My Don Juan: A Blessing and a Curse

Don Juan

Don Juan

By Yesenia Herrera

Latino men in my community are stereotyped in the following ways:

  • Men are level-headed leaders of the home.
  • Machos are unkept, domineering, impulsive, aggressive, and often high status in the community.
  • Mariposas are the equivalent of “fag.” They show “too much” interest in their looks and, perhaps, speak or walk without the signature Latino macho streak.
  • Don Juan’s also take great care of their looks, but they are so busy bedding women that they avoid being seen as gay. In other words, Don Juan’s are mariposas with roses and women — which frees them from stigmatization.

I’ve been blessed (is a curse not a blessing too?) to cross paths with several men who fit at least one of those categories.

And in each case, the label reveals our ranking of men and masculinity above women and femininity.

You can see it in one of my young and silly attempts at love.

The kiss of his Telenovela mind

Nothing compares to living the drama, the heavy passion, the simplicity of pleasure at the smallest of tokens and whispers, of a man who makes art of your life with the kiss of his Telenovela mind.

“Enrique Garcia,” as I’ll call him, was the son of a famous bachatero. He danced his bachata, strummed guitar and sang the tropical melodies as great as his father ever had. In my eyes, he spoke of God and life with a passion founded on classical wisdom.

His special attentions, like gifting a starving vegan (me) with boxes of fresh mangos, and his poetic professions of devotion, left little to ask for.

In other words, he was a beautiful Latino man.

While I saw art in him, more “macho” men laughed

My Enrique was well-groomed and spoke with hands that hinted at a beautiful femininity. But while I saw art in him, and he in himself, the more “macho” men laughed.

His voice was dismissed by male taunts and hisses — regardless of the quality of his thought — as when he rose to speak at city council meetings in a quiet corner of the Dominican Republic.

Women drooled over Enrique and men like him, but feared that any heightened adoption of features befitting the “wrong” gender would doom their family to job-finding scarcity, and to children witnessing a father ridiculed.

Women may lust after such men, but ultimately they fail to see them as a “real men” worthy of their respect and, more importantly, the respect of the men who controlled their society in terms of status, class, politics, and money.

Oddly, women in my community longed for effeminate Don Juan’s not just because of their good looks, but because bedding women brought status.

Dating effeminate mariposas means disrespect

The women of my family and community made their demand: Yesenia must exert good judgement because to date a man of Enrique’s nature is to undertake a tangle of complications, a wave of bitter men, even more bitter women, and a collective disrespect shouted by a patriarchal society.

Today, an older, wiser me now knows that I would not like being married to a man intent on bedding assorted women.

But on the other points I feel differently.

Our wholehearted acceptance of Latino male stereotypes unfairly stomps on femininity — as we rank men and masculinity above women and femininity: men must lead, dominate, avoid all things feminine, and “conquer” women by sleeping with them.

And that creates sorry relationships and retaliations for people of any gender. Too much intimidation and straightjacketed male emotion that prohibits connection, passion and truly felt love.

This was written by one of my students.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on April 22, 2016, in feminism, men, psychology, race/ethnicity and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. This article really highlights the gender norms and expectations of men and women, specifically in Latino culture. The post not only reflects on what a man should and shouldn’t do or how he should carry himself, it also goes over what a woman should look for in a man before considering being serious with him. I am 2nd generation Mexican/Italian. All of the men on my father’s Latin side, adhere to the standards of a “macho” man. In this case, Latino men learn that being a man in society meant that they need to be strong, have pride, and show no emotion. Being popular with women in bed is also looked upon as a sign of manhood. However, it is the complete opposite for women, as sleeping with multiple partners is often frowned upon. Latino cultural norms tend to place men above women, teaching that women are to be controlled by their husbands. This can enable harmful behavior such as physical abuse and violent arguments. For women, they are expected to find a man that is exuberant of masculinity, who can protect and provide for her and their children. Women are also expected to keep themselves “pure” for their husbands, while men are free to have sex with whomever they desire, whether they are single or not.

  2. Katherine Cortez

    I found this article extremely interesting. I have come across men that seem to care about their looks more than I do. For example, I noticed they’d look in the mirror more than I would during the day. They also had a better skin routine than I did, and it reflected on how nice their face looked. They also worried about facial hair, eyebrows, hair. They plugged their eyebrows, always did and worried about how their hair looked. Their hands and nails were always clean, as well as their clothes and shoes. I’ll have to admit, while I was dating them the thought about their sexual orientation would often cross my mind. It wasn’t until I talked to someone who knew him better than I did, she shifted my whole perspective about him. I was labeling him into being a Don Juan as the article talks about. Yet this was just a way of him taking care of himself and making himself be comfortable in his own skin, and that the end of the day this is a great quality for men, women and anyone to have. It is better than having to come across a person who does the total opposite and can’t seem to feel good about themselves and does nothing to change that. What will they transmit to others? I personally think just negative energy, because that’s what they feel inside.

  3. Aqualeana I must correct a notion that is not true. Metrosexuals, is a really poor name for the men it is meant to describe. They are always straight and were formerly known as sissy boys as children. In other words the Beta males. Apha males are the strong macho types that lead with their brawn. Generally girly girls are attracted to them. As a tomboy I see Beta men as my opposite sex and am attracted to them. I don’t need a partner to stand up for me in a fight, but I do need one to come home to who understands my experience and with a hug can make everything better.
    Alpha men make for better husbands and better fathers. I actually feel sorry for women who are attracted to emotionally-constipated Alpha men who need to be told how to dress.

  4. Mariposa is quite an old fashioned word to describe what we call nowadays a Metro Sexual… Most times they are not solely gays but bisexuals…
    Don Juan… sigh… I have never been with one… woefully..
    anyway, The movie Don Juan de Marco, featuring Johnny Deep, came across my mind… and of course, Lord Byron´s Lord Byron “Don Juan” and Mozart´s opera `Don Giovanni´…
    Good post, Georgia… thanks for sharing… best wishes. Aquileana 😙

    • I think my student is from Mexico and you are from Argentina so that the word Mariposa might be used differently in the two countries. Thanks for your thoughts on this. 🙂

  5. Ignacio Ramirez

    As I read through this, a lot of it was extremely familiar. Men, as well as women, face stereotype that causes insecurities about sexuality and gender identity. For instance, I have visited my family in Mexico multiple times and the stereotypes describes in this are very prominent in the Latino culture. Men who tend to groom themselves more attentively are seen as feminine and even accused of being gay. While more “macho” men that have a rugged appearance in comparison often have a reputation of being able to bring the bread to the table and to be much more sexually active.

  6. Prince is rather feminine and the ladies loved him.”

    I was just about to post that, especially since the news. They were talking about prince’s girlfriends and women and they were beautiful and sexy women he’s been with. A ton of women love him and lusted for him. And he was always so feminine and flamboyant and seemed “gayish”. I think I head he was actually bi sexual as far as orientation. But it didn’t matter women were attracted to him,

    But I wonder if it’s because of his musical talent, his charisma, his passion and raw energy, which made him have this big sex appeal. He always added sexuality usually to his music and I think this magneticism turned women on or attracted to him. But I wonder if that’s what like made women overlook and attracted to him and his flamboyance mean nothing or overlooked because of that. The reason I wonder is because, I wonder if women would have fawned over a guy tiny and feminine like him who wasn;t musical or musically talented and just a regular tiny guy looking similar to prince and same fashion and act? Some reason I don’t think so. I think a lot of it was his talent that women were attracted to despite his demeanor or ignore it, whereas, not ignored with tlaent or something to draw women away from something that would or could otherwise turn them off? (girlyness)?

    • his charisma, his passion and raw energy, which made him have this big sex appeal.

      + his unthreatening by high sexuality.

      I think women would find him attractive even without his talent and fame.

      • its unthreatening, because of his flamboyance? I have to admit this though. He did dress and act kind of feminine, but he also did have a masculine energy coming through the flamboyant outfits and look. So that might be what got women. Because if he didn’t have a masculine talk or energy, I don’t think nearly as many women would be into him and would think he was completely gay and not interested. But I have to say, his charism and passion and all that that women like and attracted through comes from and is expressed from his music.

        So even he didn’t have music talent, women don’t see that expression of passion and energy, because from I’ve read is he’s actually quite reclusive and almost anti-social. His raw energy sex appeal came from his performance, but you need talent to express that. Like how women like the don juans who move them through beautiful paintings or poetry. But the painter actually has to have the skill to draw or paint to express his art as well as the poet has to have the talent with words ha. If they don’t, it won’t look good, just like a guy who tries to express himself through music with singing, but he’s tone deaf and his singing voice is just awful ha. He has the intent, but unfortunatley lacks the talent behind it. Prince had it both obviously, the passion and the talent to express it.

        It seems like a contradiction for women though. Because women often like men to either have some boldness, be a handy man, and look or seem like they can protect them and even with more equality some old views. How often do you know women who feel uncomfortable being taller than their man? Well many or most women would be taller or same height as prince. I mean he is TINY. Not just height but build too. Some guys can be very sure, but they have a regular man build. I mean Bruno mars is short, but not as short as Prince, but he has a regular slim man build. It’s weird how really beautiful women dated him, but they otherwise wouldn'[t be with a man of his size and build and make exceptions or wouldn’tt be with one with flamboyant dress and such. He’s only 5’2, he looks even shorter and he looks like he’s 100lbs even. That’s why I said that, because many women don’t like dating a guy they are taller and bigger than. Even a slim healthy woman’s weight is or can be 115-125lbs, even at 110, she’d probably be heavier than him or same weight. I didn’t think women would be attracted to a guy where they feel they’d have to protect him in a fight or couldn’t protect her and who she could lift and throw around ha. I guess if they are into role reversal ha. idk

      • Non-threatening because of his femininity. He seems gentle. And his flamboyant outfits seem feminine, too. (In our culture, anyway, where guys are expected to wear drab blue, grey, black… Bullfighters in Spain, on the other hand, are both flamboyant and macho.) It’s true that women also like more masculine men like David Beckham, But variety is the spice of life. And some women might prefer one type while other women might prefer another.

      • Yes Spain men have flamboyant outfits like conquistadors . But these guys are normal sized and well built even so they have strength with flamboyance . Prince isn’t just flamboyant but ridiculously tiny so interesting women would be attracted to a man that might need them to ” open the pickle jars for him”

      • Luckily, there isn’t only one body type that is preferred. That’s a good thing for men.

  7. These stereotypes of latino men does not necessarily set stereotypes of any way unto women. Also, these Don Juan’s could be every latino girls’ fantasised imagery brought to life. Who are we to blame them for having said fantasies. Even the author admits that it was once desirable to have sexual/intimate relationships with a Don Juan. The time for gender equality has not come to passed yet. But when it does, I hope too so does the Don Juanitas in society.

  8. I agree with your views, but i feel many women do feel better if they find men who would use their masculinity to make them feel good in bed?

    • Could be. Is that due to socialization?

      That said, I totally get what Yesenia is saying here. Sounds attractive to me.

      Also depends on which aspects of masculine and feminine you are talking about. For instance, a lot of women – the vast majority, actually — are drawn by emotional connection, which has been labeled feminine. “Feminine” traits of emotion, connection, vulnerability and interdependence are very attractive traits in lovers for most women. (Most men appreciate those traits too, in their lovers.)

      And all of our personality traits are human. We just assign some of them to women and call them feminine, and assign others to men and call those masculine.

  9. as always interesting and thought provoking! I’ve always gone for character, rather than looks…

  10. This is a beautiful piece of writing. I congratulate your student on this piece. This does not just apply to Latino men, it describes many men in many different cultural backgrounds. Once again my congratulations to a piece well written.

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