Maybe you think you’re going to get a strong man when you ask for “macho,” but that word doesn’t mean what you think it means.
A woman recently told me she wishes men would show more machismo (yes, that made me slightly nauseous too.)
Maybe she meant more “chivalry” but really, that’s just basic human kindness. It doesn’t matter what gender you are.
This conversation didn’t happen in 1975. It was just the other day. It made me worry that there are armies of women out there longing for a macho man.
For humanity’s sake, I need to set the record straight. There’s nothing attractive about machismo. It’s not something the world needs more of. And it’s not something men should be striving for.
The Truth About Machismo
Machismo is (as defined by the Collins American English Dictionary) “overly assertive or exaggerated masculinity, especially as characterized by a show of virility, domination of women, etc.”
We do not need more men who believe they are more powerful and dominant over women. Who believe that women are not equal. That women should be seen and not heard. That if women speak, they should not be listened to because their worth is less than their male counterparts. That women should be disempowered. That women should be barefoot and pregnant, in the home, cooking and cleaning and caring for the children.
Machismo breeds violence and abuse, physical, sexual and emotional, towards both women and children. It hinders growth and innovation and perpetuates ingrained oppressive and archaic behavior, from generation to generation. It is the foundation for infidelity, jealousy, rage, and fear. It creates disengagement rather than supportive connection, commitment, and collaboration.
Costa Rica, my home for the last three years, has no shortage of machismo. In a culture in which mothers are so revered, it is shocking to witness the daily denigration of wives, girlfriends, daughters and just women in general.
Machismo in Action
I’ve been told that my confidence, in myself and my work, is seen as arrogance by men. I’ve been used as a scapegoat, not listened to and told that we can’t try to improve the workplace as it would make the men feel bad to point out their wrongdoings. I’ve been told that I should be “seen” with high-level managers (all men, of course), so other team members would respect me.
None of the above went over well with me. My competence, confidence, and professionalism will continue, and if my strong work ethic intimidates people, it’s probably because they are struggling with their own insecurities and feelings of inferiority. I’ve been kicking ass in jobs for nearly 30 years, and if some people don’t like it, that’s just too bad. I’ve learned not everyone will like me, and more importantly, I’ve learned to be okay with that.
A macho man views a strong female counterpart like me, not as skilled, intelligent and confident but instead as arrogant, bossy or bitchy. He’s damaging his own career by creating a hostile atmosphere at work, and ignoring a valuable resource in his team. And I can tell you from personal experience, it’s not much fun from the woman’s point of view either.
Everybody Hurts – Even (maybe especially)Macho Men
It’s not just women and children hurt by machismo. The macho man may appear to be brimming with confidence, but on the inside he is just as insecure as the rest of us. The need to create an aura of machismo forces him to deny his true feelings, and betray himself. Machismo creates distance and disconnection. A man who sees women as inferior forgoes the joy of mental, emotional and sexual connection with an equal. The fleeting happiness of domination is no match for the enduring love that can be shared when two people connect on a much deeper, more powerful soul level.
What We Need Instead
We don’t need more machismo in men. Machismo comes from weakness, a lack of confidence and cowardice. What we need is respect, kindness, and equality.
We must create balance and harmony in our lives, our relationships, our planet. We are all connected. We are all ONE. We each have our own gifts, we each need to be respected, we each need to be seen as equal both men and women.
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Photo: Getty Images