Gender Roles in Hispanic Culture

Bridget Tribby, Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo
  • Author
    Bridget Tribby

    Bridget is an English, Business and Marketing teacher who has been teaching high school for the past seven years. Bridget has taught in Colorado, Missouri and Florida and has a Master's degree in Teaching Secondary Education and a Bachelor's degree in Marketing. Bridget is certified to teach English 6-12, Business 6-12 and Marketing 6-12.

  • Instructor
    Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

    Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

Learn about the gender roles in Hispanic culture, the typical gender roles in Hispanic households, machismo culture, and how machismo affects families. Updated: 07/22/2022

Table of Contents


Gender Roles in Hispanic Culture

In the United States, Hispanic culture refers to the customs and social institutions of all Spanish speakers, including people from Spain and Latin America. Gender roles in Hispanic culture are unique to each family, person, and group, and do not apply to a particular country or person in general. Gender roles can greatly vary from family to family. While some families have equal responsibilities in the household, many cling to traditional gender roles. Gender roles in Hispanic households can be generationally developed to create separations between male and female household responsibilities. Machismo, or extreme masculine behavior, can influence how men behave socially. Machistas may be more aggressive and possessive toward women. They may make demeaning comments and view women as inferior.

Typical male gender roles in Machismo culture include the following:

  • Appear tough, strong, and capable
  • Attain education and a career to provide for a family
  • Demand respect and authority in the household
  • Make lifestyle and financial decisions for the household
  • Embrace arrogant and possessive attitude toward women and children

Typical female gender roles in Machismo culture:

  • Maintain a respectful, subservient attitude
  • Responsible for raising children and household upkeep
  • Show ultimate respect to the machista

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  • 0:04 What Does 'Hispanic' Mean?
  • 0:35 Machismo and Gender Roles
  • 1:08 Traditional Gender Roles
  • 2:17 Women's Position in Society
  • 3:20 Change in Society
  • 4:54 Lesson Summary
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What is Machismo Culture?

Machismo culture demonstrates male dominance in some Hispanic cultures. Some Hispanic males displaying machismo demand ultimate respect from their family members and expect to be regarded as the highest authority within the household. The machista culture creates a power dynamic in which the male has control over household decisions and finances and the woman is subservient to the male. Machismo culture is chauvinistic in nature and places females in a lower social position than males. Machismo Mexican culture depicts machista males as strong, powerful, and the ultimate masculine ideal. In this instance, the wife is responsible for household chores and cooking, while the husband earns the family's income.

Machismo Culture Definition

Machismo culture is a social attitude of sexist origin in which the male exhibits overbearing control over his wife and children. In Machismo culture, the male demands that his family members are completely subservient to his role as the head of the family. It is common for the wife to be expected to stay home while the husband works. Machismo culture echoes the ancient gender roles in which men were hunters and gatherers who provided for the family's survival, while women were responsible for cooking, cleaning, and rearing children.

This social behavioral pattern can lead to traits of toxic masculinity, including instances of physical, emotional, and financial abuse towards females and children. Machistas can be demeaning and possessive towards women because they view themselves as superior to women. Some of the consequences of the toxic masculinity displayed by machista males include feelings of anxiety, depression, and hostility within the family. In some instances, domestic violence can result from the Machismo culture. Many countries are passing legislation to combat domestic violence and diminish the effects of toxic masculinity. While extremely common in Hispanic households for many generations, recent changes in society have shown a noticeable decrease in the Machismo culture.

Machismo Examples

The following are some examples of Machismo culture:

  • A father who denies his daughter's right to education based on the belief that her role is to get married and have children.
  • A husband is solely responsible for the household income and therefore restricts spending by only allowing his wife limited access to money.
  • A machista male makes demeaning comments toward women in the workplace and makes physically threatening gestures and movements towards women.

These examples showcase some of the toxic masculinity traits associated with Machismo culture. In each example, the male is displaying a domineering attitude which diminishes the female's role. The machista male believes he is the ultimate authority and possesses a toxic level of power and strength.

How Does Machismo Affect Families?

Machismo culture creates an unequal power dynamic within families. The spouse and kids become subservient to the machista male and often become fearful. The spouse and children have limited autonomy due to the machista male being in ultimate control. This dynamic creates a harmful environment that prohibits the growth and expression of those family members who are controlled by the machista. Members of the family who are subservient may develop codependent behaviors, have limited autonomy, and pursue lower levels of education.

For example, in a Machismo household, family members may have to ask permission to do simple things like buy food or clothing. While many teens work part time jobs to have extra spending money, a machista male would not allow his child to work because it would threaten his authority as sole provider for the family.

Another example displays the unequal opportunities for males and females. A machista may allow his son to pursue post-secondary education while denying that opportunity to his daughter. Education is seen as less important for women because their role is in the home. She will be expected to cook and clean for her family. This provides greater career opportunities and independence for the male child, while keeping the female child under the control of the machista. This behavior can limit opportunities for family members and prohibit people from pursuing relationships, education, and career opportunities.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is machismo in Hispanic culture?

In Hispanic culture, machismo is the sexist behavior of males acting in an arrogant and possessive way towards women. Machismo is considered to be a display of strength and power that is overbearing and demeaning towards women.

What are the gender roles in Hispanic families?

Gender roles vary from family to family in Hispanic families. Traditional gender roles include males working to provide for the family while the woman's role is being at home caring for the home and children.

What is an example of machismo?

An example of machismo is a male making demeaning comments to a female in the workplace as a show of dominance. This example highlights the belief that women are inferior to men in machismo culture.

What is machismo behavior?

Machismo behavior includes making demeaning comments towards women, making threatening physical gestures, and making sexist comments. In some instances, machismo behavior can be verbally or physically abusive.

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