Bringing fantasies to life panoptimex
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Bringing Fantasies to Life: Panoptimex. Article by Leslie Salzinger Presented by Carrie O'Brien. Bringing Fantasies to Life: Panoptimex. Excerpt from Salzinger's Genders in Production: Making Workers in Mexico’s Global Factories Published in 2003. Panoptimex. Factory in Juarez, Mexico

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Bringing Fantasies to Life: Panoptimex

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Bringing Fantasies to Life: Panoptimex

Article by Leslie Salzinger

Presented by Carrie O'Brien

Bringing Fantasies to Life: Panoptimex

  • Excerpt from Salzinger's Genders in Production: Making Workers in Mexico’s Global Factories

  • Published in 2003


  • Factory in Juarez, Mexico

  • Part of Electronics transnational: "Electroworld"

  • Manufactures televisions

  • High standards of speed and quality while maintaining relatively low costs than U.S rivals

Hiring Women

  • Limited numbers of women are in the workforce in Juarez yet Panoptimex still finds women to hire

    • 70-75% of workers are women

    • Average age of women is under 20 years old

  • Women work with electronics and men work "heavy" labor

  • "What sets Panoptimex apart is the lengths to which management went to ensure a female workforce during the shortage of young women workers in the late eighties, even as colleagues in other maquilas reluctantly began hiring men."

  • When asked managers about this issue, responses such as Electroworld typically hires women no matter which country and it traditionally uses female types

The Look of Panoptimex Feminine

  • Extreme feminization and objectification of workforce

  • Only young women with "willing flirtation" are hired

  • Women are expected to keep an appearance to fit the factory

    • heels, make up, thin hands, short nails

  • "In Panoptimex they don't look for workers, they look for models-short skirts,heels, beauties."

  • "In the process, they have designed a machine that evokes and focuses the male gaze in the service of production"

Importance of Appearance

  • Carlos, one of the head managers, talks of changing the factory to have specific look.

  • Walls painted in certain fashion, everything color coded

  • Even workers uniforms are color coded

    • Light blue for women, dark blue for men, and yellow for new workers

A Watchful Eye

  • Managers installed cameras to watch employees

    • make sure they were not stealing

  • Have large glass window for bosses to peer down at workers

    • "there are visitors all the time, and the windows all around. . . all the time you know they're watching you."

  • With everything kept tidy and color coded, bosses are able to easily see when something is wrong or if an employee is not doing their job correctly

Discrimination of Ethnicity

  • The head bosses are never Mexican

    • Some from U.S, one from Brazil in Juarez's factory

  • Most cannot speak Spanish fluently or have better English

    • sets them apart from their workers

  • Bosses look down at Mexican workers

    • Openly admits U.S employees make 20% more

    • When labor complaints are made, blame it on the "Mexican Mind"

  • Discrimination is the connection between the cleanly appearance and overly watchfulness of bosses

The Hierarchy


managers: observing from top window

  • Foreign managers at top of hierarchy

    • Men

  • Mexican workers at bottom

    • Women


watch lines and observe workers from the floor


Keeping up with the set competition

Workers Conditions

  • Poorly paid

    • roughly 40 U.S. dollars per week

    • below standard of living in Juarez

    • based on perfect attendance- missing a day costs 1/3 of weekly pay check

  • Typically no promotions

  • 3/4 of workforce replaced annually

  • Leads to teen workers since lack of benefits

  • Obsessive observing bosses creates motivation for rapid work

Self-Worth of Employees

  • Part of visual aspect- making efficiency of worker public

    • charts, competition

    • "I feel ashamed. It's all just competition. You look at the girl next to you and you want to do better than she does even though it shouldn't matter."

  • Gives managers leverage of power by connecting worth to personal identies

    • Connected to value of personal appearance as well

  • Neither worker identity or human identity given, merely "objects"

Male Gaze

  • The distinction between jobs for men and jobs for women are over exaggerated

  • Through the hierarchy of top male supervisors and bottom female workers, compiled with the obsessive observing, the women become objectified and gendered. In a sense, it becomes a male gaze

  • The communication between male supervisors and female workers oftens is sexualized

    • Supervisors flirtatiously joke and blote about about families

Masculine Issues

  • Between the men in the factory, there is often competition for appearing macho

    • Men compete to show control over women workers

  • The men who work the line generally ignored with issues that affect women workers or the male supervisors because a job on the line is not deemed masculine.

    • Lack of supervision gives male line worker relative autonomy, however.

Gender Matters

  • "Gender matters because women workers are addressed and constituted within the confines of a particular set of gendered meanings-made anew on the shop floor in the transnationally produced image of nubile pliancy."

  • Importance of gender dynamics extend to masculine identities of the men

    • macho supervisors, unimportant men in "heavy" line work


  • The focus of visual upkeep in the Panoptimex factory has objectified and gendered their employees

    • To their women employees it has even sexualized them

  • This in return has created a hierarchy between the workers placing Mexicans in lower positions and women at the lowest

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