Brazzil `s Personals with a series of men seeking Brazilian
women seem to have an economic dimension, but that’s not all. The Anglo male has long had
a fascination with the "Exotic Latina Female." Hot-blooded, she has seemingly
offered spice and variety missing from the bland Anglo culture.
By William Javier Nelson
"The Marriage Gradient"
"The Lure of the Exotic Latina Female"
"The Meat Market"
"Irate Letters to the Editor from Brazilian
These four seemingly unrelated terms actually have a strong association. Let’s start
with the last one first. A while back I had noticed several irate letters from female Brazzil
readers decrying the attitude and focus of the "Men-Seeking-Women" section in Brazzil’s
own "Classifieds/Personals" page.
Turning to the section in question (which I had previously not noticed at all), I
located the source of the problem. There is habitually a much larger
"Men-Seeking-Women" section than "Women-Seeking-Men". Upon reading
some of the ads, I began to understand some of the concern. If I could have spoken to each
of the irate females, I would have tried to console themnot with words of solace and
comfort, but with words of sociology.
Social scientists dealing with marriage and the family have long noted the sociological
phenomenon called the "Marriage Gradient". The term has its use in describing
the tendency of men to wed women of poorer economic status. It thus also describes the
tendency of women to marry men of higher economic status. Although the term has mainly
been used (in the U.S.) to apply to marriages between persons of the same nationality, one
can readily see how it could also pertain to marriages between Anglo men (natives of a
"rich" country and thus of higher economic status) and Latina women (natives of
poorer countries and thus of lower economic status). Although I am sure that numerous
Brazilians would object to this description of relative economic status of Brazil as
compared to the U.S., numbers (per capita GNP, etc.) don’t lie. Hence, the Brazzil
want-ads soliciting "Attractive Brasileiras" could be seen to have an
economic dimension. Yet it’s not just economics. The Anglo male has long had a fascination
with the "Exotic Latina Female." Hot-blooded, sensual and vital, the Latina has
seemingly offered "spice" and "variety" evidently missing from the
bland Anglo culture.
Examples from film aboundfrom the comic (Charo) to the dramatic (Rita Moreno) to
the false (the Jewess, Natalie Wood, cast as a Latina in "West Side Story").
Actress Elpidia Carrillo scored, in the 1980s, with several film appearances in which she
captivated the affections of an Anglo male. As the Anglo film culture has long been
enamored with blondes, the juxtaposition between blondes and dark-haired Latinas has long
made for some interesting comparisons and contrasts.
One of the most comical scenes in which Carrillo was filmed was one in which Jack
Nicholson (as a U.S. Border Guard) was in a position to assist Carrillo (cast as a Mexican
immigrant). The resulting interplay of jealousy, rivalry and innuendo between Carrillo and
the blond Valery Perrine (cast as Nicholson’s wife) was humorous, to say the least.
Unfortunately for them, however, Anglo males are frequently not in positions in which to
meet or encounter these "Exotic Latina Females". Residential and social
segregation is the rule and not the exception in the United States.
Unless an Anglo male is in some occupation or pastime in which Latinas can be found,
his chances are slim. And this just applies to "domestic" Latinas, such as
Chicanas (Mexican-Americans) and Puerto Ricans living in the U.S. (many of whom are
culturally "North-Americanized", and, thus, less "exotic"). The
chances of meeting Latinas who are actual nationals living in countries like Brazil and
Mexico are even worse.
The typical Anglo visitor to Latin America rarely goes farther than the parameters set
by the tourist guide-book (sometimes, this is just as well, considering the fates which
can befall the uninitiated in many localities). One can see, therefore, that want-ads
seeking Latinas make sense, given the obstacles present.
One thing we have not touched upon is the reaction of Latinos to all of this attention
placed on Latinas from Anglos. The "Marriage Gradient" can effectively limit the
ability of a Latino to wed an Angloe.g., a poor Brazilian male immigrant has less
attractions to an Anglo female than a person with more economic potential. As in most
things dealing with Latin America, however, class is paramount.
Stark class differences make it difficult to speak of the "typical Latino".
Thus a "typical Latino reaction" to anything is something more contrived than
actual. Is the typical Latino a wealthy Brazilian graduate student at UCLA or a Mexican
farm laborer in North Carolina? Obviously there are more of the latter, but, as in
everything else, we hear much more about what is "typical" from people like the
All in all, though, I would tell my fellow Latinos not to worry about Anglo attractions
for Brasileiras. The great majority of Brasileiras never attain the status
of girlfriend or wife of an Anglo. Brazzil’s "Men-Seeking-Women" ads may
well result in the establishment of some relationships, but they are interesting more for
what they tell us of the interplay between Anglo and Brazilian culture than as an
indicator of a stampede to the altar.
William Javier Nelson, a professor at Shaw University in the U.S., holds
a Duke Ph.D. in Sociology and is of Dominican nationality. Letters (friendly or hostile,
Spanish or English) can be addressed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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