Maturing Masculinities

Aging, Chronic Illness, and Viagra in Mexico

Maturing Masculinities

Book Pages: 224 Illustrations: 8 illustrations Published: July 2013

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Gender and Sexuality, Latin American Studies > Mexico

Maturing Masculinities is a nuanced exploration of how older men in urban Mexico incorporate aging, chronic illness, changing social relationships, and decreasing erectile function into their conceptions of themselves as men. It is based on interviews that Emily A. Wentzell conducted with more than 250 male patients in the urology clinic of a government-run hospital in Cuernavaca. Drawing on science studies, medical anthropology, and gender theory, Wentzell suggests the idea of "composite masculinities" as a paradigm for understanding how men incorporate physical and social change into gendered selfhoods.

Erectile dysfunction treatments like Viagra are popular in Mexico, where stereotypes of men as sex-obsessed "machos" persist. However, most of the men Wentzell interviewed saw erectile difficulty as a chance to demonstrate difference from this stereotype. Rather than using drugs to continue youthful sex lives, many collaborated with wives and physicians to frame erectile difficulty as a prompt to embody age-appropriate, mature masculinities.


“Finding the theoretical tools to understand the messiness of life and the ways in which people understand themselves, sometimes in contradiction, is complex but Wentzell incorporates gender studies, science and technology studies, as well as the medical anthropological literature convincingly.” — Maria Berghs, Somatosphere

"Rich and engaging . . . Maturing Masculinities is a must read for gender and sexuality scholars, as well as professionals and clinicians working with Mexican populations in fields related (but not limited to) sexual and mental health with heterosexual women and men." — Gloria Gonzalez-Lopez, Journal of Anthropological Research

“Wentzell has produced an intriguing and moving ethnography that deserves a wide readership within anthropology and beyond.” — Anthony Simpson, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

"Maturing Masculinities is scholarly, informative, very readable, and affective. It is an excellent resource not just for Mexicanists or Latin Americanists more generally but also for a wider range of scholars and students of masculinities, health, aging, and other related issues. It is a work of cutting-edge anthropology." — Laura Lewis, author of Chocolate and Corn Flour: History, Race, and Place in the Making of "Black" Mexico

"This incisive, surprising, and poignant ethnography from the hospital wards of Cuernavaca draws on the best studies in Mexico and elsewhere regarding masculinity, sexuality, and related health issues and takes us to a whole new level of scholarship. Being a woman studying erections proves no obstacle for an anthropologist as thoughtful as Emily A. Wentzell—on the contrary, she deftly uses it to her advantage, exploring how women so often help to create and define men's sexuality." — Matthew C. Gutmann, editor of Changing Men and Masculinities in Latin America


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Emily A. Wentzell is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Iowa. She is coeditor (with Marcia C. Inhorn) of Medical Anthropology at the Intersections: Histories, Activisms, and Futures, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments ix

Introduction. Changing Bodies and Masculinities in Post-Viagra Mexico 1

1. Mexicanness, Machismo, and Maturity in Composite Masculinities 35

2. Sex, Relationships, and Masculinities 60

3. Chronic Illnesses as Composite Problems 86

4. Rejecting Erectile Dysfunction Drugs 110

5. Medical Erectile Dysfunction Treatment in Context 136

Conclusion. Cultural Change Over Time in Responses to Erectile Difficulty 162

Bibliography 187

Index 197

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5506-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5491-8
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