Macho Men? How about Caballeros, instead. Eduardo Garcia wants us to re-think the process of manning up.
A guy is a lump like a doughnut. So, first you gotta get rid of all the stuff his mom did to him. And then you gotta get rid of all that macho crap that they pick up from beer commercials. And then there’s my personal favorite, the male ego. —Roseanne Barr
Social development is amusing. As a child I was taught that I had to be tough. I was taught that real men don’t cry or show any emotions, except for rage or anger. These were acceptable manly emotions. A macho had to be good at sports, if only to have an excuse to show off his manliness by crushing his competition.
This didn’t sit that well with me, because, after surviving my failed attempt at little league, I was pretty much done with all team sports. My artistic and sensitive streak didn’t help much either. I was expected to be a ladies’ man—a man, who, the more noviecitas (girlfriends) he could have at once, the better. In this I was actually pretty good, thanks to that artistic streak I mentioned earlier. God forbid I learned to cook or clean, that’s what my mother’s job, and would be my wife’s job when I got married.
I was raised in a Macho’s world (read as “a man’s world”), yet the real authority in the household was our Matriarch. I learned to understand that Men were the professionals; women were their supporting cast, something that made little logic when you looked at test scores at my school where the girls would regularly beat the boys in scholastic aspects. Right or wrong was irrelevant, as long as I had superior cojones and made sure everyone else felt inferior. I was taught that to be successful you had to aspire to be the Alpha, the Matador, the Macho-man; standing over the shoulders of your minions. I am not sure if that was done so men could compensate for everything they did not have at the time, like self-respect and respect for others. I suspect that at some point being a gentleman of old got lost in cheap 70’s Kung Fu theater translations based on chauvinism and greed. We became Machos.
As I grew older, I ended up getting my arrogant Macho testicles crushed under the vice press of reality. It did not go that well, having my ego come crashing down with everything that I was told as a kid. Section by section, brick by brick, life has a way to break down your walls. I learned the hard way that not everything can be solved with force—a lesson that life is constantly trying to teach men, not just kids, today. With violence and force, even if you win, you still lose; be it a friend, respect, or simply bail money and freedom. I learned that no woman worthwhile was willing to be just arm candy. I learned that standing over the people I put down would bite me in the ass sooner or later because this is actually a very small world, a fact so universal Walt Disney created a ride around it.
Decades of Macho education only helped to set up most men for failure in this modern world. I learned my lessons the hard way, usually after I messed up. Too many macho men refuse to see the change in social paradigms, leaving us with an MTV generation of Jersey Shore Douchebags who wonder why women get offended with sandwich jokes; men who confuse loneliness with freedom.
Ironically, the Macho swung the pendulum so far up their chauvinistic asses, that when it swung the other way, we were left with a gender hating, politically over-correct, and sanitized society. Women began getting offended if you dared to open a door for them, as if that minimized their capabilities. I am the first to admit that in a way it did. Political correctness became just as bad as hate speech. The social environment became a minefield of faux pas and sexual harassment lawsuits where Political correctness now was the ruler of the urban jungle. The rebels of the time became the crass and the vulgar, and were both hated and applauded for it their offensive behavior. Now days, the pendulum is finally balancing out. Society has begun to move forward in its idea that Blacks, Whites, Latinos, Asians, Straight, Gay, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Men, Women; everyone should be equal, without sacrificing their differences and individuality. The world has made huge strides in social equality but there is still a long way to go. Just turn on any primetime television program and look at the content or the actual diversity.
Unfortunately the last vestiges of the bygone Macho Conservative era are trying to roar a comeback, trying to push the pendulum again, and go back to the days where milk was delivered door to door by men in white, a world where kids were exploited for cheap labor—I mean, worked at the local shop for extra cash—and a world where a woman waited with a drink ready for her husband who came home after he finished cheating on her with the office secretary. Those days are long gone, if they ever actually existed, living only in the fantasy world of Father Knows Best reruns.
For that very same reason it is that we have to fight off the Machista stereotype. We must turn into the Caballeros that we need to be. We must stand and prove that a man can rise to the occasion, not by pushing others down, but by standing side by side, forging a better tomorrow.
Photo: Cuito Cuanavale/Flickr