Weekly report of a young feminist #15: Machismo is a phenomenon. We should all agree that a quite negative one. The question however is, to what extent is this form of behaviour destructive?
Macho culture or machismo is particularly linked with the violence. As the loose interpretation states “macho culture seems to refer to a social climate which facilitates or rewards macho attitudes and behaviours. Following the stereotype, in a macho culture, a man earns respect through his ability to lead his family, make sexual conquests, and defend his honour, with violence if necessary.”. This particular form of behaviour reflects a united approach to life which seems to be causing harm all around the globe. Sexual violence as the most salient phenomenon emerging from macho culture directly affects many lives of many women.
Basic human rights are being violated on daily basis because of machismo. Society created an image of dominant male which has to be maintained in any situation, thereby women are often left in undesirable submissive position. That seems to lead into rape in marriage, sexual violence in workplace, on streets (and basically wherever) and result into the intentional and systemic depreciation of women’s value. Honestly, looking at the public verbalization of women’s status by world leaders is a sufficient proof of toxic nature of macho behaviour. For instance, Jair Bolsonaro, current Brazilian president, didn’t hold back a few years earlier when he was “only” a Congressman and told his female colleague that she is not worthy of rape. When we come across extremely violent words coming from mouths of so-called elites, why do we expect men from substandard conditions to behave differently?
Moreover, men discovered that macho culture can also serve as an excuse for excessively offensive approach to women. This new common argument is expected to apologize that man had the urge to rape or beat his wife or just a stranger on the sidewalk. There is a unified scheme behind macho culture with a certain pattern applicable on any culture in the modern world.
However, there is a counterpart to this debauched form of male dominance. Occasionally, men tend to be pushed into powerful positions since their childhood. Various studies show the bad impact these expectations have on mental health of men and might lead into suicidal thoughts. So, the fact that men take their own lives disproportionally more shouldn’t come as a surprise. The cause is that they lose control. Either they don’t have control over their own life anymore or they don’t have a commanding influence on women.
Again, macho culture represents a harmful phenomenon, for both genders. However, the solution is in my opinion quite straightforward. Let the men and women choose their own path, especially women. I can’t even count the situations in which I was mad because of the discrimination of my female peers. It happens on daily basis and instead of investing the energy in erasing the line between gender roles and freedom of choice, we tend to neglect the oppression. We are raised in the society formed by stereotypes. And I say, let the women have the voice.
I can illustrate it on several instances of milestones in women’s lives which we take for granted and don’t expect the girl to think in a different manner. One of the most significant situations in which the women’s choice isn’t welcome is at the beginning of marriage. Imagine yourself as a young girl having a crush on someone. You would talk about it with your girlfriends and then you would replace your surname for his. So eventually, when you choose the right one, you already look forward to taking his name and be “his” wife. And I don’t blame you. Having the need of belonging to someone is completely natural. However, be someone’s is something else. In history, women used to take their husband’s surnames to have rights in the society, because without men, they were nothing. But since our society, at least in some parts of the world, improved, we no longer have to be owned by someone. Why would you want to throw everything what you have build so far in your life under your given name only because you want to belong to that one guy? I recently read one book by a US feminist written in the 80’s and she said that she believes this form of fidelity is already a relic. And here we are, in 21st century when women can’t imagine lives without surnames of their chosen ones and men being disappointed by women with their own choice. Same happens afterwards when you are expected to have children. It’s almost unthinkable to be an adult woman without any need to start a family. We don’t even want to allow women to end the pregnancy if they decided to!
Meanwhile, we keep repeating the same formula in any democratic country. Men should be dominant and women shouldn’t have any outlook on independent future. However, I think this was proven wrong. Otherwise we wouldn’t have so many suicidal men and even more harassed women.