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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

Bringing Fantasies to Life: Panoptimex

Article by Leslie Salzinger

Presented by Carrie O'Brien

Bringing fantasies to life panoptimex1
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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

  • "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