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Macho, Macho, Man! - the Definition of Masculinity

By:   •  May 12, 2018  •  Research Paper  •  1,896 Words (8 Pages)  •  122 Views

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Macho, Macho Man!

Jacqueline Aguilar

Chicano Studies 3311

Tuesday and Thursday 10:30 am

Final Exam

Macho, Macho, Man!

        The definition of masculinity is having qualities appropriate to or usually associated with a man. Machismo on the other hand is a strong or exaggerated sense of manliness; an assumptive attitude that virility, courage, strength, and entitlement to dominate are attributes or concomitants of masculinity. The Chicano cultures is one that still embraces machismo, and where there are very defined roles that men play and defined roles that women play. When the terms transgendered, homosexuality or bisexuality are thrown into the mix, things can get a little convoluted in Chicano homes. This leaves a young Chicana/o that are transgendered, homosexual or bisexual to have to deal with struggles within hers/his own family, overwhelming  feelings of isolation and rejections from family and religious communities and  still have to face being bullied at school by their peers. Andrew Cray of the Center for American Progress says that there are three barriers that stand between the LGBT youth and healthier future; homelessness, family rejection, and bullying. In keeping with Andrew Cray, he states that, “Every day, thousands of LGBT youth in the United States face injustice in schools, danger in their homes, or uncertainty on the streets.”

        When it comes to teenagers, parents and conflict go hand and hand. What kid has not felt like their parents just do not “understand them”? But for many Chicana/o teenagers this is a true and unfortunate struggle that they have to face with their families if and when they decide to come out to them. Parents are supposed to embody a loving and nurturing environment such as in the case of Nick Guerra in Saenz’s story, The Art of Translation, when he went home seeking and craving the security it brought him to be close to his mother and father. Home is the one place where a person should feel like they belong even if they do not anywhere else.  But in the case of many fathers with machismo attitudes, being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered (LGBT) is completely “unnatural” and unacceptable. This leaves some fathers to do just about anything in the attempt to “change” their child. In the film Gun Hill Rd, Enrique completely disapproved of Vanessa’s sexuality and in the attempt to defeminize her, he cuts her hair. Enrique also attempts to turn Vanessa back in to a “man” when he takes her to the prostitute that then proceeds to rape her. Not all young members of the LGBT community are as fortunate to have the backing of a nurturing mother like Vanessa did in the film. Many of them are kicked out of their home and left on the streets.  According to Margot Adler from NPR, “somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of homeless youths identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.” Andrew Cray explains that “Homelessness disrupts the lives and development of these young people” and can lead to negative effects in mental and physical health, lower educational completion, and economic instability. If one cannot go home to the place where they are supposed to “belong”, often that can make someone seek nurturing someplace else or with something else. When Nick from The Art of Translation went home with Silvia after the bar, he too was seeking nurture and a sense of belonging. Marissa Cevallos of the Los Angeles Times states that “ research indicates that gay and bisexual teens are also more likely to engage in a wide range of risky behavior -- such as using drugs, alcohol and tobacco; having unprotected sex….”  This leaves many teens with feelings of rejection and isolation.

        Family and religion often bring people a sense of comfort, welcoming and belonging.  In Benjamin Saenz’s book, Everything Begins and Ends at The Kentucky Club, the Kentucky Club is a place where everyone, from all walks of like can feel welcomed. The fact of the matter is that for many Chicanos in the LGBT community this sense of belonging does not exist in the church or with the family. Most Chicano families practice Catholicism, 63 percent, according to Linda Lyons from Gallup. The Catholic Church considers it a “sin” to be a homosexual, bisexual, and transgendered leaving them with feelings of isolation and being disillusioned with the church. Saenz’s story He Has Gone to Be With the Women expresses this disillusion when Juan Carlos and Javier are at the funeral and Juan Carlos says, “…neither Javier or I were believers. How could we believe in a church that did not believe in us…”  These beliefs can also drive a wedge between families who are dealing with a family member that is part of the LGBT community. Parents that have these strong religious beliefs will often turn their backs on their own children.  Although religion teaches love and understanding and that god is love that is not what a lot of these teens feel. They are made to feel shame and like outcasts.  Often this feeling of rejection can lead these teens to become depressed and to feel that there is not and person or place to turn to. With depression though, there is a high risk of suicide or suicidal thoughts. Andrew Cray explains that LGBT young adults who feel like they have no family support are more than eight times more likely to attempt suicide.  Marissa Cevallos too states that gay teens are more likely to commit suicide but also claims that the rate of suicides is lower when they live in “supportive” areas. Andrew Cray notes that family acceptance and rejection is a two-way street and that, “family acceptance has a protective effect against adverse health outcomes for LGBT people. Families that stand by their LGBT children insulate them from many health risks, including HIV infection and suicidal ideation.”   An LGBT young adult not only struggle to gain acceptance and support at home and from religious communities, but in school as well a place where ALL students should feel safe.

        School bullying is a nationwide issue but this is more so the case among the LGBT youth. Bullying can directly result in physical injury and cause major emotional distress. Some LGBT youth not only feels rejected by family and religion but they are also rejected and bullied by their own peers at school. Machismo is not only an issue at home but it plays a role in school; little boys plays with cars and balls, they are supposed to be rough and tough and of course be attracted to little girls. Little girls on the other hand, play with doll, play house and are supposed to be gentle, sweet and delicate and be attracted to boys. Any variation to that is often met with resistance and discrimination. According to Andrew Cray bullying is experienced in the LGBT youth at alarming rates and that, “Studies show that between 78 percent and 86 percent of LGBT students experience verbal harassment in their schools because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”  Not only is the LGBT youth bullied and harassed verbally but they are also subject to physical attacks with nearly a quarter of LGBT students reporting being physically a attacked at school. Often it is not just students that take part in this harassment; teachers or staffs are also reported to harass nearly a third of transgendered students and five percent reporting physical assault by these adults. All students should feel safe when in school, but how can anyone, regardless sex, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, feel safe with when even teachers are willingly engaging in bullying along with other students?  Andrew Cray challenges lawmakers by stating that” If lawmakers are truly dedicated to the well-being of American students, protecting them in schools and passing the Student Non-Discrimination Act would be an excellent start.” The Student Non-Discrimination Act would prohibits  public school  students from being excluded from participation in or subject  to discrimination under, any federally-assisted educational program on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or that of their associates. This law would also consider harassment to be a form of discrimination. Passing this law could alleviate at least one aspect of the several perils faced by LGBT young adults. This issue should not be left just for the policymakers to correct. No one is born with hate or discrimination in their hearts; children are so innocent and pure. Hate and discrimination is embedded in their heads by outside influences.   Teaching children when they are very young not to discriminate anyone is a job all parents need to take to heart. Teaching acceptance to children regardless of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identification is very important and would absolutely impact the LGBT youth in a positive way.    


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