexican Machismo: The Flight from Femininity

Marvin Goldwert, Ph.D.

There are many ways by which the adult male copes with feelings of femininity and bisexuality. Denial, reaction formation, and sublimation are among the common mechanisms of defense against bisexuality. In the case of the Mexican macho, denial and reaction formation are the mechanisms by which he represses feelings of femininity. To ward off these feelings, the macho assumes the role of virile he-man and daring man-of-action. Such role-playing is the product of both historical forces and family conditioning, and these will be the theme of this paper.

The denial of bisexuality, or the flight from femininity, is at the core of Mexican machismo, the cult of male virility so typical of Spanish America's history and culture. Indeed, it may be argued that all of Spanish American culture-typified by hypermasculine machos and hyperfeminine marianas-is built on a denial of bisexuality. This psychological undercurrent is the product of both historical and family conditioning.

Mexican history, the story of a mestizo society, was forged in what sociologist Salvador Reyes Nevares (1970) calls “metaphysical bisexuality.” During the conquest, the Spanish conquistadors played the role of active, masculine intruders who raped the passive/feminine Indian civilization. In conquest the Spaniards, the first machos, demonstrated an almost superhuman will to overcome obstacles and a supreme indifference to difficulties. They personified the male of fabulous qualities, tainted by the violence which has since underpinned human relations in Spanish America. Valiant, cruel, indefatigable, courageous, villainous, and running the gamut of extremes in Spanish character, the conquistador literally raped the Indian civilization.

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