3. Arturo Islas’ The Rain God (Part 1)

February 5
1. READ: Islas, Arturo. The Rain God, (p. 1 – 50: 1. Judgment Day)
2. READ: Juan Gonzalez, Harvest of Empire, “Gonzalez – HoE Mexicans” (PDF)
3. PRESENTATION: Ayaa Elgoharry & Prekiya Kennebrew

Download The Rain God Presentation

February 7

1. READ: Islas, Arturo. The Rain God, (p. 53 – 110: 2. Chile & 3. Compadres and Comadres)
2. READ: Alfredo Mirandé, Hombres y Machos: Masculinity and Latino Culture, “Genesis of Mexican Masculinity” (p. 29 – 42), “Masculinity: Traditional and Emergent Views” (p. 81 – 99)
3. PRESENTATION: (on The Rain God) Victoria & Romy Garcia
4. PRESENTATION: (on Mirandé) Patrick Murphy & Iris Foley

Download Lead Discussion-The Rain God

Download Hombres y Machos PowerPoint

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78 Responses to 3. Arturo Islas’ The Rain God (Part 1)

  1. A mother paints her son’s toenails hot pink because it is his favorite color. Does that mean he will become gay or transgender? That is the controversy surrounding this Ad. As I was I watched the video about the J. Crew Ad, I could not help but laugh at the idea that something so innocent can spark so much outrage. Many people were offended to see a boy with his nails painted, this got so out of control that many started to question the mothers parenting skills, and many asserted that such behavior might make a boy question his sexuality.

    Children learn at a very early age what it means to be a boy or a girl in our society. Through countless activities, overt behaviors and various forms of guidance, children experience the process of gender role socialization from the day they are born. As children move through childhood and into adolescence, they are exposed to many factors that influence their attitudes and behaviors regarding gender roles. These attitudes and behaviors are generally learned first in the home and are then reinforced by peers, school, and the media. We have normalized this idea that the color blue is representative for boys and the color pink is for girls. There’s nothing feminine about the color pink, and nothing masculine about the color blue, it’s all a result of a habit that’s developed over time. My question always is why are we so afraid of challenging what is around us ? I do not understand what does color have to do with the sexual orientation of a person. So he likes the color pink, so what?

    I believe that every generation brings a new definition of masculinity and femininity that manifest itself in the way children get to dress. In addition, it about time that media (whether through Ads commercial, etc) is pushing the celebration of gender free stereotypes and some people are challenging the cultural norm.

    • laurentodd91 says:

      Great points Brichelle! I completely agree with your statement, ” every generation brings a new definition of masculinity and femininity.” Society is constantly changing its views and whats the ‘norm’. What is something today that may be seen as feminine can be seen in years to come as masculine. It is crazy to think that men and women are being judged on their sexuality by things such as clothes, hair styles, and accessories.

      • alease810 says:

        It is fascinating that pink and blue can signal such a strong message even though the colors themselves, as you remark, are completely meaningless. I would be interested in knowing the origin of these signals, but have a feeling its classical conditioning where blue and pink were used to distinguish males from females and now the colors themselves have taken on those definitions. I think its interesting that there was such an uproar about the painting of nails since many men do get pedicures and manicures that are straight. Engaging in such behavior doesn’t by any means appoint a sexual orientation.

      • Jean-Claude Nicolas Jr. says:

        I agree with you as well. To show just how absurd the relationship between color and gender has become, let’s go back in time. Purple was once a color that symbolized royalty; that being said, it was primarily masculine. Red, even in countries’ flags symbolizes the blood that was shed for the price of their independance. Now both of these colors are gender-related to femininity.

        Perhaps we should also look at the long standing, old english tradition of men wearing wigs. Prominent men; lawmakers, magistrates, judges, heads of states, all used to wear wigs. Of course, we know that old english society was even more male-dominated than today. Yet a man caught wearing a wig today is labeled a drag queen or a wanna-be Ru-Paul. The moral of the story is to show the constant changes society undergoes and how we, in essence, enforce these unrealistic changes via hegemonic ideology.

    • Edward Ortega says:

      The crazy thing is that although I personally know that something as silly as buying a baby boy a blue balloon carries an implication of gender roles, I will most likely continue to make the association between “boy” and the color “blue.” This is because these concepts are heavily fixed in our psyche through vast networks of social constructions. Although I am aware of the attitudes and behaviors that society has attached to these trivial elements, I have been programmed to follow these norms to the point where I would stop and think twice before breaking them.

      As a child, my parents would buy me Hot Wheels, despite my disdain for cars; they would buy me soccer balls, despite my lack of interest in sports; they even bought me a Home Depot Tool set, when I had no interest in repairing or building anything. These toys are made specifically for young boys in hopes of conditioning them and molding them to achieve this idea of a hegemonic masculine society. God forbid a parent buys an Easy Bake Oven for their little boy because he happens to love brownies. Even if one is aware of gender norms and their negative implications, choosing the path of least resistance will always feel effortless and less controversial. It is sad really.

      • Jean-Claude Nicolas Jr. says:

        I heard of a line of clothing that’s gender neutral. I am all for breaking the mold and learned behaviors that society says we must follow. I think thats why Chef Emeril is such a huge success because he passionately and proficiently does a task that society labeled as feminine. Now all the sudden, every guy wants to be the cook of the house. If Emeril can do it, so can they. What a shame that countless men are forced to turn away from something they enjoy doing because it’s not manly.

        I’m also glad to see women are breaking the gendered tasks. There seems to be a rise in female CEO’s, CFO’s and other jobs that society once said only men can perform. My youngest sister lives downtown Manhattan. The reason why she can afford such high rent is because of her job as the CFO at GE. Congrats!!

  2. laurentodd91 says:

    We could see through the image above and in part 1 of the Rain God the fear and controversy about how to raise children. The panic is all about if you’re NOT perpetuating masculine and feminine stereotypes to your growing child. If a young boy is raised playing with dolls like Miguel chico or having his toe nails painted pink like in the image above it is led to believe the young boy is being feminized and therefore gay, which is most definitely not the case. The fear is all about a child’s life being gender bended, which will lead them confused and not knowing how to be or act in society as an adult. Will they want to change their sex to a woman as they grow up? Will they like other men when they adults? No, maybe, but if so it has nothing to do with how they are raised or external influences in their environment.
    This image of the director of J.Crew and her son playing with his neon pink nail polish got blown out of proportion. We see all these different political news stations criticizing it. Some calling it, “ crossing a line” and “blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children.” All we can ask ourselves is if this was the most outrageous thing that happened during the week that there was nothing else to talk about? Jon Stewart said it best, “ Everybody gets bored. You’ll do anything to fill the time. And if you take them to a face painting booth it doesn’t make them cats or cat lovers or Rum Tum Tuggers, not that there is anything wrong with that.” Sexuality and gender expression has nothing to do with hobbies you like or what you like to do for fun. No wonder why boys say cooties at feminine things they are taught so young that these things are bad and for them to not play with certain gendered-female items, so as they grow up they are forced to be concealed in this box and to be this one type of masculinity. One of the big things that are being taught to young boys is “boy’s don’t cry” and we could see this in the Rain God part 1 as Miguel Grande ignores his son’s weakness, although Miguel chico is severely ill, due to an attempt to emphasize the importance of strength and masculinity his father scolds him anytime he complains of pain. The message “boy’s don’t cry” is not only in this book, it is still around today and heard often. It is an unfortunate message to society saying that is only appropriate for one gender, the females to cry. Acting as if crying is only for women. The fact is that men just like women are people too. People with real feelings that sometimes feel sad, anxious, scared and frustrated. To make a male feel less of a man because he cries now that is something outrageous.

    • bethanita says:

      You bring up a lot of great points, Lauren. It’s so interesting that people make such a fuss about things that might “make people gay” when we don’t even have a real understanding of what causes homosexuality. Furthermore, many sexuality scholars agree that people aren’t simply gay or straight, but that all people exist on a sort of sexuality continuum and most people are at least a little bit bisexual. It’s a shame that, as you point out, “the panic is all about if you’re NOT perpetuating masculine and feminine stereotypes to your growing child” instead of being open and affirming with your child, no matter what their identity and preferences are.

    • Julissa Antigua says:

      I totally agree with you on the points you brought up, specially that playing with dolls does don’t exactly translate to a child growing up to be gay. In fact I believe that every child goes through a period of wonder where they figure out on their own what things are masculine/ feminine and okay with them or not. The over involvement of the parents and their oppositions on the matter only makes the child wonder more and come back to those things they were not allowed to figure out on their own later on in life. Not saying that parents shouldn’t get involved with their child’s sexuality at all, but it is not okay to tell your child things such as “boys don’t cry”. Suppressing emotions is never a good idea and will turn out badly more times than not (anger, stress, etc).

  3. JessicaRaugitinane says:

    The J. Crew advertisement is seen as “an attack on masculinity”. The boy with pink toenails is somehow endangered in becoming gay or transgendered, or simply just not a man. Interestingly, many thought the boy was more in psychological danger rather than physical. He would need psychotherapy in order to restructure his mind on what it means to be a man. This demonstrates that masculinity is a mentality filled with gender roles and distinctions mentally constructed by society.

    This controversy relates to Part 1 of “The Rain God” by Arturo Islas since Miguel Grande believes that Maria is attacking Miguel Chico’s masculinity at a young age. Maria bought Miguel Chico paper doll books, then they would spend time together cutting the dolls out and dressing them. Miguel Grande saw this and scolded Maria since he did not want his son to be “brought up like a girl.” (15) Also, Maria made Miguel Chico a skirt and he would wear it and dance to the jitterbug music on the radio. Again, Miguel Grande accused Maria of trying to turn his son into a “joto” or queer. Ultimately, Miguel Grande tries to preserve Miguel Chico’s mind. If his son is exposed at a young age to feminine ways, Miguel Grande believes he will then grow up to be feminine as well.

    This attack on masculinity parallels the issue of religion as well. The Angel family are devout Roman Catholics and do not approve of Maria sharing stories or beliefs of her Seventh Day Adventist religion with Miguel Chico since he may be brainwashed to grow up into something other than a Roman Catholic. In essence, it all comes down to preserving the minds of the youth; only exposing them to certain ways of living and thinking in the hopes that they will grow up to live by those ways.

    Yet, these fears of the youth’s minds being tainted all stem from societal constructs and expectations. If the norm or majority of society accepted homosexuals, transgenders, or bisexuals, as equals then I do not think that the J. Crew ad or Miguel Chico’s upbringing would be seen as attacks on masculinity. For instance, Miguel Grande loves his homosexual brother, Felix, but since society does not approve of this lifestyle Miguel Grande does not openly approve of it either. Ultimately, I think Miguel Grande’s persistence to preserve his son’s masculinity stems from his desire to protect him from society and to make sure he easily passes through life as a respected man.

  4. Lima James says:

    In this video, they show a clip of a man saying “Gender distinctions have a place in society. It’s an attack on masculinity”. I feel that this notion is greatly emphasized in out society as well as in part 1 of The Rain Gods. It’s a matter of stereotypes and norms that the society believes and are not willing to let go of that is causing such an explosion with this image of a boy with pink toe nails. I feel that the reason for this image to be talked about is because the society is not ready accept the changes that are occurring in the current world. The current era does not have the same beliefs as did people back 20-30 years ago. It’s a new era, new generation, and things are chaining constantly. People are freely expressing themselves more and more. Because the society has such norms that they go by, these kinds of images seem outrageous. But currently, there are many states that allow gay marriage and accept homosexuality so it shouldn’t be a surprise that this image is promoting such an idea IF that is what it is trying to do. But as the daily show perceives it, it’s just an image of a mother and son bonding or playing. Not everyone will take it the wrong way. Yes, a lot of what children learn, like, and become are from how they grew up and what their parents taught them, but that doesn’t mean anyone should be blamed. If, like the image, a boy likes the color neon pink, then thats his like. It’s not like the parents are forcing the child to like the color pick and dressing him up.

    There are great examples of such a scenario in The Rain Gods. When Miguel Chico plays with dolls. His dad yells at the mother and grandmother for letting him do this, because he doesn’t want his son to have any aspect of feminism. He wants his son to grow up masculine. He doesn’t want his son to have the wrong idea of ‘what he should be’. His father’s idea definitely show a belief in the social norm, as did many of the commentaries received for this video. The people of our society are wired in such a way to assume things such as “Oh he’s gay or she’s lesbian” as soon as they see even the smallest hint of behavior difference or dressing. People are led to think this way because of the norms that society has drilled into our heads, what we hear amongst our friends, television, and daily entertainment. This is also shown in The Rain Gods, when it says that some of Miguel Chicos family members are suspicious about his sexuality because he lives so far away and because of the lack of manliness that he has. Especially, when he gets emotional or cries and tries to show affection, his father says “what are you doing, men don’t cry”. As the presentations from class talked about, the norm is even more emphasized in a Hispanic background because of the strong norms they have on what a woman should do and what a man should do. The whole notion of men should be macho, powerful, sexual, and dominant. Whereas, the woman is supposed to be homely, nurturing the children, and taking care of house needs.

  5. Throughout the first half of the book we are constantly reminded that Miguel Grande is physically masculine and embodies many of the stereotypes that we have previously discussed (he is strong, the provider, sexual, etc). Miguel Grande put so much emphasis on raising Miguel Chico to be physically strong and not show emotion because he thought that sexuality is something that can be molded through development. Dr. Jack Drescher proves that sexuality cannot be molded by a persons’ upbringing nor is it a choice.
    In the case with the painted toenails, I agree that the child may have just wanted to spend more time with his mother. This immediately reminded me of the scene where Miguel Chico dresses up in dresses and dances for his mother and his Maria. I think that the scolding that Miguel Chico received after Miguel Grande caught him was a sort of wake up call and made him feel a sense of confusion. I think that the negative implications associated with anything outside of the stereotypical Latino male along with his family’s values were a major factor in Miguel Chico packing and going so far away to pursue his academic endeavors. This goes along with what we mentioned in class, that Miguel Chico would distance himself before anyone could reject him for his sexuality.

    • JessicaRaugitinane says:

      I think you highlighted a big issue as to why our nation and society is homophobic. Many believe that “sexuality is something that can be molded through development.” Thus, people assume that sexuality is a choice and those who “choose” to be homosexual, bisexual, or transgendered should be deprived of freedoms and rights. However, I do not think anyone would choose to live a life of ridicule and fear. Personally, I believe sexual orientation to be a biological trait, something that you are just born with or innate to. Yet, I think our society is a very “hands-on” community, in which we believe that we are responsible for all of our actions. Therefore, nothing is just given to us. We had to have done something in order for us to be a certain way. For example, parents take pride in their parenting skills if their son or daughter turns out to be a great athlete or scholar. The parents had to have done something that caused their child’s success. With that said, Miguel Grande’s attempts to prevent his son in becoming a girl or queer stems from this idea that people can be “molded”. Ultimately, Miguel Grande does not want to be held accountable for his son’s possible homosexuality.

    • Julissa Antigua says:

      That is a great point! I believe my post was approaching the same idea that a child’s upbringing does not necessarily define his or her sexuality in the future. Fun Fact: When me and my brother were younger my mother dressed him as a woman for Halloween and she dressed me as a man. That event did not guide my sexuality towards masculine traits neither did it affect my brother in such a way that his sexuality was changed.

  6. alease810 says:

    As many people have already mentioned, Miguel Grande fits very well into our previously described stereotype of masculinity. He is strong, confident, and powerful. He clearly identifies with these traits and has decided this defines his own self image as a male. For this reason he is horrified by Maria’s introduction of paper dolls, dancing and dresses to Miguel Chico.He demands Maria to never repeat this behavior as it clashes with his aspiration to have a son sharing his own masculinity. He wants Miguel Chico to follow in his footsteps in this part of his identity along with his religion. Both of Miguel Chico’s parents are opposed to Maria’s religion and want to ensure that she doesn’t teach him her beliefs. In my opinion there seems to be a difference between religion preferences and types of activities engaged in during play time. I also think Juanita was right to say something about Maria trying to convert Miguel and also that she was okay with Maria’s activity choices. Its clear that teaching someone ‘truth’ about religion is more life changing than playing games that are non traditional for boys.

    Juanita is like Jcrew executive that was playing with her son. It doesn’t matter what the child is doing as long as he is having fun and behaving. Its a stretch to think that by engaging in non traditional activities you are changing the sexuality of a child. However it is clear when you are teaching a religion to a child that will make a change in their beliefs.

    • Edward Ortega says:

      I agree with your concept of nontraditional fun versus religious faith. Personally, I believe that religion holds more power than the activities that one engages in, in terms of human development. Religion introduces many fundamental standards of behavior and values that one should practice daily and it creates a rigid paradigm in which to view the world through. The activities a person engages in, such as child play, also influences a person’s character, but not to the extreme where it can alter one’s gender identity.

      Although they can be mutually exclusive, these concepts simultaneously influence a person’s character development. Religion, more or less, creates a foundation, which in turn will have a hold upon the activities that one would even consider associating themselves with. For instance, understanding the concept “thou shall not steal” may influence a person’s decision on whether they should take something that does not belong to them or that they have yet to pay for. With that said, I believe that Juanita was practical in her intervention.

  7. bethanita says:

    Miguel Grande’s vision of masculinity caused Miguel Chico a lot of damage as he was growing up. This is especially true when Juanita wants to bring Miguel Chico to the doctor to prevent him from getting polio. Miguel Grande refuses to let Miguel go to the doctor; he thinks Miguel Chico is making up his complaints to get out of school and that Juanita is spoiling him. But because Miguel Chico did not go to the doctor, he gets so sick that Juanita worries he will die. Miguel Chico is left walking with a limp for the rest of his life because of Miguel Grande’s macho ideas. In this case, Miguel Grande’s desire to ‘make a man’ out of Miguel Chico literally damages Miguel Chico’s health and body. Miguel Grande then goes on to cause even more damage; although he realizes he was wrong and never forgives himself for causing Miguel Chico’s illness, he is so prideful that he can never bring himself to apologize to Juanita or Miguel Chico, or to admit his regret. This causes more damage to the already-problematic relationship between Miguel Grande and his son. Thus, in one incident, Miguel Grande’s macho view of the world directly damaged Miguel Chico both physically and emotionally.

    This same attitude later causes even more damage to Miguel Chico’s health. The narrator explains that Miguel Grande has always been healthy, so he disregards other people’s illness. When Miguel Chico would experience intestinal cramps Miguel Grande had no sympathy and basically insisted that Miguel Chico get over it. Knowing that his father had this attitude, Miguel Chico stopped complaining and just did his best to endure the pain when it came. He never comments to anyone that there was blood in his stool. It is probably exactly this disregard for Miguel Chico’s pain that eventually causes his intestinal problems to precipitate into a much more serious problem, resulting in his need to get surgery and live through the rest of his life with a bag attached to his side. Once again, Miguel Grande’s macho disregard for his son’s pain has quite literally caused Miguel Chico physical damage.

  8. arussell11 says:

    The whole debate in modern day society about definitions of masculinity and femininity are disgusting. By no means should these two words be traced back to gender. Very simply put. This picture and story line of a male child that likes pink nail polish has nothing to do with his sexual orientation because at the end of the day, that is not his choice. No one chooses to make their life more difficult and ostracize themselves by being a minority.

    The issues of sexual orientation are not what this ad should be about. Undoubtedly, this shows the strength of a mother stand up against the harsh stereotypes that our society has spoon fed us our entire lives. If we think about the stereotypes that we continue, we are just as much to blame for their existence. Think simply of the colors pink and blue. There was once a study done at a university to show the gender differences that people believe. There was a toddler that was dressed in blue, and sat in a room being monitored by scientists. The scientists described the toddler as strong, independent, and a risk taker. The same toddler was then dressed in pink clothing where the characteristics changed to emotional, caring and dependent. Think about this as it pertains to this ad… Why is it looked down upon to be expressive with your likes even if they don’t fit under the societal norms? Are these stereotypes and stigmas more prevalent in minority groups such as Latinos for fear of their children becoming a minority within a minority?

    • bethanita says:

      The study of the toddler you mentioned is so interesting. It really is amazing how much baggage people–even people conducting studies, which are supposed to be unbiased–bring with them everywhere. People criticize gender norms and go on and on about acceptance and equality, but at the end of the day they still perpetuate the idea that boys shouldn’t cry and that all women should be emotional and nurturing. Even through everyday slang ideas like this are perpetuated, like the language we discussed after watching freak; a boy who is perceived as not being manly enough is called a “pussy,” a “bitch,” a “faggot,” or any number of terms that are meant to be offensive by suggesting that the man is feminine, and implicitly saying that women are inferior and somehow flawed. People use terms like these all the time, not even considering the fact that in doing so they are perpetuating our society’s absurd gender norms.

  9. Elizabeth L Fletcher says:

    If this woman in the picture was playing with her daughter, there would be no controversy. The problem is that in society today we have made such a big deal out of boys acting like girls and doing “girly” things because they might grow up to be gay or transgendered etc. I think this concept is ridiculous because there are plenty of children who may act macho and do appropriate boy activities all during their childhood and still grow up to be more feminine than masculine. The boy in the picture is young and appears to be very happy, so why does it need to be over analyzed and picked apart to portray him and his mother in a negative way?

    The pink toe nail polish can be related to “The Rain God” because it is very similar to Miguel Grande not allowing Miguel Chico to do anything that he did not feel was “manly” and “macho” such as dressing up. He is always trying to emphasize the importance of masculinity and make sure that his son understands and values the same life principles as he does. Clearly Miguel Grande is the perfect picture of what we discussed as a typical Latino male because he has all of the qualities that were mentioned both in class and in the readings. I do recognize that if this picture had been taken many years ago, the generational differences would have had an impact on people’s thoughts because in today’s society we are much more accepting of girls and boys being individuals rather than gender stereotyping them, therefore this type of behavior probably would not have been allowed by Miguel Grande and his family but also in other families. I am surprised that even though we have come so far as a society and accept differences and individuality, there are still so many people who would not smile at seeing this photo of a son and his mother. I also relate it to Miguel Chico spending time with his mother and Miguel Grande constantly trying to turn his son into the man he wants him to be.

    • Rachel Korb says:

      Just a personal story I figured I would add to this discussion. I have a younger brother and when we were younger he would always want to get a “pedicure” whenever I did my nails. He frequently painted his toenails and no one in my family really had too much of a problem with it, because he really enjoyed himself. On the other hand, if he had a karate class coming up and my mom knew that he would be barefoot, she always made him put on clear nail polish. She did not want others to see him breaking gender stereotypes. Perhaps she feared that he would be stigmatized and called bad names because he was challenging typical ideas of sexuality.

  10. Jean-Claude Nicolas Jr. says:

    I have thus far enjoyed the book. The arthor challenges my viewpoints on manhood and masculinity. Every boy, at some early point in his life begins to see the entire masuline continuum and tries to figure out where on this continuum he would like to be. Would the aggresive, macho personality or the submissive, almost effeminite one work for him. That decision is largely affected by family, media and peers. The arthor made me reexamine the reasons why i chose to be at the level of masculinity I am at currently.

    The second decision i had to revisit was why i allowed my sons to be at the point of the continuum they are at. This book speaks to the up and coming generation as well as the middle aged parents; and rightly so. Sexuality doesnt stop at a certain age. A side thought, I have wondered what was the cause of death for Mr. Islas? Was it a result of the homosexual lifestyle he chose to live or some other natural cause? His autobiography is left vague, I believe on purpose

    • I agree with the point you made half way down your second paragraph “Sexuality doesnt stop at a certain age”. It is very true, because children grow up and they learn about themselves and about what they see around them. If they find something they can relate to then they stick to it and most likely imitate it, but it is our duty to set an example. If a boy grows up relating best with feminine things then so be it, that is how he feels more comfortable. If a boy grows up feeling best around masculine things, then so be it. But with what you said, I just want to say that if the boy or girl is Gay, most likely they will always be.

      • franciscotorres01 says:

        I like that Mr. Islas death is actually left up in the air. If this book is meant to question masculinity or at put a different perspective on it then leaving the death open is just another thing to think about. Did he die because of his sexual relations, could it been the act of hiding his relations that hurt him, could it have been people killed him because of his sexual relation? This leaves so many questions and I love it because of them.

  11. A color shouldn’t categorize a person. I thought it was very supportive of her as a parent to go along with what her child’s choice of color was. It is not the child’s fault that he likes pink, we find it wrong because our society puts these rules down of color categorization. Wrong of us to think the boy will grow up to be gay, and if he does so what? Why are parents going against their children’s taste in color or style? Children grow up with innocent minds, they are not yet aware of our society’s brainwash and if a little boy finds pink appealing then accept it.

    The Rain God was a story that I think most families who come from hispanic background can relate to. My grandmother may she rest in peace, had the same mentality. One of my aunt’s sons came out to be Gay, but the secret remained within our family for the sake of my aunt’s reputation. So sad to feel shame, but in most hispanic households families are tight and stick together, and if one member swerves out of the norm then the whole family is affected. Soon my aunt learned to accept her son, but she still felt that her families reputation was affected and the secret was out. They even went to the extent of moving away to another state.

    • bethanita says:

      I agree that it was supportive of her to go with her son’s color choice. I think that EVERYONE should be celebrating her for being supportive instead of condemning her for it, but it seems our society is just too homophobic for that. Like you said, even if he did turn out to be gay (which, of course, would have no connection to the fact that his mother encouraged him to wear pink nail polish), what would be so bad about that? It’s also interesting what you said about families feeling so affected by the sexual orientation of their children. I wonder if this fear is part of why they are not supportive of homosexuality; because they believe it will reflect poorly on them as parents, as it did for Jenna Lyons in some people’s eyes.

  12. Rachel Korb says:

    In Arturo Islas’ “The Rain God”, Miguel Grande hires Maria to help care for his child while he is away at work. Sometimes Maria allows Miguel Chico do things that are typically reserved for girls, such as playing with dolls. When Miguel Grande returns home one day to see his son engaging in what is considered to be feminine activities, he becomes angry. He makes Miguel Chico stop playing in such a manner and makes him apologize. Miguel Chico does not understand what he did wrong because Maria and his mother had just been encouraging and enjoying such behavior. Miguel Grande, the symbol of machismo in the story is the one that discourages the behavior. He is clearly uncomfortable with his own son coming so close to crossing gender boundaries. The women however seem to be more comfortable with it. Men seem to be the ones that find it more important to reinforce gender stereotypes.
    This is reflected in the image of the woman holding her son’s painted toenails. A boy wearing bright pink nail polish is clearly atypical according to gender stereotypes. However, like Maria, she is laughing and enjoying the rebellion. However, this makes me question whether or not the boys father would enjoy this sort of behavior as much. In my head, I try to imagine the father coming home to this scene and laughing along with his family. This seems very unlikely. It is easier to picture the father becoming angry, telling the boy to remove the polish, and reprimanding the mother for allowing the boy to wear the nail polish in the first place. This imaginary scene in my head is based on my opinion that men are the ones that police gender stereotypes. They become more upset to see boys doing things that are considered feminine because they do not want their sons to be homosexual.

  13. Julissa Antigua says:

    The way a child is raised has a great impact on the future behavior of that child. In the picture above we see a young boy and his mother having a fun time. At a closer glance we’d begin to notice the small bottle of nail polish and the fact that the young boys toes are painted pink. Society has lead us to stick a gender to many things such as colors and clothing. And because this theme has been so constant for many years it is believed to be okay. Just because a child likes the color pink or blue doesn’t mean that he or she will develop traits of the opposite sex. What about the child’s happiness? A parent can only make his child’s decisions for so long. Eventually, he or she will do what ever he or she pleases and there will be little the parents could do about it at that point. In my opinion the more you push your children towards something the more they will want to do the opposite. I personally don’t think the woman in the picture is doing a bad job as a mother and there is very little to judge on. For all we know they could both be laughing because they think pink is an ugly color. At least the boy is happy which should always be important.

    In part one of The Rain God Miguel Grande is also faced with the challenge of raising his children correctly. Miguel Grande represents most aspects of masculinity to a T. He has a very manly job, he is a cop. As part of his job he already uses violence and force to express leadership and demand attention and obedience. Miguel Grande uses the same strategy at home while raising his children. Of course affection was not natural for Miguel Grande to show. When Miguel Grande caught his son Miguel Chico playing with dolls he was very angry with him. In his eyes men should not play with dolls they should do other things that boys do such as playing in the dirt for example.
    As I mentioned before the more you tell a child not to do something the more they will desire to do it. In the end, although Miguel Chico was not allowed to play with dolls he later developed feminine traits and declare himself a gay man. Miguel Grande’s early actions against his son’s sexuality did not in fact reverse the outcome but it might have encouraged it instead.

  14. dipali1991 says:

    I think that this controversy is uncalled for and unnecessary. I do agree with the fact that the way a child is raised plays a key role in the type of person the child grows up to be, but I do not agree with the way a child is raised has the power to change the sexually orientation of the child. Just because a mother paints the fingernails of her child pink, does not main he will grow up to be “gay” or dress like a girl. I think that the mother painted the fingernails of her child pink out of fun, without thinking twice, but it was blown way out of proportion.
    I feel that a lot of people are too focused on raising their kids in a way that is acceptable by society and boys are faced with too much pressure to be “masculine” and they thrive to have this identity for the rest of their lives. Parents play into this obsession of these stereotypes and look down upon anything that does not fit into certain categories. That is why I feel as if the mother who painted the fingernails of her child pink was attacked and looked down upon. I am proud of her for NOT going with the society ideal and doing what she wanted to do with her own child.
    This controversy goes along with the theme in “Rain God” because the main theme in this book is masculinity and Miguel Grande is so focused on raising his child in a way that is “right”. He puts so much pressure on his child to be “a man” which he should not have done.

  15. Carlos Perez says:

    To me this first part was huge on the issue of Miguel Chico and the conflict he faced growing up with an identity crisis. Although playing with dolls should not really be considered a confusion as it would irresponsible to classify that way the influence of his dad contribute his confusion. Although his mom painted his nails pink this causes a confusion for the child when they encounter people who criticize them. Miguel Grande plays a big role in his son’s confusion by attempting to change him and mold him. I think Miguel Grande innocently didn’t think he was hurting his child by doing what he was doing. To him he was attempting to help his son be “normal”.

  16. Brimar Guerrero says:

    The amount of emphasis our society places amongst stereotypical gender roles bobbles my mind; in particular the value that is placed amongst hyper-masculinity. The short viedo-clip presented above is a perfect example of this. The media went bonanza once the image of a 5 year old boy wearing hot pink nail polish on his toes surfaced on the cover of J Crews advertising. Reporters treated the situation as if it involved incest or some sort of child abuse; they even went as far as saying “its propaganda advertising transgendered children”. I found it completely absurd and offensive that reporters would make such remark.

    I don’t understand what the issue with the picture. To me it seems like the photo portrays a happy 5yr old boy enjoying his life; he does not seem to be bothered by the fact that the nail polish is viewed as a “feminine” thing. I think it is beautiful how children are so carefree and how they don’t place mcuh emphasis on societal rules. I think adults should learn a thing or two about this concept. How is it that such an innocent act caused so much criticism throughout society?
    This video represents some of the topics that we have discussed throughout this course because it demonstrates how acting like the opposite sex is frowned upon in our society. The idea that boys from a young age should be taught how to be “tough, dominant, and insensitive” is something that “should” be the norm.

  17. SPRING 2013 POSTS & COMMENTS

  18. The Rain God: Pg. 1-50 (February 5th Reading)

    -Although I think that Maria’s religious views were extreme, I appreciate the way in which she cares for Miguelito. She shows him love and tenderness, and lets him embrace being an innocent little boy. This is to say, she does not bias him to one gender expression or another. The scene that explains this is when Miguelito and Maria were cutting out paper dolls and dressing them up. This should be a seemingly neutral activity, however it becomes extremely gendered when they are “discovered” by Miguel Grande. Miguel Grande unfortunately scolds Maria and sees this activity as “raising Miguelito as a girl.” Miguel Grande also lets slip the slur “joto” which is a derogatory word which means “gay” or “queer”. I frowned at this.

    – Chapter two captured my attention much more quickly than chapter one, for I loved reading about the juicy ins-and-outs of Juanita and Nina’s family history. I loved learning about how their mother, father, aunts, and children all fit into the grand scheme of things.

    Since the story is written in 3rd person, I am still not sure who is telling the story, but whoever it is seems to know the family underpinnings very well.

    I felt real pain when reading about the demise of Tony, Nina’s only son. QUESTION: Is it implied that Tony caused his own soul to depart? I wasn’t sure, and I hoped that it was an accident…but Juanita made the whole Nina-Tony dynamic out to be one that was incredibly stressful, taxing, and authoritarian (much like their own father’s behavior). So, I feel that the audience is somewhat led in the direction to infer that Tony may have taken his own life in the end.
    It’s all very tragic. But very provocative and fascinating.

    • Amber Jones says:

      I definitely agree with you about Maria allowing him to be an innocent boy. I feel like Miguel Chico had such an immense pressure from his father to be a man at a tender age. Maria allow Miguel Chico to just be a child without having to worry about image. Her willingness to expose him to different things such as paper dolls gave him the notion of gender fluidity. But we see how Maria’s actions are in vain when Miguel Grande scolds her for letting his child play with such a thing.

    • Becky Taylor says:

      I also stopped at the mention of “joto” and the associated shame and negativity that went along with it. One aspect of the first reading of The Rain God that surprised me was that Miguel Chico’s mother mentioned the skirts Maria made for him and how he danced to music from the radio years later, in correspondences between adults. This captured the different ways in which Miguel’s parents conceived of his “gender-non-conforming” behavior: as harmless or as threatening to his entire person.

  19. Brittany Demers says:

    The most obvious display of masculinity so far was when Miguel Chico was caught playing with paper dolls. His father scolds him and he does not understand why. We discussed in class on Thursday that the first place where we learn masculinity or femininity is in the home, from our mothers and fathers telling us what girls and boys are supposed to do. Miguel Chico displays the innocence that children posses in relation to the gender roles that society defines. As children, we don’t know what boys and girls do but we end up learning it from someone or somewhere. There are also women working on household chores for Miguel Grande and Juanita, and a woman named Maria taking care of Miguel Chico. This is another example of where Miguel Chico could learn gender stereotypes in the home. The women in his home are there to do chores and take care of children. Miguel Grande goes to work every day and is the primary breadwinner.

    Respect for the dead is very important in Latino culture and this was a big theme within the first 50 pages. From very young age Miguel Chico was subjected to death. His family made trips to the cemetery to pay their respects and when he saw them cry he again did not understand. I think that the grieving process is also something that children learn from others. When Miguel Chico saw his family crying, he thought he should be doing the same. Masculinity also played a role in the deaths so far. For example, when Tony tragically died, Ernesto was not crying. I feel that he was trying to remain strong because that is what men are expected to do. When Maria died, Miguel Chico did not express much emotion; his mother even said that he was cold about it. For this example, Miguel Chico says he acted that way because he is sick of death, but I wonder if he acts like this because he had other males in his family act emotionless during death while growing up.

    • Skylar Smith says:

      I agree with how one of the bigger parts of masculinity being shown is when he scolds Miguel Chico for playing with dolls. An important aspect that I would like to bring to the table is how incredible it is that Miguel Chico has the knowledge and reasoning to question why it is wrong. A lot of children will agree with their fathers because they are their “father figure,” but in this case he thinks and questions what is so wrong about playing with dolls. All of the confusion that takes place in the household puts a lot of confusion in to his head but I also believe it is providing him with ample amounts of information, making him a very intelligent child.

    • Desiree W. says:

      I strongly agree with what Brittany is saying. My mother always taught me that when you see someone act or behave in a certain manner its often because that is a trait that is learned from the home. In some respects I agree with my mother’s statement, its almost the same concept of monkey see monkey do. If I see my mom cook, clean and sow, chances are because I am conditioned to think this way, I will identify myself with her because we are of the same sex and I want to imitate what she does. Our society also doesn’t allow much room for children to explore their gender and make decisions for themselves. Instead they are forced to learn up to standards.

  20. Jesse Drinks says:

    So far in the story you see the influence on Miguel by his family. We talked in class about how masculinity is learned at home and the story shows the same idea. I find it interesting how his family sends him mixed ideas of how to act. Miguel’s father is worried about Miguel acting in masculine ways. You see him yell at Miguel when he is playing with dolls. On the other hand, Miguel’s mother and Maria encourage him to play with dolls and even allow him to dance around in a skirt. I feel like Miguel is in a weird situation because he has no idea why he keeps getting into trouble when he plays with dolls. Miguel’s father wants him to act masculine but doesn’t show him. It doesn’t help that he is encouraged to play with dolls around the women of the house. Also Miguel is constantly left with the women of the house. He rarely sees how his father and other men act and instead he has most of his interactions with women. At one point in the story Miguel is sitting with Maria watching her comb her hair and at another he is watching Maria braid her hair. I feel like the contrast of influence on Miguel is going to lead to some future confusion on how he should act.

    Early on in the book I keep having my attention brought to Miguel’s immaturity. When he was a child he told on Maria about her taking him to church and got her laid off for a few weeks. When Maria returned she was upset with Miguel and instead of understanding what he did he tried to talk about religion with her. He knew what she was not allowed to talk with him about it but he tried and got mad when she refused to answer. After that he began to hate her and on Maria’s last day working he wasn’t even there to say goodbye. Later on in the chapter Miguel received the letter from Maria and even though he meant to respond he put it off and eventually forgot. Unfortunately for him Maria died before he ever got the chance to respond to her letter. Lastly, after Maria died Miguel has a conversation with his mother about what had happened. He then tells his mother he is going to look for peach trees which I thought was a nice gesture since it was sort of an inside joke/story between him and Maria but just like the letter he never got around to it.

    • Skylar Smith says:

      I completely agree with how you state how Miguel Grande does not show him how to be “masculine.” He only tells him what not to do and with so many opinions flying around the household he is constantly left confused. He does not seem to have a lot of male figures in these first 50 pages that help him shape in to masculinity. Rather, he has women constantly around him so he becomes interested in what they are doing (i.e. combing hair, etc.) and enjoys playing with dolls because they bought them for him to play with. All of this definitely puts a lot of confusion in to his head and I am very interested to see where all of this confusion takes him throughout the book.

  21. Sabryne Vidal says:

    In the presentation given in class, there was a question asked about whether or not we believed that masculinity was in some way learned or promoted within the home. In regards to this question, I certainly do think that if one were to grow up in a house with multiple parental influences just like Miguel Chico did as a young boy, that it will have a tremendous amount of influence on his or her social development; especially that of gender roles. With that in mind, the home is where one learns the norms- or rather, what is feminine from what is masculine. I thought that masculinity was very well represented when Miguel Grande became infuriated after finding Miguel Chico playing with the paper dolls Maria had given to him. In Miguel Grande saying “I don’t want my son brought up like a girl..”, is already establishing the differences between both genders and the roles associated with each(Islas 15). This is just one way that Miguel Chico is exposed to the gender stereotypes. Then, Miguel Chico is forced to apologize to his father but the confusion he expresses in having to do so represents a child’s untarnished perception before parental interference, which is essentially gender neutral. This just goes to show how a child is constantly “attacked” by the gender norms, and how they basically have to conform to what parental figures find socially acceptable under the conventional paradigm.
    Another great example of how masculinity goes “unmarked” is when Nina, Miguel Chico’s aunt refers back to one of her childhood memories in which she attempts to beat her father in her sister’s defense (Islas 43). She becomes afraid of his silence and expects to be punished for her actions, even though he does nothing about it (Islas 43). I believe this is a form of “unmarked’ masculinity in terms of gender because the fear that he instills onto Nina is a punishment in itself. The fear of being hit, or attacked, of being victimized basically, is something she had to endure throughout this “inactive” period. Nothing was said or done, but there is still some kind of power that he has over her because at any moment he’d be able to take control, and make that move and she’d be completely caught off guard. The fear of “not knowing” was what he inflicted onto his daughter- and in this way he has all superiority as man of the house over Nina. This just elaborates a little further on the topic of masculinity, if a child is exposed to this kind of masculine cleverness- he is more susceptible to developing that masculine dominant mentality of having superiority over his partner and will make it his goal to produce that fear within her to keep her submissive and vulnerable just like Nina was throughout her father’s silent period.
    I just thought that these were some good examples of how masculinity is developed under multiple influences within a home. Overall, I really enjoy the book- great depiction of Latin machismo and culture!
    ~Sabryne Vidal 2/4/2013

  22. Desiree W. says:

    I like this story already because its always interesting to see how other cultures deal with the issues of sex, parenting, religion, and overall the social structure of the household. I come from a pentecostal background but I went to a Catholic private school for a little while, so I do recognize some of the beliefs and constructs in the story line. People often don’t realize how much the religion we practice plays such a large role in our own lifestyle and home life. The Bible teaches that the man is to be the head of the household and the woman to be the support to his movements and the she is made from his rib to take her place at his side. We can kind of see that here, I get a very heavy influence of male dominance and respect for all male figures in the household, while the women tend to take a more passive side, this to me is because of the heavy religious background.
    Gendered roles are not only set by the religion you practice but also what you see at home. We have been socialized for years to follow in the foot steps of the role model whose biological sex we share in common and as soon as something goes against those social norms its highly unlikely that there won’t be an uproar to try and correct these “issues.” We see a great example of this when Miguel plays with “girl toys” as apposed to “boy toys,” which causes a great deal of confusion and frustration because his mother allows him to play dress up in girls clothing and make paper dolls and ply with them. While on the other hand his father is angered by the sight of it. The issue is if while parenting a family so chooses to make it a gender free/ gender neutral area for the child to grow up in they need to make sure they are on the same page. If not you could potentially send the child into a future identity crisis. In most cases little boys are socialized to “be like daddy” and the intimate the actions of their father, but what do we do when that figure is not there? Miguel was constantly left to be around his mother, which isn’t a bad thing but at the same time his mother needed to realize that her involvement in his upbringing could potentially be damaging. This constant back and forth between his mother’s and father’s parenting created huge differences, that normally because of the society we live in today would not have existed today since we try to paint things so black and white (or pink and blue).

  23. Amber Jones says:

    Many already stated evident signs of masculinity within the book, but I would like to analyze these signs even further. We first see how Maria is scolded for allowing Miguelito for playing with paper dolls, “ Miguel Grande would scold Maria for allowing his son to play with dolls” (Islas, 15). Although many would say that Maria was a bit over the extreme with her religious views she was surely a great caretaker of Miguelito; she allowed him to be himself and to explore. I believe many times parents are afraid to allow their children to explore the world because they are so fixated that there is only one box that one should fit inside. Exploration is healthy and should be encouraged rather than halted. This event now made him believe that boys are not allowed to play with dolls because it is not manly enough. But what made this event even more impactful is when his father made him promise he will never do it again. By Miguel Grande asking his son to promise that he will never play with dolls brings the incident to another level. Miguelito could tell that this displeased his father and in an effort to please his father he made this promised. I honestly believe that fathers do not realize the impact they have on their own sons; whatever they say, how they act are all taken into account by their sons who admire and inspire to be like them. So when Miguelito realized his father’s reaction he then truly understood that he would not partake in that activity again.
    We also see in the very beginning how Miguelito constantly had his fathers’ voice in the back of his head. At a very tender age when he use to visit the cemetery on the Day of the Dead he encountered a flower man who frightened him and made him most of the time desire to cry in his presence, but due to his fathers teachings he refrained from doing so. “ He felt like crying and running away, but his father had told him to be a man and protect his mother from the dead” (Islas 10). Even at a young age Miguelito was being trained to act like a man when he was only a boy. A male child should not have the pressure to hold in emotions because it can be very damaging to their mental state of mind. In a sense it robs boys of emotions, it makes them feel if they express themselves in crying that they are less than a man. We see in Rain God how Miguelito does not cry when his friend dies. When he looks at him in the casket he does not let one tear drop; I believe this occurred because his father desensitized him. Even if he tried to cry I believe no tears would appear because he was accustomed to holding back emotions. I have seen this notion of acting like a man at a young age in my own family. My mother has been telling my little brother since he was about seven years old that he is the man of the house. By obtaining this title comes the pressure of being a man when he is only a boy himself. This notion of manhood in boyhood forces children to grow up fast.

  24. Becky Taylor says:

    The first section of The Rain God, A Desert Tale by Arturo Islas, presents an important perspective of Latino masculinities as they relate to family, age, and national politics. The importance of family to Latino masculinities became evident early in class, as many students reported “family oriented” or simply “family” as stereotypical characteristics of Latino men. The Rain God opens with an account of the book’s protagonist, Miguel Angel, and his grandmother Mama Chona. The importance of their relationship is conveyed through an image that highlights the difference in age between the two characters, and the similarities that exist despite this difference due to the politics of their birth nation: “A photograph of Mama Chona and her grandson Miguel Angel … hovers above his head on the study wall … It was taken in the early years of World War II by an old Mexican photographer … they are looking straight ahead, intensely preoccupied … Because of the look on his face, the child seems as old as the woman. The camera has captured them in flight from this world to the next” (Islas 3-4). The relationship Miguel has with Mama Chona sets the stage for relationships he will have later in life with other women, the workings of which help to determine his particular masculinity.
    Religion also plays a large role in the opening section of The Rain God. The ways in which people relate to each other are partially determined by religious considerations, as in the case of Mama Chona’s family: “Miguel Chico knew that Mama Chona’s family held contradictory feelings toward him. Because he was still not married … they suspected that he … belonged on the list of sinners. Still, they were proud of his academic achievements” (4). This quote reveals the complicated nature of the relationship between religion and masculinity, which depends on such factors as marital status, personal actions, and intellectual work. The complicated nature of religion in Miguel’s life is revealed when he divulges to his parents that he has been attending church services with his close friend who had always lived with and helped his family, Maria: “he told his parents that Maria had been taking him to her church. Her father threw her out of the house … Once or twice Miguel Chico caught her looking at him sadly and shaking her head as if he were lost to her forever” (20).
    In the critical article Mexicans: Pioneers of a Different Type, Juan Gonzalez seeks to reconceptualize the history of the United States in ways that validate the contributions of Mexican immigrants such as Miguel and his family. Such a shift would disrupt a long cultural tradition of ignoring these contributions, as Gonzalez recognizes: “Anglo America continues to deny how much the social, cultural, political, and economic reality of the West and Southwest has been shaped by Mexicans. They have been part of its creation and they will form an even bigger part of its future” (Gonzalez 107).

  25. Imaani Cain says:

    – Miguel Chico’s family obviously cares for him, but they do try to limit his gender expression via toys. Miguel Grande is adamant that his son not be “brought up like a girl”, as if femininity is something undesirable or something to be ashamed of. The fact that Miguel Chico was made to apologize to his father for playing with a toy that a.) did not cause anyone harm or b.) he enjoyed playing with was especially disappointing to me; it showed how strict gender is by society’s standards and how early children are held to their roles and expected to act in ‘acceptable’ boundaries.

    -Another display of masculinity is when Miguel Grande becomes aggressive towards Maria that he’ll throw her out of the house if he catches her discussing her religion in his home again. This would, most likely, be the end of Maria’s income (as there aren’t any clues leading towards Maria having a job separate from taking care of Miguel Chico), and therefore put her at a disadvantage. Juanita, Miguel Chico’s mom, does nothing to protest this. This interaction shows the concept of the male being the head of the household, as well as the dominant figure.

    • I agree with Imaani. The mere fact that Miguel Grande would be able to just throw Maria out on the street, most likely knowing that she had know other way to provide for herself, was a shocker. What was even more shocking was that Juanita had nothing to say about it because “she knew better than to cross him.” I feel that no one in a family should be afraid of angering someone else int he family for fear of their own well being.

      Also, the limitation on Miguelito’s gender expression by his father is troublesome, but then again it is what we see in virtually every modern family who believe that the only way is to follow societal norms for fear of rejection from family and friends.

      • Desiree W. says:

        I think this is also an interesting point that Imanni and Chris are looking at. The dynamic isn’t something that I haven’t seen before, in fact its very well depicted in the movie “Dairies of a Mad Black Woman,” where the father/ husband figure is the sole bread winner and the women is to wait on his every beck and call as a house wife. In the 1st few scenes of the movie we see the wife being put out on the streets literally with no where to turn. And sadly I have seen this where the woman has been conditioned to this role even though we can do anything a man can in this day in age. It does not surprise me at all that Juanita would want to keep quiet, she doesn’t want to challenge the social norms of her culture and accepts it as her duty to do everything in her man wants to keep him happy and her with her necessities to survive.

  26. Lauren Carabetta says:

    While reading the beginning of The Rain God, I kept thinking about the questions we discussed in class about masculinity. A few scenes in the book stood out to me as examples of teaching Miguel Chico gender. Since gender roles are social constructions, Miguel’s masculinity was taught to him by telling him what masculinity is not. Miguel received the message from his father that boys do not play with paper dolls, meaning his father was telling him dolls are for girls not for boys. This was confusing to Miguel, who was a child who enjoyed playing with the dolls and could not understand why his father did not let him play with them when his mother and Maria let him. Miguel’s father also did not approve of Miguel wearing a dress and dancing around even though Miguel was enjoying himself. Miguel’s father was very ridged in his ideas about masculinity. He kept telling Juanita that she ruined Miguel Chico, probably because he did not like that Miguel displayed more feminine characteristics than masculine characteristics.

    Miguel felt the implications of his father’s ideas and beliefs about gender roles. Miguel and his father had a turbulent relationship because Miguel could feel that his father did not see him as the macho man he wanted his son to be. Miguel was very successful in school, but his father was more concerned with the fact that Miguel did not conform to his ideas about gender roles. Miguel’s father was so concerned about making him masculine that he arranged for the other kids to fight his son and instructed teachers to be harder on Miguel. I was shocked when I read that passage. It is hard for me to understand why a father would put his son through that to teach him to somehow be manlier in his eyes. I think it is sad that his father spent so much time and energy trying to make his son fit a certain image instead of embracing his son as the person he is. However, I do think the actions of Miguel’s father are consistent with how some fathers today act in regards to gender roles. I do not think that this is the case for everyone. I think many families can raise their children in a way that nurtures their identities instead of trying to change their identities to fit some idea of gender. I think there needs to be a change in how society sees gender and society needs to become more accepting of people for who they are. I am interested to continue reading to see how Miguel Chico was impacted by his father’s disapproval of him and how that shaped his ideas about himself and others as well as his experiences in the world.

    • sorlyz says:

      I agree with your ideas that families can raise their children in ways that won’t box them into a certain gender role. There are many instances where little girls have been able to play sports, learn how to work with cars, and aspire to be police officers without growing up to act like a man. It seems more acceptable nowadays for women to do more masculine traits rather than men doing feminine traits. Hopefully with our generation, this spectrum will flip and men won’t be subjected to suppress their feelings. Additionally, I don’t know about any other women in class, but I would love to have a husband that can cook and clean.

  27. Amy Hahm says:

    In our class, we constantly observed the many stereotypes of Latino men. In The Rain God, Miguel Grande directly correlates to what we discussed in class for Latino masculinities. There are many aspects of Miguel Grande that directly follows the stereotypes we discussed such as being the stubborn, head of the household. He carries a dominant and overpowering persona in which he inflicts on his family. Miguel Grande is overtly masculine and hardheaded. In the first half of The Rain God, we see how he tries to influence his beliefs onto his son, Miguel Chico. With his thoughts of superiority towards women, things such as feminist ideals, Miguel Grande has a masculine pride.

    Something that surprised me was the fact that his entire family supported Miguel Grande’s overtly masculine exterior. For instance, Miguel Grande is distraught that his son is being “raised like a girl” for playing with paper dolls. Although Miguel Chico clearly mentions that his mother had no problem when he played with the dolls, Miguel Chico had to promise his father that he would never play with them again. Miguel Grande not only has distaste for this act, but also scolds Maria for going against his beliefs and basically breaking his masculinity ideal. While Miguel Chico enjoyed playing with the paper dolls, he obliged to his father’s hardheaded orders and promised to discontinue playing with the dolls. It seems almost silly to be that such a small act such as playing with dolls, which gives his son joy, can be such an embarrassing and disappointing act for Miguel Grande to witness. It is another stretch on how “traditional” Miguel Grande’s belief are and how he believes that his son should be raised. Clearly, it did not matter how happy his son was playing with the dolls, because it threatened his view of the masculine male he wanted his son to grow up to be.

  28. sorlyz says:

    For many years, many societies have created genders and what coincides with these genders. In The Rain God, Miguel Chico is constantly being told how a boy is supposed to act. His father denies Chico from playing with paper dolls or showing any emotions at all. Shockingly enough, his father recruits a group of boys to fight his son in order to “man him up”! How is this seen as okay? In Miguel Grande’s eyes, he is making his little son a man. He is guiding him into the right path of manhood. Little does Grande know but he is creating a very distant bond with his son. His son grows to resent his father and his beliefs.

    The Rain God has another great example of masculinity and assigned gender roles. When Grande is cheating on his wife, Juanita, she acknowledges his infidelity and believes that in some way it is her fault. Juanita does not throw a fit or cause a fight, she only says that she will be a better wife and be more pleasing in bed. If society had not had the views it has today, Grande’s infidelity would be his fault and not Juanita’s. Also, Juanita’s submissiveness and unwillingness to stand up to her “manly” husband is also due to society’s influence on gender roles. What is most shocking to me is that Juanita continues to iron his shirt for when Grande is going off to see his mistress.

    • Lauren Carabetta says:

      I was shocked too when I read that Miguel’s father arranged for other kids to beat up his son. I don’t understand how that is supposed to make Miguel Chico stronger or manlier; I think it would do the opposite and make him feel like he is a target and that he can’t stand up to the other kids. His father may have worked against his own goal by making his son look like the weak kid to the other boys. I agree with you that Miguel Chico grew up to resent his father because of how his father treated him and how he made him feel like a disappointment instead of praising his academic achievements. I think Miguel Chico needed affection and nurturing, which I think all kids need. Kids need to feel like they will be loved and supported no matter what. I don’t think you should teach a child that they only receive love if they act in a certain way. They should be free to be themselves and be loved for who they are.
      I also was shocked that Juanita was ironing her husband’s shirt and packing his bag to go visit Lola. As I read that passage I thought to myself that I would not do that. I wondered why Juanita continued to stand by her husband when he repeatedly cheated on her. I wonder how her husband would have responded if Juanita stood up for herself, because I think he would see her as acting ‘unladylike’ in that situation. Her husband’s beliefs influenced her own beliefs about what a man does and what a woman, or wife, does. This relates to the idea in class that the family influences gender roles.

      • Joseph C. Sokola says:

        I think that Sorlyz and Lauren are bringing up some good points about the gender roles in Miguel Chico’s family. His father goes to extremes to try to trap his son in the prescribed gender roles that he has known his whole life, and the ways that he believes his son should grow up to be. Unfortunately, Miguel chico does not grow up to love and respect his father for forcing him to act more like what he believes a man should be. Instead, virually the opposite occurrs, as Miguel Chico ends up resenting his father for the way he treated him. I would certainly agree that he needed affection as a child, and he did not need a group of kids set out to fight with him. All children need affection, whether or not they are male or female, and the lack of care that Miguel received from his father certainly reflects on his resentment later in life.

        I would also agree on what was said about Grande’s infidelity, and the fact that Juanita blamed herself certainly shows how much gender roles have changed since the early part of the twentieth century. The fact that Grande can get away with cheating on his wife while simultaneously having her believe that it is somehow her fault shows just how much power the man had over the woman back in those days. I would like to think that gender roles have evolved since then, that more equality is emphasized in a relationship between a man and a woman today, and that women have more respect for themselves so that they would not blame themselves for their husband’s actions when it is definitely not their fault.

  29. Audrey Allyn says:

    The first part of The Rain God helps explain how masculinity fits into the home of a Mexican family. It gives us insight on what it means to them, how they deal with outsiders, and what is considered “normal” in their family. Miguel Chico isn’t married which is viewed as odd in his family as they question him on it and it always seems to be brought up when he visits his family in the desert. In this family masculinity isn’t questioned. Miguel Grande accused is wife, Juanita, of turning his son into a “queer”. Instead of standing up for her beliefs that it did no harm for Miguel Chico to play with paper dolls, she “remained silent throughout these scenes; she knew enough not to interfere”. This shows that masculinity as a strong force in this family and what Miguel Grande says- goes. Women are obviously subjected to being dominated, and not being allowed to give an opinion towards different matters. Juanita is considered the housewife and the mother, where as Miguel Grande provides and is the head of the household. Masculinity is something that is not questioned in this family and there is little question of who runs the household and makes the decisions.

    The different characteristics of masculinity we discussed in class are seen throughout The Rain God. The father is the dominant, he shows a macho behavior, he doesn’t even subject himself to talking directly with the nursemaid of Miguel Chico, Maria, because he believes he is too superior for that. He failed to help Miguel Chico understand life and refused to acknowledge the fact that his son had different feelings and needs from his own. We can see that the characteristics of masculinity being transferred into the mind of Miguel Chico. He starts out not understanding why his father is mad at him for playing with paper dolls and shows his love for Maria, to despising her and cutting off his emotions. Even when she leaves he doesn’t stay around to say goodbye, even though she was so caring and protective towards him growing up. I wonder since Miguel Chico had the operation where is views himself as a “slave to plastic appliances” if his views on life become more sensitive knowing that he will never be on the same level as the other men in his family. We can see just by the fact that Miguel Chico didn’t follow tradition and get married, and the way he is guilty for the fact that he ignored Maria when she left and again when she tried to contact him, that he is sensitive and is not a dominant man. He has a very different way of thinking from his father. He takes everything in using logic, “he was still seeing people, including himself, as books. He wanted to edit them, correct them, make them behave differently”. He listened to people with care and understanding, placing him in a different category from his father, and shows that he doesn’t fit the masculinity that his father placed on him growing up.

    • Becky Taylor says:

      I appreciate your connections between Miguel’s experiences of his masculinity and his tendency to see people as texts. I find it significant that while Miguel Grande was an extremely important force in his son’s life, that Miguel Chico himself states that he was raised by two women, his mother and Maria. Their complicity with Miguel Grande’s demands of his son as a growing man may have been harmful, but the two combined to raise Miguel with different ideas of what it takes to be a good person.

  30. Romy Garcia says:

    After reading this first portion of the story we see how Miguel Chico is influenced by the family. Coincidentally, last week in class we discussed that children first learn about masculinity at home, from their first role models (parent and siblings). Miguelito has two parents much like many Latinos, a soft supporting mother and a dominant stern father. So while his mother allows and even encourages Miguelilito to play with dolls and dance in skirts his father yells at him for doing such thing. However, Miguelito is more influence by his mother and the women around him because that is who he spends more time with, while Miguel Grande may think he is being an example to his son as to what a “man” should do (go out to work and provide) he is also not making that clear to Miguelito the few times he actually spends with him.

    This story and especially where Miguelito is scolded for playing with dolls illustrates how closed minded his father could be, I remember when I was a child I was sick of playing with Barbies and all of my Barbie stuff at a young age instead I was into coloring and paying board games, my parents didn’t scold me for not wanting to do so, or thought I would be some sort of homosexual or confused child. I would say it’s just the generation we were born into. Before you might have been expected to play with your Barbies and kitchen set until about 12 years old or whenever you reached puberty, when I was kids things were different as I mentioned we no longer wanted to play with our traditional pink/blue toys, but now boys are playing video games and girls are simply growing up too fast and are into things like nail polish and make up at an early age- again a generational thing I would say. As one of our classmates mentioned above, this is about parents being closed minded, fearful, and not allowing children to grow and discover some things for themselves. Some parents do not realize that they could be imposing some very negative views onto their children; things such as what is masculinity.

    • Brittany Demers says:

      I complete agree with Romy about different generations having different beliefs. I remember playing with trucks in a sandbox on occasion when I was a child (I’m not sure of the age I was), and my parents never said anything to me about it. I think that it is possible that the generation before my parents may have been stricter with what toys were gender specific. Romy also mentions that Miguel Grande is close minded and I agree with this as well. Miguel Grande lives a life that many people would label as masculine, and since this is his view of how a man should be he wants his son to be the same. There are still parents today that still use the social construct of masculinity to raise male children so they don’t that their children don’t get confused about their gender—similar to what Romy mentioned. I also think that parents do this because they want their child to be normal, but what makes a child normal? I don’t think any person can be labeled normal.

      • emilyvanburen2013 says:

        After reading Romy’s post about how different generations pass different ideas of masculinity on to their children, I thought about my grandparents generation versus my mother’s generation versus my own in terms of how their households functioned. I also thought about the functioning ideas of masculinity and femininity in my current household in addition to how I imagine my future household to be. In doing so I realized just how different ideas of masculinity and femininity were sixty years ago versus today. Quick Timeline of generations:
        GRANDMA: My mother’s mother married my grandfather when she was in her early twenties, did not attend college, and had five children. Her responsibilities included cooking every meal for her husband and five children, running errands, shopping and cleaning up after six other human beings….(sound like fun?)
        MOM: My mom was married twice and still hasn’t gotten it right, but the second time had me and my younger sister. She raised two girls by herself which meant she did everything my grandma did, plus provided financially for three people…(No small task)
        ME: I am in a committed 4 year relationship where I apparently “wear the pants,” have no children, am almost officially college educated upon graduation this May, and my life goals do not include cleaning up after six other human beings…(over my dead body)
        THE POINT: Over time ideas of what a household should look like and how it should function based on gender specific roles have changed (thank god) and will continue to change again and again. I believe it is important to scrutinize and attempt to understand different generational ideologies because it helps us learn from past mistakes and move toward a gender neutral future.

  31. Last class we discussed the question of whether or not the ideals of femininity and masculinity derived from the home. Along with the presentation of Freak, I believe that The Rain God is a good example where these ideals do start in the home. At a young age Miguels parents shaped what he should or should not do according to gender. For example, Miguels father was very angry that he was playing with dolls and forced him to apologize. By putting this in Miguels head he is forcing him to accept that masculinity is the only way to go. The women in this family showed their disagreement by going behind his fathers back and dressing him up in skirts. The rage his father portrays towards them both is a very dominant trait that is commonly found in masculine characters. When children, like Miguel, first experience gender roles like this they, too, grow up having these ideals.

    Along with gender roles I see a very strong influence of death that is talked about throughout the book. At a very young age Miguel had been visiting cemeteries without knowing the purpose or the sadness that surrounds them. The first time he experienced a loss that he was truly impacted by was when his neighbor “accidentally” hung himself at the young age of eight. This had heavily scared him for what happened tomorrow. Masculinity had crept into the way people mourn when observing how Ernesto did not cry over the death of his son. His wife had wept heavily and questioned his death while Ernesto mourned in solitude. This shows how not only your beliefs are defined my masculinity but also your reactions to tragic events.

  32. Skylar Smith says:

    The first part of the “Rain God” showed how masculinity played in to Miguel Chico’s family. Maria and his mom would create dresses for him to wear and dance around in to the radio. They would buy him paper dolls to play with. Miguel Chico enjoyed these times as it gave him moments of fun. It seems as if his whole childhood he was confused and did not know what to believe because of all the contradictions in the household. When his father scolded him about playing with dolls he simply did not understand what was so wrong. His father is showing his masculine side where he does not want any forms of femininity to enter in to his sons mind.

    At such a young age, Miguel Chico could not comprehend why it was wrong to play with dolls in his father’s mind and did not understand which religion was “right” or “wrong.” Why would playing with dolls make him a queer in his father’s eyes but be fun and playful in Maria’s eyes? He still did not even know how to cope with death because he could not understand it at first and asked his grandmother what happened to people when they die. He did not cry at the cemetery or at te funeral of his friend, showing “masculine” traits. Each member in his household seems like they had their own, very unique views and to him he could not come to understand who was right. Maybe all of this confusion plays in to why he is not married. During his childhood, maybe all of the confusion, confused him in to knowing who he was. Maybe he is not married because he may be confused about his sexuality and what is “right” and “wrong.”

    • Sabryne Vidal says:

      I completely agree with how you say that Miguel Chico may be confused because of all the contradictions he grew up with. You bring up an interesting point at the end about how Miguel may be confused about his own sexuality since he isn’t married. I almost feel as if this confusion is some sort of defense mechanism to avoid and hide from his true identity. It seems as if he wants nothing to do with his sexual identity throughout the first two chapters. Miguel doesn’t have much contact with anyone outside or inside his family for that matter. This could be because he’s afraid of his family’s own opinion of what is acceptable and having to finally accept that he is not what they accept may really start to produce some major of anxiety or fear of rejection. As for him not being married and distancing himself from all kinds of physical affection or contact, that could also be a way of protecting himself from feeling ashamed or “unaccepted”. Not being in an intimate relationship is probably a way for him to not have to confront his own personal fears or having to choose what is right for him- for it may be wrong for his parents and family. Staying away is how he copes, but I think that fear is at the root of his isolation and confusion may just be what he needs in order to stay away from what it is that he can’t or won’t confront.
      Sabryne Vidal 2/6/2013

  33. I believe that Ideas do start in the house first and is learned from a young age on how to act. In the Rain God a man was shown to be the head of the house, the provider and not playing with dolls.This idea that men are not suppose to play with dolls and everything that they own has to be “masculine” approved doesn’t mean that there going to be gay or straight. Although when we think about it we still buy kids a blue truck or paint he babies room blue. Its not only viewed in Mexican society but also in our own society.
    This idea of how to teach masculinity is wrong it is not a gene that children are born with its a view of how society portrays men. Not only are men shown in The Rain God to be masculine in the home but also when it comes to Death a man is not to show any emotions wither its good or bad. Making it almost impossible to grieve over a lost one because they cant truly talk or cry about it.

    • Jesse Drinks says:

      I completely agree that the idea of masculinity is learned in the house. Miguel Grande is constantly scolding Miguel Chico when he acts in ways that are not classified as masculine. I also liked how you said that it is not only Mexican society but masculinity is taught in our own society as well. At a young age kids are told to man up or to do something like a man. I often hear guys say if they have a son then their kid is going to be a good athlete and he’s going to be a ladies man. On the other hand if they have a girl she is not going to be into sports and she is never going to talk to any guys. Why is it that in our society guys that play sports are considered macho and girls that play sports are considered tomboys? Guys are encouraged to go out and get with girls and be players while if a girl does the same she is considered a skank or whore. I just don’t think that it is fair.

    • I fully agree that gender roles are first taught in the house. I feel like it’s only normal to want your son/daughter to grow up in the same likeness as you. When it comes to the relationship between Miguel Grande and his son it is only evident that he, too, wants his son to grow up like him. He forces him to adhere to masculine trais such as displaying emotions in privacy, ignoring poor health, and playing with only male toys. When Miguel Grande is proven wrong, for example when he ignored Miguel Chicos illness, he would remain stubborn and stay true to his beliefs (another masculine trait).

  34. The Rain God pg (1-50)

    Miguel Chino is stuck in a family where in some aspects he feel as if he doesn`t fit. One topic that particularly stuck out in this reading is health/death and masculinity. Miguel ends up very sick and forced to live with an appliance bag stuck to his side. In our society there is a lack of caring for health in the male community. Men seem to go to the doctors less than women although they may have just as many complications as women. I find it interesting that masculinity play a part even when it come to health. The idea of a man being sick is connected to weakness. You can`t work when you`re sick nor can you be in control when you`re physically weak.

    Masculinity and death is also an interesting topic. Some men are told not to cry and not to show emotions and these ideas are instilled in their heads even when it can be very appropriate to do so. In the reading Miguel has his own way of dealing with death and I think it`s because he doesn`t know how. There were situations where he made inappropriate comments about death at very inappropriate times. I wonder if there is a difference between men and women in terms of how we deal with death? If it is does it has anything to do with masculinity?

    • Brittany Demers says:

      I also think that Miguel Chico does not know how to deal with or react to death. I also think that it is possible that he has become so familiar with death that he acts like it’s no big deal. From the time he was a child until the point I have read up to so far, death is constantly occurring around him. Is it possible that Miguel Chico no longer feels a need to react to death? Does he act so cold to death because he expects it? I feel that it is also hard to not be emotional when someone dies young or unexpectedly in their life, but Miguel does not really react to this either.

  35. crestrepo1991 says:

    Throughout the reading of The Rain God, we gain exposure to many of the situations and relationships that usually have an effect upon one’s ideas of masculinity/femininity and family. Similar to some of the jokes that John Leguizamo made about his life within the performance of FREAK, an individual can be heavily influenced by his/her parental figures in regards to how they should behave within their standards of gender. For example, in FREAK Leguizamo refers to a scene where his father says to drink the alcohol and refers to him as a “pussy” and “little faggot”, and we witness a very similar situation within The Rain God when the father, Miguel Grande, decides to scold and shun his son, Miguelito (Miguel Chico), for playing with paper dolls. We can see examples of machismo and gender roles within the Latin family, such as the anger from Miguel Chico and Maria remaining silent instead of fighting for her child. While showing such negative behavior towards his son, in the father’s eyes he is trying to “man up” his little boy by encouraging machismo and generally male behavior in all his interactions.

    I can personally relate to this, as machismo behavior was dominant, not just at home but in the general atmosphere of society. Due to this, there are many domestic disputes within my island due to machismo and the gender division of power within their households. In a lot of these situations, most of the domestic disputes occur through honoring these masculine/feminine principles because by seeing their significant other dishonor or ignore them they take it as an act of disrespect. This is very abundant within Latin America, and like in The Rain God we can see direct examples of how a Latin household is affected by these machismo principles.

    • I agree that masculine dominance is an ever present entity in our society, and it is no exception to the rule for Latino/as. It made me cringe when Leguizamo’s father referred to his children as pussies and faggots, demonstrating how ideals of masculinity are made so salient in the lives of men from such early ages. To deviate from what your father pressures you to be would make anyone fearful.
      I guess this makes one ask, “what is ‘manning’ up supposed to mean?” I think it is supposed to make boys and men perpetuate the very stereotypes that are causing them to to be macho in the first place.

      • I agree with Chris, again I think these saying like “manning up” is another way to say don`t be a female or don`t be gay. It comes back as far as when we are little boys and girls. When a little boy falls and cry, he may be told to stop crying or he`s a big boy and he should shake it off. However, a little girl will be picked up and pampered. When we grow up these same kind of things are instilled in us. Some men grow up to be hyper masculine because they are told from a young age that not only can they not cry, but they aren`t allow to react to pain and all things that causes it. While women are encouraged to do so and are seen as more feminine the more emotional and weak they appear.

  36. One of the main things that stuck out to me the most in the first reading of The Rain God was the conflict between Mickie and his father in regards to gender norms. Miguel Grande greatly emphasizes the importance of masculinity, which seems to have a significant effect on the way that Mickie expresses himself. When Mickie and his family are in the cemetery at the beginning of this reading, and the man with the flowers comes up to him, he is scared, and the author writes, “He felt like crying and running away, but his father told him to be a man and protect his mother from the dead.” (pg.10) I think although it is common for a father to teach his son to “be strong” and “protect” his family, it can clearly have a huge effect on how a male expresses his emotions.
    Similarly, Miguel Grande scolded Mickie and Maria for playing with dolls, despite the fact that Mickie’s mother encouraged it. These conflicting views on “right” and “wrong” in regards to gender norms, can cause a great deal of confusion for the child. Miguel Grande himself portrays a societal view of “masculinity”. He is described as a big, strong police officer, and in his home, he is the protector as well as the authority. He seems as though he was brought up to believe in certain gender roles, and because of this, he expects his son to act a certain way.

    • Lauren Carabetta says:

      The scene you mention about crying stuck out to me too. I find it odd that men are not supposed to cry or express emotions that aren’t considered strong, yet there are some exceptions to this rule. I mentioned in class that it is acceptable for men to cry when they win or lose the Superbowl. I think this may be because football is considered to be a ‘manly’ sport and the game is a big deal to the players. However, I don’t understand how it is acceptable to cry when a game is a big deal and it is unacceptable to cry when feeling emotions in other situations. The scene where one of the men went into the bathroom to express his sadness over his brother’s death also stuck out to me. He could not express himself in public, he had to do it somewhere private so others would not see his as weak.
      I also agree with your point that it is confusing for a little boy to receive different messages from his parents about what is and what is not acceptable behavior. I think this impacts Miguel and his identity formation process.

      • I agree with both of you and this constriction of crying is mostly amongst men themselves. Men are there own barriers when it comes to expressing their emotions. Men define what masculinity is and although it seem like most men may feel like masculinity has too many restrictions most of them still live by the rules governed by it. If a man is seen to be the dominant one and makes decisions for himself, why are some men afraid to be who they really are. If a real man is confident in himself and his sexuality, why do some constantly try to defend it. It kind of makes men appear weak because as you mentioned the scene where one of the men went to the restroom to grieve, he obviously doesn`t want others to see. Why is this? If you are in control and confident why do you care so much about what others think?

  37. Nelson Veras says:

    After reading the first portion of The Rain God I realized the novel exhibited different forms of masculinity, some being more obvious than others. Miguel Grande is the stereotypical Latino man considering he is a drunk, is the provider of his family, and loves his family. His name itself shows masculinity because Grande in Spanish means “big” and words associated with big are dominant and strong. Miguel Chico, Miguel Grande’s son, enjoys to play with dolls and does things that are not considered “masculine”. He spends a good portion of his time with his mother which may play as a factor in which Miguellto lacks masculinity. Who you are raised by impacts your masculinity because a mother isn’t going to raise her son the same way a father will, as discussed in class last week.
    One quote that stuck out to me was on page 15, “Miguel Grande would scold Maria for allowing his son to play with dolls. I don’t want my son brought up like a girl”. I found this interesting because it brings awareness to how Miguel Grande emphasizes on being a man. Throughout the novel so far he is saying specifically what men are expected to do or else you’re not a man. Already we know men must “protect your mother until death” and don’t play with dolls. It’s ironic he emphasizes on that so much yet he has a son who is going through a phase where he is trying to find his inner self. Men as considered feminine when showing pain, however Miguelito is constantly sick and always getting surgeries. Not only that, but his sexual orientation is repetitively questioned by his family. With that being said, Grande and MIguelito are two complete different people despite Grande preaching on what he expects in a man.

  38. emilyvanburen2013 says:

    Miguel Grande has many roles to fulfill; he is a father to “Mickey,” a husband to Juanita, a brother to Felix, a brother in-law to Nina, and a friend to Lola, Ernesto and El Compo. Miguel Grande is a flawed character whom throughout the story is faced with making difficult decisions such as committing adultery with his wife’s best friend, and confronting his brother’s homosexual lifestyle. I will address two quotes from the book which helped me understand the essence of masculine culture in The Rain God.
    In one part of the story, Mickey and Miguel Grande are attending a funeral. Mickey sees his father visibly upset and tries to comfort him, but Miguel Grande pushes his son away and says, “Men don’t do that to each other. Let me cry by myself. Go away” (Islas, 93). From this quote we are able to insinuate that men are not supposed to comfort one another physically and maybe even verbally, and that in order to heal, a man must be alone to lick his own wounds. Another quote which I found interesting addressing homosexuality and masculinity was when Miguel Grande had just found out that his brother Felix was killed after having relations with a man whom he picked up from a bar. In his desperation he said out loud to no one in particular, “Felix, you never thought about the rest of us” (Islas,83). Miguel Grande believes Felix didn’t think about the rest of his family when he was having relations with other men probably in part due to the fact that Felix was married and had children. However I question whether Miguel Grande was also upset with Felix because homosexuality is not masculine and therefore not accepted in society, in turn making Miguel Grande upset that his brother would live a life outside the set norms of society. There aren’t any definitive right/wrong answers to what Miguel Grande meant when he said this, I just questioned whether this could be a possible interpretation.

    • You brought up a good question regarding why Miguel Grande is angry and critical towards his brother Felix’s actions. In my opinion I believe that it had little to do with the fact that Felix was having relations with other people because he already has a wife and kids, and everything to do with the fact that his relations involved other males. By criticizing Felix at all for his infidelity he is being completely hypocritical considering he has been doing the same thing to his wife and children, the only difference is that his affair was with a woman, so in his mind, that makes it “okay”. When he talks about Felix not thinking about how it would affect the rest of the family, it is clear that he is only referring to his brothers homosexuality because he is ashamed of his brothers lifestyle and does not want it to reflect poorly on him or the rest of his family.

  39. An obvious portrayal of stereotypical masculinity was M.Grandes’s violent and overbearing behavior. He says that Maria is no longer welcomed in his home if he finds out that she is discussing her religion again. This would put Maria in a financial bind. This will put her at a disadvantage, because she does not seem to have another means of income. The other do not seem to defend her, because what Miguel says is what goes. Men are supposed to the head and “voice” of the home. What they say goes, because they know best and who can come against them?

    Another example I found of Latino masculinity being correlated with aggressive behavior has to do with Miguel’s father view of being a man. Miguel understood the demands his father’s idea and perception about adhering to gender roles. This is why the relationship between him and his father was not the healthiest, because he knew he was necessarily the best example of what his father deemed masculine. He was more school oriented, but his father was more preoccupied and concerned with that fact that his son didn’t fit the mold of “mach” man. He was adamant about making sure his son learned how to be a man then he went out of his way to make sure he was getting the proper “opportunities” to behave manly. He made it so that his teachers were harsher on him; he even went as far as scheduling a beat down for the poor kid. I was really surprised and didn’t realize how important this was to this man. Why would anyone wish harm for his or her offspring? Well I guess I can understand that he felt that it was in his best interest. Still he could get hurt, and in general, it’s hard to think that masculinity can be such a big deal to some parents.

  40. Ernie Abreu says:

    When it comes judging masculinity, I think that neither the MSRI or the BSRI are accurate scales and methods to use.

    First off, MSRI does not apply to all males therefore it cannot be a good measure of masculinity. MSRI describes masculinity as the idea that males are the dominant figure at home and as the importance of maintaining honor and integrity in family. So how would MSRI describe a case of a single parent home? In case of a single mother with children disregards how dominant and honorable a man is to the family. With honor and integrity comes respect, and in a single mother situation, chances are that the father is a dead beat. In this same example, the mother would be the dominant figure at home is a woman. So according to MSRI, what makes a man masculine, sometimes makes a woman masculine. But in society, having a woman with masculine traits brings questioning and uncertainty.

    As for BSRI, it describes masculinity for how unfeminine someone is. Using the example above, strong, independent and honorable are unfeminine characteristics that usually describes men. But there are lots of women that are described by these characteristics so does this mean that these women are not feminine? Men are emotional, men do cry, but it has been imposed by society for men not to show there emotions. If shown, they are no longer strong, and their masculinity is put to questioned. What you think?

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