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Breadwinners, sex machines and ro Experiences of sexual and love relationships with tourist women lead Cuban men to articulate and act upon different — often contradictory — models of masculinity. Important dimensions of their paradoxical enactments of masculinities can thus be highlighted and explained. The key implications of the Special Period in its relation with the development of international tourism have been recently assessed by Cabezaswho emphasizes how the crisis and the way the Cuban government coped with it resulted in the amplification of gender and racial inequalities and the emergence of new sexual formations that found expression in the tourism realm.
Following the massive arrival of people from abroad, a wide range of tourism-related activities escaping state regulation flourished on the island, a place where interactions with foreigners had the potential of being more beneficial and gratifying than many other professional activities. Indeed, in spite of governmental efforts to control tourism, Cuban men and women found ways to avoid governmental restrictions and create opportunities to engage with tourists, offering their services as guides or companions, seeking foreign friendships, selling cigars, providing private taxis, accommodation or food, and — central to my concerns here — engaging in sex and romance with foreigners.
Scholars have emphasized how jineterismo is a complex phenomenon, one which brings issues of morality, nation, race, class and gender into play Berg ; Cabezas ; Fernandez ; Simoni One of the most tenacious and controversial lines of distinction in narratives of jineterismo related to gender, with the activities of women often acquiring a different connotation than those of men. Whereas their activities are considered to pertain to a much more variegated and heterogeneous spectrum, which can include sex and romance with foreigners but is more broadly related to tourist-hustling selling cigars, act as brokers, tourist guides, etc.
Among them is that of the pinguero from a slang term for penis, pingaa neologism deating men whose activity had to do with their pinga. By contrast, the men considered in this article emphasized their distance from the world of pinguerosdisplaying rather homophobic attitudes and stressing their exclusively heterosexual orientation.
Regarding the behavior of tourist women — which I will not be able to address in this article — my conversations indicated that none of them was straightforwardly paying for sex with Cuban men. With some of them, I developed very strong ties, and was thus able to follow their engagements in and out of tourism settings, observing and participating in the different realms of interaction that characterized their everyday lives. It is this multiplicity of perspectives and ways of being that interests me here see also Simoni More than pointing out differences between Cuban people, my analysis aims to for heterogeneity within the lives of the subjects of my investigation — the multiple and paradoxical positionings and subjectivities they inhabited as they worked over different models of masculinity.
Accordingly, what is important to consider is the situational dimension of such enactments of masculinity. Let me start with the first of these axes of masculinity, the one emphasizing sexual potency. In conversations about their adventures with tourists, my Cuban research participants liked to emphasize their seduction skills and talent.
This he contrasted with his subtler moves and flirting abilities. In his late twenties, Rodrigo was a white Cuban man who had been engaging with foreign women for about eight years. His witty, playful, and daring attitude seemed to bring him much success in relationships with foreigners. As was rather common among Cuban men who entertained several simultaneous affairs with foreign women, Rodrigo was afraid that the gossip chisme of envious people could impact negatively on his ongoing relationships.
Illustrative in this sense was the story of a Dutch girlfriend who, wanting to make him a surprise, had sent Rodrigo a parcel containing everything he would have required to visit her in Holland — including visa and plane ticket. In the milieu of jineterismo Sweet wives want sex Enterprise which Rodrigo evolved, this was arguably one of the most valued prizes one could hope for. Who told you [the Dutch woman] that I wanted to come [to Holland] now?
A particular configuration of agency and power relations was thus actualized, which put the men clearly above their female partners in terms of decision making, an important issue to which I shall return below. Indeed, tensions could quickly arise once this other axis of Cuban-foreigner differentiation was brought to the fore: that of economic resources, which carried its own effects and implications as to what being good at being a man amounted to, not on sexual grounds this time, but in terms of economic agency.
In this frame of legibility, national belonging and political-economic considerations seemed to take precedence over gendered lines of differentiation. In other words, a Cuban man could reasonably justify profiting from a foreign women once the Cuban-foreign divide was given precedence over the man-woman one. These were the sort of narratives that my Cuban informants could activate when talking among peers about their relationships with foreign tourists.
Coming from a very humble family — much like Rodrigo himself — Raquel seemed happy to be living with him. She liked him and felt comfortable in his house, where she was also benefiting from his tourist-sponsored wealth and had a steady supply of gifts, good food and drinks, enjoying the exceptional use of a PC, an extensive DVD collection, and a range of other household appliances she had no prior access to. As other stories I gathered during fieldwork seemed to indicate, what was earned by Cuban men through informal engagements with tourists could become an appealing resource to seduce and nourish relationships with Cuban women, thus enabling the enactment of a breadwinner ideal of masculinity.
It was precisely while reflecting on this state of affairs that my friend Ernesto — a young Afro-Cuban Rasta in his mid-twenties — told me, for instance, that once they realized that he was dealing with tourists, Cuban girls felt more attracted to him, as they expected he would have a steady influx of hard currency.
For a man to Sweet wives want sex Enterprise well as man, he is expected to be able to obtain material goods and achieve economically. While this may find some resonance with the Cuban case, my material suggests that the economic resources that people like Rodrigo drew from their tourist partners could also help them act as breadwinners in their relationships with Cuban women, preserving to some extent this moral configuration of their way of being a man.
It brought me this overwhelming feeling [expressing anxiety, as if having breathing problems], I had to go out of the house and take a walk [to recover]. It was about eight years that no one had told me that. It was precisely in connection to this preoccupation of having to provide that Ernesto, for instance, Sweet wives want sex Enterprise he would not be up for the task, a scenario that informed his pessimist stance on his chances of entertaining any long-term relationship with a Cuban woman:.
And I feel bad not being able to do it, not to be able to make her happy […] If you go out with a Cuban woman, she expects you to buy at least a couple of beers, and how do I do that?
As a result, it was nowadays impossible to have a normal relationship with them. With foreign women, he argued, you could still have a normal love relation. In this context, Ernesto went on arguing:. Also, if a woman can chose between a rough man who beats her [ un bruto que le da golpeshinting at a typical Cuban man], and one [a foreigner] that takes her out for dinner, makes her happy, treats her well and cares for her, she will go with a foreigner… Imagine that the kitchen breaks down, and one [Cuban man] tells her to sort it out and repair it herself, while the other [foreigner] buys her a new one.
Indeed, Ernesto and Aurelio aspired to something more than a life dominated by economic needs and responsibilities, and were hoping for emotional fulfillment in true love and intimacy, ideals that they valued highly. In contrast to the bleak prospects they projected on relationships with Cuban women, intimacy with foreign women appeared in this sense as the realm in which true love was still possible. This contrastive vision, not uncommon among my Cuban research informants, ended up constituting two relationally opposed and rather purified versions of intimacy: sex for money on the one hand, and sex and love on the other.
But how did such trope of love find expression, once we consider that the economic could also intervene in relationships between Cuban men and tourist Sweet wives want sex Enterprise, and how did it articulate with notions of masculinity? Therefore, he kept doing what he did best, moving forward with his everyday struggle lucha. Umberto had several Cuban girlfriends too, relations that he cultivated also thanks to the resources that he got from tourists.
Opposed to the persona seria was the bandolera litt. The bandolera critique was quite widespread among the men I frequented, who occasionally went as far as qualifying some tourist women as sexual exploiters. This reproach could converge with resentment towards the privileged economic position of the visitors.
In relation to this last point, my informants tended to retort that whatever tourists might think of their economic power and what it could afford them, all their money could not buy them, nor direct their decisions and choices. You know I am rough [ soy un bruto ]. As he unburdened all his frustration and boasted his intransigent manly attitude, he told Ernesto and me:. I told her, go to hell! Who gives a shit if you are a millionaire?
I have my friends and when I want to stay with them I do what I want! Sometimes, very practical arrangements could be found to avoid exposing such shameful dependency on the women. This appeared in the story that Rodrigo and Emilio — another white Cuban man in his mid-thirties — recounted me about the amazing journey they once took across the island with their tourist girlfriends, a holiday that was entirely sponsored by the two young Europeans in question.
On that occasion, to avoid that the women could be seen paying for the men — be it for drinks, food, or transportation — Emilio and Rodrigo had asked their girlfriends to let them carry Sweet wives want sex Enterprise cash. This way, they could be seen by others as the ones taking out the money from their wallets and settling bills.
How much did you intend to spend for your holiday here? Yoanni was also very adamant about the fact that, while poor and with very limited resources compared to the tourists, he was not a prostitutoand would never wait passively for women to do things for him. One had to show initiative, do his part. As much as possible, one had to strive to be the man that took care of his woman.
At the same time, by openly manifesting their being in charge of their foreign partners, people like Yoanni were also clearly alling to other potential Cuban male competitors that these women were off-limits and under their control see Pruitt and LaFont for a Jamaican parallel.
Some of these men had enjoyed in their younger age Sweet wives want sex Enterprise lot of on-off relationships with tourist women, accumulating a wealth of sexual experiences that had certainly accrued their reputation among peers, but were now looking for something else — and the reputation-respectability lens may once again be fruitfully deployed here. For my friend Emilio, the prospect of being in love with his tourist partner, of settling down with her and building a family together, was now all that mattered. In the course of our long and repeated discussion about such issues, Sweet wives want sex Enterprise acknowledged that the peak of his success with tourist women had passed.
That was the depressing scenario worrying Emilio. The self that was taking shape in these narratives was more in tune with romantic ideals of love than with sexual prowess and promiscuity. A self that was not defined by penury and economic necessity — the exceptional conditions of generalized necesidad Ernesto and Aurelio told me about — but by universal principles of what it meant to be a full-fledged human being, in need of sentiments and affects as any other. The ideal at play was that lovers surrender to one another with no calculation whatsoever, and help each other when required.
For the Cuban men at stake, this could mean being sent a monthly allowance to face the hardships of life in Cuba, or being able to marry their tourist partner and them abroad to set up a family together. In other words, people first loved each other, and subsequently, simply naturally, helped each other out as much as they could. While we may object that this was a rather abstract and purified idealization of romantic love, it was the one to which many of the Cuban men I engaged with seemed to aspire, or at least to claim as something they were willing and able to achieve.
It was not grounded on the sexual potency and prowess, nor on the breadwinner ideal of masculinity. Rather, love here seemed to bring into play the notion of equally sentient human beings, and a less polarized gendered power configuration. From interactions taking place between peers to tourist-Cuban ones, from globally circulating discourses that reiterate colonial sexual stereotypes to street-corner gossiping and confidential self-reflection, I have highlighted the criss-crossing traffic of different models and vectors of masculinity, their contrastive deployments in a variety of contexts and scalar levels.
Such deployments could alternatively generate unity and fracture, consistency and contradiction, harmonization and friction within the lives of Cuban men, who found themselves having to respond to different needs and aspirations, and were enmeshed in different lines of belonging.
Touristic encounters thus seemed to provide new venues for subjectification and self-stylization, leading people to attune masculinities to globally circulating ideals of romance and the loving partner. This, however, should not silence the fact that the very same Cuban people, in other contexts of interaction where other models of masculinity and moral imperatives prevailed — like when gossiping with peers — could dispassionately brag about their rough macho attitude and exclusively sexual feats with tourists.
Confronted with such simplicity, with limited frames of legibility and justification, the protagonists in this article strived to situationally align their selves to the models of masculinity they found available, while at the same time re-actualizing and re-working them. Philadelphia, Temple University Press. London, Routledge, Focaal: European Journal of Anthropology Gainesville, University Press of Florida, Berlin, LIT Verlag. New York and London, Routledge.
Uppsala, Uppsala University, PhD thesis. Cambridge, Polity Press.Sweet wives want sex Enterprise
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