How Machismo Is Alive And Well — And Is Ruining Our Expectations

by Mara-Jewel Bertelli

He'll hold the door open for you; he'll be the perfect gentleman and protect you, as long as you do exactly what he says. Sometimes, it'll feel great, even if only for that moment, because you'll feel wanted.

There's a tradeoff for all of those perks, however. I don't know about you, but I'd rather open up every door myself than deal with some assh*le who overreacts every time I talk to another guy. "Machismo" is the unfortunate, lingering, toxic waste byproduct of a different time.

Like a cancer we thought was in remission, machismo is, unfortunately, still there, killing our cultural health. So, what is machismo, exactly? It's defined as strong masculine pride, which is just a euphemism for his perceived ability to get and keep women.

If you're with a guy who lays on the old-school, traditional machismo, you'll get some perks while you're in the courting stage. Doors open, flowers appear and you walk down the street without a care in the world.

Then, you go to talk to a guy you know or chat with a barista because, hey, why not. Suddenly, your machismo-fueled man will detect a problem.

This problem will go one of two ways: "What the f*ck is HE doing? (the other guy)," or "What the f*ck are YOU doing?" Either way, the gentlemanly exterior will split, and the reservoir of anger and aggression will bubble up.

Suddenly, he'll be irrationally yelling and possibly, hurting someone — or hurting you. Basically, his ego and his strong masculine pride are so fragile and such an illusion that he will instantly go to defend it. Be clear: He's not defending you; he's defending his pride.

Ladies, we all know what this looks like: It's the fight at the party or the bar. It's the irrational screaming at you for something you didn't do wrong. It's the violent reaction that seems to come out of nowhere.

Machismo is the oldest way men have covered up their insecurities. They treat women as their pedestals, as the standard by which they gauge their masculine success.

Now, you are in danger of showing them something they don't want to see. When they see it, they don't think to look inward, or do something like work on themselves; instead, they blame women.

They don't trust women because they gave us too much power over them. They will be terrified that at any moment, their vulnerabilities may fail them. If they can't "keep" us, they will have failed at being examples of strong masculine pride.

That terror represents a stronger drive than making a connection with another human being. So, while a machismo dates women and f*cks women, he's just desperately hoping that the woman will be the patch to cover his insecurities.

Newsflash: No one can patch someone else's holes. So long as women are the measurement of men's strength, neither sex will be able to find its own strength. Most women don't want a meathead who is so protective of his masculinity that he's likely to turn on some other guy. Guys who think that a meathead is all women want haven't put much faith into women.

This is why feminism isn't a woman's issue; it's a human issue. If male rules are contingent on female rules, and vice versa, if one changes, the other must change, as well.

We don't want machismo. We don't need you to be perfectly emotionally sound; we just need you to stop playing games, stop lying and to admit that you do have emotions of which you are aware exist. It's simple: Women are people; men are people; both have feminine and masculine qualities, or better yet, human qualities.

We should work to understand those personal qualities; that's how you get to know people, after all. However, we can't accomplish that if we are too ashamed of what's there to show to anyone.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It