Sociology Index

MACHO, OR MACHISMO

Machismo is the public display of characteristically masculine behavior. Machismo is the quality of being macho; male virility, masculine pride and a show of this. Machismo is the strong or exaggerated sense of masculinity stressing attributes such as physical courage, virility, domination of women, and aggressiveness. The word machismo is identical to Spanish and Portugese word, though its meaning varies.

Spanish and Portuguese meaning of machismo refers to the superiority of males. In the sense machismo means sexism or male chauvinism. There are four types of machismo found in Mexican scholarly and popular literature: The Conqueror Macho; The Playboy Macho; The Masked Macho; and the Authentic Macho. Machismo describes attributes of men's attitudes or behavior which make them macho.

Machismo in Latin America

The term machismo has been used in many different, quite often contradictory, ways. Evelyn Stevens described machismo as a cult of virility whose chief characteristics are "exaggerated aggressiveness and intransigence in male-to-male interpersonal relationships and arrogance and sexual aggression in male-to-female relationships.

According to the Dictionary of Mexican Cultural Code Words machismo meant the repudiation of all feminine virtues such as unselfishness, kindness, frankness and truthfulness. Machismo is an all-embracing concept determining women's subordination.

During the women's movements of the late twentieth century, the term began to be used by Latin American feminists to describe male aggression, violence and toxic masculinity. The term was used by Latina feminists and scholars to criticize the patriarchal structure, and a particular Latin American brand of patriarchy.

Machismo meant being willing to lie without compunction, to be suspicious, envious, jealous, malicious, vindictive, brutal and finally, to be willing to fight and kill without hesitation to protect one's manly image. Machismo meant that a man could not let anything detract from his image of himself as a man's man, regardless of the suffering it brought on himself and the women around him.

The word macho has a long history in both Spain and Portugal as well as in Spanish and Portuguese languages. It was originally associated with the ideal societal role men were expected to play in their communities. Machismo is associated with a man's responsibility to provide for, protect, and defend his family.