The culture throughout Latin America is one filled with rich history and depth. Two terms that come from this culture, however, are “machismo” and “marianismo.” Machismo is the way of thinking, so seamlessly imbedded in Latin American culture, that men should be prideful, tough, strong, and are not limited in their sexual relationships. The immense influence of machismo is complemented by marianismo, which is the overarching idea that women should be pure, loyal, and nurturing while tending to the home and family. The women in Señora Acero are representative of more than marianismo, they have jobs, influence, and they fight for what they want; this telenovela compares and contrasts the extremes that some women have to go to in order to succeed and provide for themselves in life.
Sara and her sisters, Berta and Josefina, although biologically related, could not be more different. Sara is forced by the death of her husband and his crimes into a life of self-reliance, in which she learns to protect herself and provide for her son. She makes her place in the world by being proactive and using her intelligence to outsmart her enemies. Sara keeps her traditional role as her son’s caretaker in addition to working and protecting who and what she cares about. Berta, although married, is anything but a caretaker. She is manipulative and cunning, only wanting success and power and the destruction of her sister, Sara. Josefina represents the traditional marianismo role of women in the telenovela. As of episode 17, Josefina is the woman who is docile, quiet, and not particularly intelligent. Her own husband and Berta easily manipulate Josefina; her lack of confidence and integrity illustrates how many marianismo women are viewed as weak. Through these three sisters, the audience is exposed to an interesting mixture of personalities and lifestyles: the survivor and mother, the power-hungry and ruthless widow, and the timid housewife.
Mariana, Sara’s sister-in-law, also represents a power-hungry and unscrupulous woman in Señora Acero. Both Mariana and Berta reinforce a stereotype that powerful women are inherently cruel and callous. Before her death, Mariana uses her sexuality and pregnancy to manipulate those around her. Though she is not present through the entire telenovela, Mariana is an example of a woman not concerned with family life, but is motivated by her love of money and power.
The working women in Señora Acero are depicted in the beauty industry. Enriqueta Sabido is the owner of a beauty salon and is backdoor plastic surgeon. She also reinforces the stereotype that powerful, intelligent women, even a business owner, are manipulative and severe. She contrasts women like Mariana and Berta in that she is of a lower socioeconomic class, but compares to them in her cunningness and cruelty.
Aracely, Miriam, and Lupita, Enriqueta’s employees, also represent women of a lower socioeconomic status who have jobs to support themselves. It does seem somewhat marianismo that they are some of the only employed women in the telenovela, but have not entirely escaped the standard of women in that they work as hairdressers in the beauty industry. All three women are beautiful, but differ in that Aracely represents a liberated woman, Miriam is an example of a woman trapped in an abusive relationship, and Lupita is a servant of the unattainable beauty standards in Latin America.
Throughout Señora Acero, it is evident that there is more than one stereotype of women in Latin America. In addition to marianismo and the stereotypes that result, the opposite is the expectation that women cannot be powerful and kind. I expect that through the rest of this telenovela, the protagonist, Sara, will break both of these molds and become an example of a loving mother with powerful influence in the community.