Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health

2012 Edition
| Editors: Sana Loue, Martha Sajatovic


  • Marysol Asencio
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-5659-0_484

Marianismo is a Spanish term used as a reference for the prototypical woman among Latin American and Caribbean people. It is also the complementary gender construct to machismo. Marianismo is an obsolete concept used to explain Latinas’ gender norms and sexuality. The term is much less frequently used in the social science literature as a gender construct than machismo. Yet, the characterization associated with this term frames the discussions on Latinas, culture, and gender.

Marianismo (or Mariolatry) is linked with the deep worship of the Virgin Mary. Marianismo (“the cult of the Virgin Mary”) has been thought to influence the female ideal in many cultures (including non-Latina/o cultures) where Catholicism has been dominant. The characteristics associated with the Virgin Mary are assumed to provide the example for women to emulate. As such, marianismo confers on females a spiritual superiority over men which can provide them with a place of power in their personal relationships.


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Suggested Readings

  1. Acosta-Belén, E., & Bose, C. E. (2000). U.S. Latina and Latin American feminisms: Hemispheric encounters. Signs, 25(4), 1113–1119.Google Scholar
  2. Denner, J., & Dunbar, N. (2004). Negotiating femininity: Power and strategies of Mexican American girls. Sex Roles, 50(5–6), 301–314.Google Scholar
  3. Ehlers, T. B. (1991). Debunking Marianismo: Economic vulnerability and survival strategies among Guatemalan wives. Ethnology, 30(1), 1–16.Google Scholar
  4. Melhuus, M., & Stølen, K. A. (1996). Introduction. In M. Melhuus & K. A. Stølen (Eds.), Machos, mistresses and madonnas: Contesting the power of Latin American gender imagery (pp. 1–33). London: Verso.Google Scholar
  5. Stevens, E. (1973). “Marianismo”: The other face of machismo in Latin America. In A. Pescatello (Ed.), Male and female in Latin America essays. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  6. Valencia-Garcia, D., Starks, H., Strick, L., & Simoni, J. M. (2008). After the fall from grace: Negotiation of new identities among HIV-positive women in Peru. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 10(7), 739–752.Google Scholar
  7. Zinn, M. B. (1982). Mexican-American women in the social science. Signs, 8(2), 259–272.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marysol Asencio
    • 1
  1. 1.The Institute of Puerto Rican and Latino StudiesThe University of ConnecticutStorrsUSA