How Macho Culture Sets Men Up to Fail

macho-by Cuito Cuanavale-Flickr

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.

As I grew older, I ended up getting my arrogant Macho testicles crushed under the vice press of reality. This did not go well.

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.

Too many macho men refuse to see the change in social paradigms, leaving us with an MTV generation of Jersey Shore Douchebags 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

About Being Caballero

“It’s not about the Guy you used to be, but the Gentleman you’ve become.” - Being Caballero -
Contributor to The Good Men Project , MNSWR Magazine , and Gentlemenhood . Architect, Writer, Speaker, Gentleman Coach, and Advisory board member to the National Council on Women and Girls and the National Council on Men and Boys .


  1. Douglas miller says:

    Mr, Garcia,
    Once again an excellent article. Keep up the good work. I look forward to your future posts.
    Douglas Miller

  2. Great article and very eloquent

  3. Excellent. Please keep getting the message out there! Thank you!

  4. I will try to address each question in this comment, one at a time.

    “Why should you not strive to be superior again?”
    Superior to whom? Yourself? Absolutely, you should always strive to be a better person than you were every day. If you mean that you need to be superior to others, that means you view others as inferiors. Beyond the entire arrogance of this attitude, superior and inferior are subjective concepts.

    “An equal society is a mediocre society, folks. The types who peddle equalism are really just scared of being dominated by someone better than they are.”
    Again, absolutely subjective.
    Understand that equal DOES NOT mean the same, and much less mediocre.
    “Equality is not in regarding different things similarly; equality is in regarding different things differently.” Tom Robbins
    As to being DOMINATED? I have my serious issues with the idea of someone thinking they have the “right” of domination, because they are “Better”.

    “But how else would we distinguish our worth from others?”
    If you need to distinguish your worth by measuring it to others, you will never be successful. There is always someone “better”.

    You have, in 68 words, summed up EXACLTY why we need to change. All your comments originate from a need of social validation, were your worth is only valued when compared to others. It originates from personal insecurities, and not from understanding your own worth.

    I gave up on Team Sports, but I focused on martial training. Every time I won a trophy, my mentor would remind me that I won because someone better forgot to show up. Every time I lost, he would remind me that it was because that same person did show up. I never fought to prove my superiority over others. My biggest challenger was not my opponent but myself.

  5. That Roseanne Barr quote is a lot more hostile than what is presented.

    That quote is from her show. IN the show, she slowly peels pieces of the donut away as she names male faults. When she gets to “the male ego” she pops it into her mouth.

    She has to eat the male ego, i.e. destroy or crush it?

    ON another note, yes the culture (contributed to by both women and men) set men up to fail. Why? Because the way for a man to show he is a good mate is to STAND OUT AND ABOVE other men.

    Men battle other men for hierarchy status to appeal to women. All men want to be in the top 1% like Magic Johnson or Mick Jagger who’s bed partners are measured in the 4 digit numbers.

    These men (not specifically those two men) are standing at the top of a power pyramid that is made up of depressed, castigating, marginalized and (even) injured and dead men.

    We as an entire culture need to change, not just put the pressure on men. The incentives need to change, then the behavior will too. So, how do we get women to stop desiring sports celebrities, male ceo’s and other male figures of power?

  6. This has to be one of the most eloquent pieces on the subject that I’ve read. And I’ve read a lot of them from men and women. 🙂

  7. Tom Brechlin says:

    Eduardo, at first I was somewhat annoyed with your referenced “Fathers Knows Best” in that I grew up in that era. Back then, the sit-coms and TV shows actually did depict what many families were like. They emulated a life style that many wanted to attain. Heck, back then even the blue collar workers wore suites and hats, women wore dresses and the family ate dinner together. But as you said, that is the past. But what bothers me is that there was some aspects of life back then that were good, the values were good and families were intact. Families were able to reasonably discipline without fear that someone would call the authorities.

    “Eduardo” … I presume your of Hispanic decent? I hate the word “Hispanic” because it clumps so many heritages together. When I read your article, I saw some cultural influences. My wife is Mexican (she considers herself “American” with no hyphen.) And what I read was the culture she grew up in. She was raised by an aunt who stayed home and a single mom who worked in a factory. The sun rose and set on her brother’s forehead simply because he was a “man.” In fact her mother went so far as to tell her that she needed to get married and have kids and not go to college. She did get married and went to college. Her brother whom we have not talked to for several years epitomizes the man you referenced. After a divorce and a few trophy girlfriends, he married one of them. This culture wasn’t only perpetrated by men but also by women. Dad/husband may have called the shots but mom controlled the household with an iron Huarache.

    You’re right, things have changed on TV and in movies. Just as you saw the old TV shows depicting what appeared to be a normal life, so does the television we watch today. TV is fantasy, and not real life. Perhaps some of the drama series will touch upon reality but as a drama, it’s limited to the totally dysfunction. As much as I can’t stand Rosanne Bar, her old shows, before she had countless face lifts and reconstruction, she was about the closest to real that I can remember. I think the 70’s and early 80’s, there was far more truth in what was aired then what’s on TV today.

    As for me, I’m gonna hold on to those old values those old ideals. I’ve incorporated the multicultural into our lives but I’m not going to give up the hope that some of those old values can’t return. That moms are home with the kids, dads continue to work hard to support their family, families have dinner together and get dressed up and go to church on Sunday.

    • I agree with you in more ways than you think. The entire concept of Caballero IS the old traditions, that in a way are Universal truths of how to be a Man. These truths have been the same at their core since the days of Knights and Chivalry, it’s their aplication that has changed. That is my main issue with Manhood today. Men are either forced to act gender neutral or end up being Macho-men. There is a third option, to be a Man, with all the responsabilities it implied by this. That is the “Manhood” I promote.

      • Tom Brechlin says:

        Eduardo, you and I appear to be on the same page, It’s that 3rd option that you speak of that appears to be lost in the shuffle. It’s the part of the puzzle that brings it all together.

        You said “Men are either forced to act gender neutral or end up being Macho-men.” And that really sums it up. What’s worse, in my opinion, is that there is no balance and many appear to lean more toward and want to force the “gender neutral” at the same time vilifying the “macho.”

        Assumptions are made about the “macho” where it appears people want to only see the brawn and not bother to scrape the surface. The Caballeros you speak of can have that “macho” image but with depth beyond the brawn.

        • Eduardo García says:

          The biggest problem here is that people tend to view the Macho/Sensitive/Gender-Neutral debate as a black and white argument. It is not. There are shades of gray, about 50 someone told me once.

          This article is part of a longer treatise on how to reach that Caballero we all have. Some people will think that I use that term just to be “ethnic”. The reason I choose that term instead of simply Gentleman, is that the Caballero were the Gentlemen-Warriors. They were the knights of old carried into a more modern setting. The ideals of the Caballero came about as to avoid the Vulgars, how Macho men were called in the old days.

          This is a topic that I will continue here in the Good Men Project, and later on in a possible book, but I try to avoid looking that far into the future.

  8. Eduardo, I personally enjoyed your quotes AND the entire article. I’ve seen the same mannerisms in guys and I think it’s beautiful that you expressed yourself so rawly and openly. I like the vice press metaphor too, pretty cringe worthy to get the point across. You have an eloquent, informed voice. Keep writing great stuff!

  9. John Schtoll says:

    Ouch, this is a pretty bad article when you quote Roseanne Barr and ‘The jersey shore” to justify your points.

    • The truth is that The Jersey Shore is what the Media tries to sell Young men as to what being a man is all about.

      Then again, if that was the only two things you picked up from the article, I have alot of work ahead of myself.

    • That has nothing to do with anything.


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