Rafael L. Ramirez presents an insightful examination of Puerto Rican culture and the ways in which Puerto Rican masculinity is constructed.
What It Means to Be a Man begins with a discussion of machismo set in the context of the social construction of masculinity. Ramirez presents his interpretation of what it means to be a Puerto Rican man, discussing the attributes and demands of masculinity, and pointing out the ways in which strength, competition, and sexuality are joined with power and pleasure. He examines the erotic relationships between men as part of the expressions of masculinity, and analyzes how the homosexual experience reproduces the dominant masculine ideology. Finally, Ramirez draws on the literature of the recent men's movements, offering Puerto Rican men the possibility of constructing a new masculinity, liberated from power games, to provide them with a chance to not only be better understood by others, but also to better understand themselves and their place in society.