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The Meanings of Macho: Being a Man in Mexico City Hardcover – May 30, 1996

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Editorial Reviews


"An enticing read that draws the reader into the world of the colonia of Santo Domingo and the everyday lives of its residents." -- Contemporary Sociology

"Gutmann elegantly weaves together theory and ethnographic detail, supplemented by often entertaining personal anecdotes and linguistic observations." -- American Journal of Sociology

"Highly original research and high-order theoretical reflection, as well as a nuanced reflexivity and fine writing." -- American Anthropologist

"Matthew Gutmann [has] a rare ability to combine rigorous ethnographic study with theoretical analysis, and his confidence has produced excellent results." -- Journal of Latin American Studies

From the Inside Flap

"At long last—a carefully researched and wonderfully written ethnography that explodes the ubiquitous stereotype of Mexican men as invariably "macho" while tackling head on the inequality between men and women. Challenging the notion that men, masculinity, and male gender identity are simple and homogenous categories, Gutmann skillfully weaves together stories of working class men in a Mexico City colonia, including an outstanding in-depth consideration of 'men's domesticity.' This book does for the study of men what two generations of feminist anthropologists have done for the study of women."—Lynn Stephen, author of Zapotec Women

"This is a significant addition to the literature on masculinity. In this well-constructed ethnography Gutmann's originality—to say nothing of his intellectual honesty—shines through. His focus is on what men do and on what they say they do, and on the role of women in affecting both. He does not shy away from ambiguity but embraces it as a key theme in the attempt to understand how male identities are negotiated. A deft and subtle piece of scholarship."—Michael Herzfeld, Harvard University

"The Meanings of Macho is a highly readable book, full of interesting vignettes recounting masculine behavior and conversations among men in a Mexico City colonia. Matthew Gutmann carefully critiques the stereotype of the 'macho' male and shows us how Mexican men are changing—from holding babies, to helping with the housework, to accepting female leaders in the colonia. There is still public drunkenness, male violence, and wife abuse, but there is also a center for family violence, support groups for spouse abusers, and much discussion about the 'culture of violence and machismo.' Guttman presents a nuanced portrait of the variety of men he studied and the social and economic context of change."—Louise Lamphere, University of New Mexico

"Recent scholarship has taught us much about what it means to be a woman world-wide. But what does it really mean to be a man? In this extremely important and pathbreaking work Matthew Gutmann deftly, carefully, beautifully answers this question, exploring the multiple meanings that manhood holds in the lives and thoughts of working class men and women in Mexico City."—Ramón Gutièrrez, author of When Jesus Came, the Corn Mothers Went Away

Product Details

  • Series: Men and Masculinity (Book 3)
  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (May 30, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520202341
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520202344
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,110,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had to read this book for an anthropological sex and gender course, but as a Mexican who lived in Mexico 9 years, I could almost see myself in the pages. Many things about my family began to make sense, from the most trivial to major, i. e. not being able to eat with adults because children don't exhibit "manners" to the way my father treats my mother. There are, as should be expected, misconceptions from the ethnographer about a couple of things, but nothing a Mexican won't notice. I highly recommended it to everyone in my family, so that they may be more aware of where certain attitudes and practices originated from. Highly recommend it.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jon C. Tevik on November 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
Gutmann's endeavour to analyse the hegemonic and stereotypical notions of machismo, a most ambiguous term both in scientific and popular literature, results in a very comprehensive work where patient nuance is at the core of the engaging analysis. The demographic in the study is working class people (allow for the suggestion of other discourses of manhood to exist in other stratas of the society) in a part of Mexico City, and Gutmann manages to present the socioeconomic realities in which the lives recorded take place. It's an honest account, vitalised by the reflections and comments on personal experiences and emotions in the field. The writing is very seductive, inasmuch as the flowing and engaging style of the study evokes empathy on the part of the reader. The weaving together of chapters dealing with different aspects of his informants' lives (child rearing, division of labour, sexuality, alcohol consumption etc), is masterly done in eliciting the subtleties of the phenomenon that is being macho. Gutmann touches on morality, hegemonic discourses and practices relating to manhood and gendered values, the contestation of these and the emergence of new roles and identities located in the universe of gender. Drawing on concepts like contradictory consciousness, it might be suggested that the writer situates himself in the theoretical landscape where importance is given to actors' strategies and adaptation, however, never failing to outline the objective structures providing the explanatory framework for individual agency. A thouroughly enjoyable read, both for the insights it provides, and for the sheer way they are presented.
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10 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 5, 1996
Format: Paperback
Anthropology should be so insightful. Gutmann, wife Michelle McKenzie and
daughter spent a year in the colonia Santo Domingo from 1992-1993. The
publisher calls this the "first detailed ethnography of machismo in Mexico." With
vignettes and theory in hand, Gutmann carefully reviews the stereotype of
"macho" with the finesse of a classical novelist. Again, the University of
California Press demonstrates that academic work doesn't need to be boring!
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By Javier M Delgado on April 23, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
good price, fast delivery
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