Mexican American Culture
Why do we always think Mexican men drink tequila and sing mariachi tunes, while the women are pretty seoritas?
Mexicans frequently blame ustedes for perpetuating various stereotypes about nosotros over the centuries, but a big part of the blame also falls on us. During the Second World War, a time when Mexico's film industry experienced a renaissance that scholars refer to as La Época de Oro (The Golden Age), Mexican movie studios produced great social tales, comedies and horror films, but the ones that received most acclaim were the comedias rancheras. They starred matinee idols such as Pedro Infante and Jorge Negrete, who meted out frontier justice and wooed the chicas guapas from underneath sombreros while always guzzling tequila and riding on horseback. The image came from the state of Jalisco, birthplace of mariachi and tequila. "Needing a people who could personify hispanismo," wrote Joanne Hirschfield in "Race and Class in the Classical Cinema," an essay in the anthology Mexico's Cinema: A Century of Film and Filmmakers, "its proponents found them in Los Altos de Jalisco. The mythology of Los Altos created a horse-riding people who were devoutly Catholic and capitalistic, had never intermarried with Indians, and played Mariachi music." Mexico thought Americans would think better of beaners as singing caballeros, but Hollywood didn't care they inverted the Jaliscan tropes and created the fat, drunk, gold-toothed greaseball archetype. As for Mexican women being sultry and spicy that's all documentary, baby.
I was sitting around with my daughter and her Mexican husband the other day talking about her past. Jokingly, I mentioned that when she was a teenager (30 years ago), lots of boys came by the house to see her. Her husband flew into a rage and said that Mexicans consider such a comment extremely discourteous. Since his anger seemed out of proportion to my comment, and most men are even a bit flattered to hear that their wives are or were attractive to other men, I'm wondering whether his anger is his problem or whether he was right about Mexican customs and I unwittingly had been discourteous.
You were being rude according to Mexican standards. That said, fuck your son-in-law. You've stumbled onto one of the great hypocrisies in Mexican society while men boast about their previous conquests with the fervor usually reserved for tales of midnight runs across the border, women are expected to stay mum about any past chorizos they might've stuffed. This double standard is a tool of power not to squash female sexuality, mind you, but to placate the pussy egos of the seemingly macho Mexican hombre, which can't comprehend a mujer who exists outside the Madonna/whore duality. All this might change, though, if Alicia Elena Perez Duarte gets her way. She's Mexico's special prosecutor for crimes against women and is trying to pass a law that would punish overly jealous husbands.
ASK A MEXICAN CONTEST! Want a free autographed copy of my book? Send a picture to the e-mail below of yourself or an amigo reading the Mexican while standing outside your local Mexican consulate. Photo must clearly show the consulate and the newspaper (or printed web version) in which you read this pinche column. One winner per consulate only, so first picture from each region gets the book! Don't live close to a consulate? Don't worry the Mexican invasion will bring one to a neighborhood near you soon!
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.