Tag: latin lover

Pissed off All the Time

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Still, it’s always a good idea to reflect, and to pinpoint areas for personal growth and good stuff like that. So in 2015, I will try to be more patient and less quick to anger.

Of course, we Latinos are known for our fiery tempers. We’re also known for being excellent lovers, great artists, and unemployed… well, some stereotypes are more positive than others.

The point is that I know my temper is not the best. But it apparently pales in comparison to some of my fellow Latinos. And that is part of a larger problem.
You see, ethnic minorities in general are often portrayed as overly emotional and aggressive. Just look at the stereotype of the angry black woman.

Now, if we are angrier, it may be because we have more to be hostile about. Just look at the economic data, or the quality-of-life statistics, or, I don’t know, the trend of us getting shot more often.

But there’s something more going on here, besides justified anger. It is in the best interest of the establishment to portray minorities as angry, unreasonable, and illogical. After all, it is a lot easier to dismiss someone’s grievances if that person is always flying into rages over every little thing, or if she/he perceives every minor slight as a major injustice.

anger green

And being dismissive is a most effective tactic. Think of how many issues have been erased with the offhand remark that it was all just so much misplaced fury and political correctness.

By the way, I’ve written before, nothing has been PC since the 1990s, and this lazy rebuttal no longer means anything. I mean, some people believe that being against torture is PC — and how crazy is that?

But I digress. The point is that whenever Latinos, or any minority, complain about an injustice or societal problem, there will be plenty of people who offer a smirk and the calm, apparently reasonable explanation that we are just being angry because we’re, you know, prone to volatility and irrational behavior.
Earlier this year, when President Obama declined to address immigration reform before the midterms, we heard how many Latinos were in an eye-popping rage. It was an easy concept to Google.

Or to present a less politically charged issue, consider the case of Banditos, a San Francisco restaurant. When Hispanic leaders pointed out — calmly and respectfully no less — that the name was a negative stereotype, the owners agreed and changed the name.

But message boards decried the apparent appeasement to angry Latinos, and many people vowed never to eat there unless it changed its name back. The irony, of course, is that the angriest, most threatening people in the whole situation were the ones screaming that Latinos are unreasonable and demanding. But the label will not stick to them like it does to us.

So what can we do to avoid appearing perpetually hostile?

Well, if I knew that, I wouldn’t be so annoyed nonstop.

Winning Hearts and Minds

In a recent post, I advised the Republican Party to tread lightly when challenging the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. As we know, the initial reaction of many conservatives had less to do with her judicial philosophy (which is a legitimate topic for debate) and more to do with her reputation as a fiery Latina.

Well, many conservatives heeded my advice (you’re welcome!). But to my surprise, a few continue to attack the woman for her unapologetic acknowledgement that she’s Hispanic. It seems as if several Republicans have their Latino-bashing setting on autopilot and can’t shut it off.

For example, Daily Kos points out that Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, brought up Sotomayor’s association with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund. Sessions claimed that the organization does not share an “American approach to matters” and has “taken some very shocking positions with respect to terrorism.”

I’m no expert on the PRLDEF. However, the organization apparently devotes its energy to voting and employment rights, education, housing, and other social issues that have a disproportionate impact on Latinos. I doubt that they’re chockablock with terrorists or have turned Sotomayor into a dynamite-wielding nut in judicial robes. Call it a wild guess.

And someone needs to inform Sessions that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and, as such, indeed share that fabled American approach to matters.

One would think that a political party on the ropes would recognize that it desperately needs to avoid alienating the fastest-growing demographic of voters (i.e., Latinos). Furthermore, one would assume that Republicans would look at their abysmal favorability rating among Hispanics – down to single digits, according to some polls – and say, “Let’s try not to look like xenophobes for once.”

But let’s be fair. Not all Republicans are tripping over themselves to proclaim hostility toward Hispanics. For example, this week, Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina held a press conference to announce that he was positively bonkers over a Latina. Unfortunately for him, it turned out that the woman was not his wife, turning him into, as Jon Stewart pointed out, “just another politician with a conservative mind and a liberal penis.”


But should we let Sanford off the hook? After all, he may very well have been the powerless victim of the unstoppable, unquenchable Latin Lover. As I’ve written before, this archetype can take the form of an exotic beauty who beguiles the morally upright white male, who then comes to his senses and returns to his proper role as upstanding member of the nuclear family and majority culture.

At least that’s what Sanford is trying to do. In actuality, he just comes across as a guy so desperate for sex that he’s willing to skip work, ditch his family, and fly to another continent for it.

I sense that’s not the way for Republicans to win over Hispanics.

We Love to Love You

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I want to give a shout out to all those Latin Lovers… Actually, let me stop there. What the hell is a Latin Lover anyway?

Whenever I hear the phrase, which has actually been pointed at me a couple of times, I think of some confident guy who charms roomfuls of women but regularly loses tracks of how many ladies he’s slept with that week. This is not me, by the way.

Other images come to mind. Is it the guy who snaps his heels together, plays flamenco guitar, and presents blushing ladies with roses? Or is it the player who flashes devilish smiles, tells oily lies to naïve women, and dumps trusting females eight seconds after ravishing them? Or is the guy who is open and expressive, has a sensitive-artist vibe, and respects women as well as lusts after them?

All of these images have, at one time or another, been presented. By the way, other Latino male archtypes – such as the uber-macho hombre, the mama’s boy, and the barrio thug, among many others – don’t traditionally fit the category of Latino Lover. So let’s leave them alone, for now.

Of course, there is also a female version of the Latin Lover. These are usually exotic beauties who beguile (what a great verb!) respectable, rational men. The guys are helpless in her presence, even though she inevitably is either poor, crazy, or up to no good – probably all three.

Regardless of gender, the Latin Lover is usually presented as, at best, a fling of simple passion. They really don’t have any emotional states beyond getting aroused and flying into jealous rages, and as such, they’re poor choices for long-term companionship.

In worst-case scenarios, the Latin Lover is an obstacle to the hero or heroine’s true love. Under such circumstances, the confused woman or blinded man eventually returns to his/her stable partner, kicking the lothario to the curb or ditching the dark-skinned mistress.

Like every other aspect of our culture, Hollywood has had an influence in shaping the iconography. After the imbroglio caused by my previous posts about Hispanic representation in the movies, I don’t want to get too much into it. Suffice to say that the original Latin Lover was probably Rudolf Valentino, the silent-film star who terrified/fascinated innocent waifs in the early days of cinema.

But Valentino was Italian, which leads to a question: How strict is the “latin” part of that equation? After all, we’ve seen many people of different ethnicities play this role – everyone from Antonio Banderas (a Spaniard) to Selma Hayek (a Mexican) to Johnny Depp (a white guy).

So perhaps being a Latin Lover is more a state of mind than an ethnic identity. Still, its roots in ethnicity cannot be ignored. And this leads to larger questions.

For starters, is the image of the Latin Lover a stereotype? If so, is the modern definition confined to Hispanics, or as we have seen, can Italian or Greek or even hot white people be Latin Lovers?

Furthermore, if it is a stereotype of Hispanics, is it a positive or negative one? Or is the concept of a positive stereotype an absurd oxymoron? Really, how insulting is it – if it’s derogatory at all – to be called a Latin Lover?

As I mentioned in one of my first posts, my future mother-in-law, upon finding out that her daughter was dating a Hispanic guy, famously said, “Those Latins. They love ya, then they leave ya.” I should point out that my wife and I will soon celebrate our 18th anniversary. So I guess I’m not much of a Latin Lover, at least not according to my mother-in-law’s definition.

So let me ask a final set of questions. Are you a Latin Lover? Are you involved with one? And in either case, is that a good or bad thing?

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