Academic journal article Romance Notes

Rudolph, Jennifer Domino. Embodying Latino Masculinities: Producing Masculatinidad

Academic journal article Romance Notes

Rudolph, Jennifer Domino. Embodying Latino Masculinities: Producing Masculatinidad

Article excerpt

Rudolph, Jennifer Domino. Embodying Latino Masculinities: Producing Masculatinidad. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. 211 pp.

Whether sewn into clothes or woven into threads of identity, one-sizefits-all labels are rarely accurate, and Suzanne Oboler has chronicled the problematic umbrella term "Hispanic" as a short-coming that attempts to homogenize a diverse group of peoples, places, and cultures within the United States. Jennifer Domino Rudolph follows the same current in Embodying Latino Masculinities: Producing Masculatinidad (2012), responding to a similar polemic about notions of "gender, class, ethnoracial formation, and comparative ethnic studies in labors of latinidad" through analysis of theatrical performance, memoirs, music, and baseball (5).

The first chapter examines MACHOS, a 2007 performance by Chicagobased all-female Teatro Luna, and questions of race, gender, and class address the "meanings ascribed to Latino men's bodies via shifting spatial, social, and material cultural markers" (13). Intended "to (re)define macho" as well as to represent the results of a survey of Latino men and their notions of masculinity, the performance reveals commentary on stereotypes, television, and work ethic (14). A close reading of a scene titled "Urinal Piece" approaches questions of sexuality, sexual performance, queer theories, and the body (20-22). Another vignette reveals notions of family dynamics and the common binary construction of marianismo and machismo within a Latino/a context. Concluding with the loss of the original meaning of macho, the performance of MACHOS is problematic because "men are at once the center of the debate on the intersection of race, gender, and class and remain outside of it" (37).

The second chapter takes its cues from the second city: Chicago gangs and party crews are analyzed as bodies and spaces in Reymundo Sanchez's My Bloody Life: The Making of a Latin King (2000) and Once a King, Always a King: The Unmaking of a Latin King (2003); Sanchez's collaboration with Sonia Rodriguez, pseudonym of a former Latin Queen, on Lady Q: The Rise and Fall of a Latin Queen (2008); and Luis Gabriel Aguilera's Gabriel's Fire (2000). The representations of Latino males in these memoirs demonstrate "how masculinist acts of violence, perpetrated by and on both men and women, intersect with dominant notions of Latino masculinities" (44). The socio-economic history of Chicago neighborhoods explains the rise of both gangs and party crews within Latino communities, the results of which mount an increase in body counts, both literally and metaphorically, as well as defined gendered bodies and sexual mores. As an example of Mary Louise Pratt's term, Latino/a studies critics and historians will quickly recall Chicago as one of the first "contact zones" between Mexican and Puerto Rican (im)migrants, and these memoirs "all narrate the journeys of individual males as they make meaning of their lives as Latino men, learn about the body count affecting their neighborhoods, and learn when their bodies do count, albeit based on the fantasies of others" (68).

A coupled reading of Piri Thomas's Seven Long Times (1974) and Jimmy Santiago Baca's A Place to Stand (2001) is on display in the third chapter. Both memoirs showcase an awakening of the individual that questions how life choices and complications have led to a prison sentence, a corollary to larger issues of injustice and ethnicity in the context of concientizacion (73). Writing is highlighted not only as catharsis for identity and survival but also as a link to the body and serves to promote concientizacion for the individual and the group. Location and space are analyzed in various Latino contexts with both authors confined to the jail cell as individuals who struggle to maintain ownership of their own bodies as well as their own histories. Sexuality and masculinity return as major themes of investigation as well as prison economies, prison rape, and "gray areas" of sexual identity (87). …

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