Origins of Machismo: Identifying Its Presence in Latino Family Dynamics
Machismo and its different expressions have long been associated with Latino culture.
Misogyny or prejudice against women isn’t an exclusive staple of Hispanic culture, but in Latin American family dynamics machismo is very common.
But what is machismo, and how has it evolved in Latin American families? Where and when can we trace back the origins of machismo?
Keep reading to discover the answers to these questions.
Here you’ll also learn about the characteristics of machismo and the different types of this prevalent attitude towards women in Latin American family dynamics.
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What Is Machismo?
The gender roles in Hispanic culture are a bit different than those in American culture, and machismo plays an important part.
But what is machismo, and how has it influenced Latino culture so much?
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, machismo is an “exaggerated pride in masculinity, perceived as power, often coupled with a minimal sense of responsibility and disregard of consequences.”
To have a better understanding of how this male-Latino gender role has evolved, it’s important to analyze The Powerful Role of Family in Hispanic Culture.
We must also learn a bit about Latin American family history.
Brief History of Machismo
The Oxford English Dictionary “reports the first written usage of ‘macho’ in a 1928 article in The Nation.”
Surprisingly, it wasn’t even associated with Latinos.
According to the same dictionary, the first listed use of the word “machismo” appeared in 1948, and twenty years later it was “directly referred to Mexican Americans.”
While the use of the terms “macho” and “machismo” may be recent, the cultural behavior described by these words is much older.
Some sources identify the origins of machismo in pre-Columbian times.
Others believe it originates “in the Spanish traditions of patriarchy, that placed great importance on one’s ties with nobility.”
As with most things related to Latin American culture, it’s probably a mix of indigenous and Spanish characteristics.
The truth is that machismo exists, and for different reasons, it has been associated with Hispanic culture.
So, let’s try to understand it better.
Machismo culture is “a social attitude of sexist origin in which the male exhibits overbearing control over his wife and children.”
This multidimensional culture is “often perpetuated through the way Hispanic men raise their children.”
In one of its worst expressions, “machismo enforces toxic masculinity.”
Let’s find out some of its most common characteristics and a few examples of machismo itself.
Characteristics of Machismo
There are many characteristics of machismo.
For instance, a machista “may be more aggressive and possessive toward women” and usually make “demeaning comments and view women as inferior.”
Some researchers identify aggressiveness and hypersexuality as the two main characteristics of machismo.
Another characteristic of machos is that they tend to “closely control their female partners.”
Respect for the decisions made by men is an important characteristic of machismo, as men are seen as superior in this culture.
Additionally, challenging men’s decisions would be “like challenging their masculinity, and it’s a symbol of disrespect too.”
In machismo culture, typical male gender roles include:
- Demand respect and authority
- Being responsible for financial decisions in the household
- Being tough and strong
- Provide for a family
However, not only male Latino gender roles are affected by machismo. Females also have a role to play:
- Subservient attitude
- Ultimate respect for men
- Raise children and be responsible for household chores
It’s easier to identify machismo through a series of examples. For instance, in machismo “dominance is seen as an admirable trait.”
According to this vision, as men provide for their families, they can treat the women in their families as they wish.
Psychologists have identified four types of machismo:
- Conqueror macho
- Playboy macho
- Masked macho
- Authentic macho
The Conqueror Macho
The conqueror type is the man who likes controlling everybody around him and dominating women.
Inspired by the romanticized image of the Spanish Conquerors, but also matches with the American Cowboys.
The Playboy Macho
This is the stereotypical macho that expresses his machismo through aggression, domination, and abuse.
This type of machos “tend to exert superiority over women biologically, socially and intellectually.”
The Masked Macho
A more repressed type of macho and one of the less common ones.
The masked machos hide their intentions and are often seen as rebellious.
The Authentic Macho
This type of macho tends to be a responsible husband and father who provides for his family.
How Does Machismo Manifest in a Latino Family?
Traditional gender roles in Hispanic culture and machismo are closely related.
In Latino culture, “men are expected to behave valiantly; to protect the honor and welfare of their families,” which sounds very similar to the authentic macho example explained above.
These traditional gender roles tend to perpetuate machismo culture in Latino families.
It may manifest in a Latino family in many different ways:
- Men are served first on the dinner table
- Boys are expected to go to university, while for girls, the expectations may be different
- Boys may have more freedom than girls
- Boys are expected to be more liberal in their romantic lives, while girls are expected to be more reserved in that regard
As you can see, machismo is everywhere and manifests itself in the most subtle ways.
Although it has long been associated with Latino culture due to the origin of the word that gives its name, machismo isn’t an exclusive expression of the Hispanic way of life.
However, gender roles in Latino culture are indeed more “traditional” and “conservative” in a non-political way.
Also, these values play an important role in perpetuating machismo among Latino families.
If you want to know more about Latino culture, an excellent way to start is by learning the language spoken by the members of this fascinating culture.
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