Third Gender Defies Image of Macho Mexico

Behind the Mask

Hybrid-gender Zapotec men — known as los muxes — are the subject of a new book by UCR scholar Alfredo Mirandé. The book, published by University of Arizona Press in March 2017, is called “Behind the Mask: Gender Hybridity in a Zapotec Community.”

Muxes challenge the image of Mexico as a male-dominated land of machismo and homophobia, Mirandé said. Over a span of seven years, the sociologist interviewed muxes and community residents and leaders in Juchitán, a city of nearly 75,000 people in the state of Oaxaca, approximately 425 miles east of Acapulco on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

Los muxes are technically gay in that they have sexual relationships with other men, but they live their lives dressed as women — mostly in traditional, feminine, Zapotec attire — and adopt feminine behaviors. They distinguish themselves from gay men and transvestites, however, and consider themselves a third gender, Mirandé said.

“Acceptance of muxe as a third gender is ancient, and may be traced to accounts of cross-dressing Aztec priests and Mayan gods who were at once male and female,” Mirandé wrote in “Behind the Mask.” Muxe is a Zapotec word apparently derived from the Spanish word for woman, which means effeminate.

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Women Faculty Take on More Internal Service Work Than Male Colleagues

a photo of UCR's Cassandra Guarino.

Cassandra Guarino is a professor of education and public policy.

Researchers at UCR and Indiana University have shown that women faculty members are doing more service work — primarily internal service — than their male colleagues, which may hinder their overall success in academia. Internal service work, while vital for the day-to-day operations of a campus, typically counts less in promotions and salary increases than research, teaching, or external service activities.

The study, titled “Faculty Service Loads and Gender: Are Women Taking Care of the Academic Family?” was published April 5 in the journal Research in Higher Education. The lead author is Cassandra Guarino, a professor of education and public policy in UCR’s Graduate School of Education. Her coauthor is Victor Borden, professor of higher education and student affairs at Indiana University at Bloomington.

Using a large national sample, the researchers found that, on average, women faculty perform significantly more service than men. The researchers controlled for rank, race/ethnicity, and discipline. That difference is driven primarily by internal service — i.e., service to the university, campus, or department — rather than external service — i.e., service to the local, national, and international communities.

“We find strong evidence that women faculty perform more internal service than male faculty in academia and are essentially doing more than their fair share of ‘taking care of the academic family’,” Guarino said.

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