From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"Marianismo" is an aspect of the female gender role in the machismo of Latin American folk culture. It is the veneration for feminine virtues like purity and moral strength. For example, it represents the "virgin" aspect of the virgin-whore dichotomy. Evelyn Stevens states;
"it teaches that women are semi divine, morally superior to and spiritually stronger than men."
The ideas within marianismo include those of feminine passivity and sexual purity. There is power in marianismo that stems from the female ability to produce life.
This term supposedly derives from Catholic belief in the Virgin Mary as both a virgin and a madonna. According to the New Testament, she was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. She was eventually given the title "Mother of God" and thus became a subject of veneration and admiration. From this is derived the idea that an ideal woman should be spiritually immaculate and eternally giving.
This ideal woman is emotional, kind, instinctive, whimsical, docile, compliant, vulnerable, and unassertive. She has a higher status in the community if she has children and is a caring mother. She is also pious and observant of religious laws.
A common tendency in “marianismo” is for the wife or woman to remain sexually pure and abstain from sexual activity unless explicitly for becoming impregnated. The macho male wants a “María” for a wife - to raise his children and be a spiritually pure and submissive example, but he is also free to express his “machismo” in having side romances in which his machismo can be conveyed.
- Stevens Evelyn P.; 1973. :Marianismo:The Other Face of Machismo in Latin America; in: Pescatelo Ann; Female and Male in Latin America, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1973.