Truth be told, I was quite excited to see the long-form presentation about transnational feminist movements in Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula in the early decades of the last century. After having gone through the finished presentation twice, I am elated to say that it did not disappoint!

I quite enjoyed Ana’s presentation on the subject, especially the underlying questions established in the beginning. Indubitably, these provided a balanced and intuitive framework of analysis for discussion, and also opened up four quite intriguing frontiers, which proved to be fruitful basis for a comprehensive introduction to the matter at hand. A clear-cut and articulate portrayal of the notion of Machismo was given, thereby establishing the historical pressures on women in the discussed regions, and how Machismo facilitated feminism at the time, and more precisely the need for it. Furthermore, it also inspired me to do more reading on the issue of Machismo, which is quite an achievement from Ana, given the gruelling workload this time of the year.

My mini research project led me down a rabbit hole of neologism and transnational thought. For example, having done reading on the matter both in English and in Hungarian, I noticed how the word ‘macho’ appears to this day in a wide array of literature and other media. I found this to be a convergent pattern between different cultures, in terms of the terminology, and its respective origins. While it is agreed on that in most Indo-European languages the word ”macho” first appears around the 1920s, originating from Mexican Spanish, and meaning ‘masculine’. This is quite neat so far, however, I found that the word “macsó” in Hungarian has a very similar meaning, but also a completely different origin. While English, German, French, and Castilian Spanish languages all borrowed the word from Latin America, in Hungarian “macsó” – with the exact same pronunciation as “macho” – originates from the name of an ethnic group of the same name in the Carpathian Basin. The “macsó” people of Southern Hungary found themselves on the frontier of multiple transnational conflicts, and as such got a reputation for being rough and stoic, a very similar pattern to what the word entails on the other side of the Atlantic. I am currently doing further research into cognitive linguistics, and learning more about how the same linguistic phenomenology appears across different languages independently from one another.

That said, this side project of mine is nowhere near the main point of the presentation, which adeptly showcases the early decades of first wave feminism in the regions discussed. Another interesting facet of this, which Ana elaborated on is the apparent colonial connotation of the subject. It is explained quite neatly that pre-colonial Spanish legal systems affected and inspired the way, in which feminism blossomed in the Ibero-American sphere. I found it especially fascinating that a major factor in this was Muslim law in medieval Spain.

While I find the questions raised at the end of the presentation rather insightful, I would also like to add three of mine, based on my interpretation of Ana’s precise and outstanding research:

  1. How does Machismo contradict the – in regards to gender at least – egalitarian pre-colonial origins of Iberian law? Could it be due to a synthesis of pre-Colombian and Iberian cultures? Or could it be due to the absolutist tendencies under Charles V and Philip II, which in hindsight amplified the masculine elements of Iberian cultures?
  2. How do second and third wave feminism manifest in Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula, given the different origins of the movement in the regions discussed? Do they manifest? And if so, do they retain their criticism of Machismo, which we know is prevalent to this day?
  3. How does Machismo impact men? Is its effect fully assertive, or does it indoctrinate men to maintain a facade of stoicism and confidence, similar to the US, Canada, and Western Europe?

Overall, I found the topic to be a multi-faceted and intriguing excursion, as well as a rather thought-provoking exploration of modern femininity and masculinity in Latin America and Iberia. I would be keen to learn more about how feminism manifests across different cultures, given the complexities provided by colonialism and transnational pressures. Thanks Ana for this very cool presentation!

A Response To Ana’s Presentation

One thought on “A Response To Ana’s Presentation

  • May 6, 2020 at 10:30 pm

    Hi Adam, thank you so much for such thoughtful comments on my presentation! For a start, I loved you exploration into the term ‘machismo’. I think that although it’s a term that is often related to Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula, I think it is definitely worth exploring – both in terms of linguistics, and also how the definition of ‘macho’ is interlinked to the portrayal of gender (and particularly masculinity) all across the globe.

    In regards to your questions, im actually working on the project right now and feel a bit inspired by them. You’re completely right, there is so much more work that needs to be done to uncover gendered relations in Latin America and the Atlantic. In regards to your first question, about pre-colonial and colonial Iberian law, and its impact on feminist movements and just the way gender roles are exercised in Latin America I think that you are completely right: not only is it worth exploring Charles V and Philip II (and perhaps, maybe on the subject of rulers, the fact that Spain was ruled by its first Queen Isabella I of Castile at the time of the discovery of America), but I also think it might be worth to explore the masculine elements of Iberian cultures thought the colonial period, and into the wars of independence in the 19th century. This is something that I definitely want to look into when writing my dissertation next year.

    Moreover, your second question about second and third wave feminism is extremely important. I think that I really decided on this topic out of my own experience of being a woman in Latin America and Spain. I not only think but I know that second and third wave feminism in Iberoamerica has been quite different than everywhere else, especially because both Spain and Portugal, as well as several Latin American Countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and more) were subject to right-winged authoritarian dictatorships in the mid 20th century. This for sure, hindered the development of second-wave feminism. This difference in the way the feminist movement works, even today, in Latin America and the Iberian peninsula versus the United States or the rest of Europe is really what prompted me to start investigating Iberoamerican feminist movementsI do strongly believe that the nature of the first wave feminist movements in Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula undoubtedly marked the second and third wave, and I think this could develop into a second part for my project.

    And lastly, regarding your question about masculinity – I also think it would be an interesting turn on my project. Essentially, I have focused on women because I have worked on ‘feminist movements’, but surely I believe that the same way that there is a sort of unified experience of womanhood between Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula (stemming from culture, pre-colonial laws etc), it must also be true for manhood and masculinity. I actually wrote a short essay last semester on masculinity in early modern Europe and touched a bit on Spain – where I uncovered that constantly proving masculinity and maintaining male honour was perhaps more important in Southern Europe than in the rest of Europe. Nonetheless, this really needs to be studied more and could also be another direction for this topic to take.

    Once again thank you so much for your comments and questions, I am completely there with you and think that there is just so much more to learn in regards to gender in Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula, and the transnational connection between them!

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