Academic journal article Culture, Society and Masculinities

Stressful Experiences of Masculinity among Young U.S.-Born and Immigrant Latino American Men

Academic journal article Culture, Society and Masculinities

Stressful Experiences of Masculinity among Young U.S.-Born and Immigrant Latino American Men

Article excerpt

Explaining how stereotypes and norms influence role-identities during reflected appraisal processes, we developed a theory broadly applicable to diverse groups of minority men-Minority Masculinity Stress Theory-and apply it to Latino American men. Based on a sample of 62 Latino American men, we analyzed elicited text from an open-ended questionnaire to explain three experiences of masculinity-related stress: performing toughness, engaging romantically/sexually, and enacting el hombre. We found Latino American men emphasize duty beyond typical standards of hegemonic masculinity and base their masculinity on rejecting gendered expectations that they be tough and sexually objectify women. However, Latino American men's role-identities contradict hegemonic masculinity and racial stereotypes resulting in reflected appraisals that refute potentially positive self-concepts and predispose them towards stress.

Keywords: masculinity, Latino American, stress, machismo, Symbolic Interaction, identity

How do Latino American men experience masculinity and how is it stressful? Latino American men's experiences of racialized-self likely differ from other men because of their racial stereotypes, thus leading to stress-perceived harms and challenges to the self that are difficult to meet (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Latino American men are marginally positioned within the hierarchy of hegemonic masculinity (Torres et al., 2002). Adhering to hegemonic masculine norms and overcoming racial stereotypes (e.g., machismo) further depress their self-concepts and mental health (Fragoso & Kashubeck, 2000). Although Latino American men struggle with similar problems as non-Latinos, their structural position demands adherence to American and Latino norms of masculinity. Vacillating between cultures, they may undergo a feedback loop that entails responses to both ideals. Rather than categorically essentializing by assuming a unique Latino American masculinity, we intend to show both racial differences and gendered experiences common among other men. Latino American men's distinctive stressors and expectation to meet American and Latino standards warrant analysis of their masculinity experiences and what is most stressful about them.

Our literature review and analysis revealed two prevailing stressors Latino American men experience: adherence to hegemonic masculine norms and racial stereotypes. Analyzing elicited text from a survey on men's experiences of masculinity, we interpreted our findings using Minority Masculinity Stress Theory (Lu & Wong, 2013). We contribute to research on Latino American masculinity by explaining (1) how stereotypes undermine positive self-concepts, (2) why participants emphasize specific duty-related role-identities to compensate, and (3) which subgroups are predisposed towards stress. Before discussing our findings, we review literature on Latino American masculinity and theory on identity and stress.

HEGEMONIC MASCULINE NORMS AND STEREOTYPES OF LATINO AMERICAN MEN

Hegemonic masculinity denotes the practices (e.g., competitiveness, self-reliance) that indicate the dominant and most endorsed forms of masculinity, such as heterosexual and White (Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005). Within the hierarchy of hegemonic masculinity, men can dominate others through privileged positions that offer advantages such as higher incomes (Connell, 2005). Successfully performing behavioral conventions validate the man identity during interaction (Schröck & Schwalbe, 2009). Exemplars (e.g., wealthy business men, professional athletes) uphold symbolic authority despite most men's inability to meet them (Kimmel, 2011). As devalued forms that contrast ideals, subordinate masculinities (e.g., gay, working-class, Latino) reinforce hegemonic masculinity (Demetriou, 2001).

Dominant culture expects men's endorsement of and adherence to hegemonic masculinity (Fleck, 1995). Expectations of conformity are stressful in at least two ways. …

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