This study examines the social and cross-cultural aspects of masculinity through an ethnographic assessment of a Mexican League baseball team. The institution and meaning of “machismo” are examined along three indices of emotion: expression of vulnerability and hurt, reactions to children, and expression of physicality. The view widely held by North Americans that Latino and Latin American men are one-dimensional machos is critiqued. It is argued that, rather than comprising a single category, machismo exists along a continuum of masculinity from more to less macho. Cross-cultural comparisons of masculinity between Mexican and Anglo baseball players were also observed, with Mexican players shown as more capable of exhibiting “tender” emotions than their North American teammates. Finally, the study of emotions is shown to also have social consequences for nationalism.
Alan M. Klein is with the Department of Sociology/Anthropology, 500 Holmes Hall, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115.