Arnoldo de Leon, They Called Them Greasers, Ch. 4, “Defective Morality”

[Lisboa, 29. junho 2016]

  • Arnoldo de León, They Called Them Greasers, Ch. 4, “Defective Morality.”

Images of Mexicans as dissolute, not self-controlled; occasional exceptions (usually only partial) for “dark-haired señoritas” vs. Mexican men; gaming, dancing, unabashed nudity, sexual license or impropriety. Similarities and differences from portrayal of black men and women.

=> In general this book needs conscious effort to address tensions within dominant view and tease out separate strands of Anglo views, either within one sector or across different sectors. (Is e.g. (a) the view of non-Texan travel writers and local colorists significantly different from that of Anglo-Texans? (b) Or do Anglo-Texans adopt a view typical of American whites more broadly? DeLeón clearly wants to lean on (b) but this claim needs stating, exposing for testing and any necessary qualification.

=> In view of diverging strands the discussion of views and practices on interracial sex and mixed marriage is one of the better explorations so far in the book. — Because it tacitly and sometimes explicitly draws this out. (“Shit’s complicated!”?) — DeLeón starts some good discussion explicitly of:

  • Mexicans as ‘intermediate’ positionally in a system of color between white and {black, red}. Prev. discussion of how racial spectrum and class — isleña and criollo vs. mestizo vs. indio, etc. cut through and structure mobility within intermediate area, acceptability of “señoritas” as sexual, romantic, or marriage partners
  • Stratifying vs. flattening — there is some tacit exploration which I wish were more explicit, sustained, systematic of how intermediate position often unstable position and hence tensions in view often come from pulling in opposite directions from flattening views of Mexicanidad, “greasers,” etc. vs. stratifying views of a spectrum of Mexicanidades, some whiter than others, some more respectable o más sucia que otras, more alluring or less, more marriagable or less (this latter two NOT identical or unidimensional AT ALL, due to gender stuff &c.)
  • Divergence lacking somewhat in exploring this instability — needs but doesn’t have much discussion of regional differences within Texas (is Bexareño or Brownsville view on mixed marriage &c. noticeably different from more culturally Deep South regions like Piney Woods, Brazoria or Gulf Coast? What about Plains / Panhandle? What about Hill Country / Europa”ische Tex.? Do these diverge or converge or run parallel over time? Do we know?)
  • Mexican man-Anglo woman mixed marriages. — These are mentioned in only the briefest footnote passage (n. 48, último frase). But these obviously need an almost entirely different framework of discussion from A-man/M-woman relationships — DeLeón has been hablando all this time sobre la fantasía de la señorita de ojos negros &c. and the Anglo male gaze. Are M-man/A-woman marriages
    • more/less common?
    • more/less approved?
    • differently framed in terms of desire, agency, mutuality, morality?
    • What?

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