What is machismo?

We explain what is machismo, what types of machismos exist, and what are its effects. History and origin of machismo.

  1. What is machismo?

Machismo is an ideology that considers women to be inferior in one or more aspects with respect to men. Machismo is expressed regardless of the context in which it is. We can find the roots of the concept in the word male, which designates male individuals of any species.

Machismo is a set of beliefs, social practices, behaviors and attitudes that promote the denial of women as subjects in diverse fields . The areas in which the female gender is marginalized may vary, and in some cultures, all forms of marginalization occur at the same time.

  1. Types of machismo

In the family, men have more freedoms and women have more obligations.
  • Family areas: In the family environment, the structure of a blood nucleus can be patriarchal, in this type of families men have more freedoms, rights and benefits while women have more obligations and restrictions.
  • Intimate or sexual scope:  Regarding the intimate or sexual scope, we can say that machismo is expressed by denying the existence of female desire and placing women in the place of passive subject or object.
  • Economic field:  In the economic field, whether a man is intervening in the management of his female partner’s money or if an employer is giving a woman a lower salary just for being one, we can say that he is incurring a macho act.
  • Historical scope:  In the historical sphere we can find sexist acts when the actions of women of all classes and their participation in politics, revolutions and other historical events are hidden or omitted.
  • Intellectual field: Intellectually speaking, we see acts of machismo when someone does not hesitate to consider and reproduce the idea that women are less apt to perform logical and mathematical analyzes , even to affirm that they are evil and subjective.
  • Legislative scope: In the legislative area we can see that in some countries there are no laws that recognize women as citizens by law and protect them from abuse. Cultural machismo shows us gender as only a body that must be exhibited for male enjoyment.
  • Anatomical scope: In the anatomical area we can see macho acts when the male physical force is used to dominate the woman or the possibility of deciding on her reproductive health is restricted .
  • Linguistic scope:  In cases where language does not recognize or suppress women, we can talk about linguistic machismo. Even, it is often discussed whether the violence or denial of male homosexuality is machismo or it is not.

It is questionable and difficult to analyze for what reasons this type of thinking is perpetuated but it can be affirmed that machismo is a transcultural phenomenon . That is why we have to trace the origin of this differentiation between genders.

  1. Origin of machismo

We can find the roots of machismo in primitive societies that were dedicated to hunting both men and women had designated specific tasks. In the expression “the public man and the private woman” we can see that it relates to the man with the outside and the woman with the home, this began at that tribal moment.

Men had to go hunting and women had to take care of household chores, grazing, and caring for offspring. Giving these last tasks of a lower importance, which comes to coincide with the passive role held by women . Even the religious model positions the deities according to their gender, there were hunter and warrior gods on one side, and fertility and home goddesses on the other. These roles are common in almost all western societies .

We understand that the behavior patterns that govern men and women have an ancient origin but that does not mean that they are correct or egalitarian . Machismo is responsible for making extreme and degrading versions of these primary roles that benefit men and harm women.

In some civilizations, at particular historical moments, we can see societies that have given women more or less rights. The case of Islam, as a strongly patriarchal society , is an extreme and the current New Zealand case as a pioneer in women’s law is the two sides of the coin that serve as an example to demonstrate the wide range of social regulations between the genders.

Regulations are usually built at a historic moment and reproduced from generation to generation, that is, from parents to children, and in local socialization settings. If machismo has remained in force for so long, it is because it is self-evident, since it identifies obligations and rights with obvious and innate genders or sexualities; and it is based on the religious authority of each region being man the prototype of being human and the only political actor . It is not incorrect to say that machismo is evident today in the small number of female political leaders.

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