Machismo, or machoism, is a word of Spanish and Portuguese origin that describes prominently exhibited or excessive masculinity
Masculinity is possessing qualities or characteristics considered typical of or appropriate to a man. The term can be used to describe any human, animal or object that has the quality of being masculine...

. As an attitude, machismo ranges from a personal sense of virility
Virility refers to any of a wide range of masculine characteristics viewed positively. It is not applicable to women or to negative characteristics. The Oxford English Dictionary says virile is "marked by strength or force." Virility is commonly associated with vigour, health, sturdiness, and...

 to a more extreme male chauvinism. Characteristics include domineering, fierceness, bravado
Bravado may refer to:* A pretense of bravery* The quality or state of being foolhardy* A blustering swaggering conduct* The Bravados* "Bravado" is the second track by the Canadian power trio Rush on their 1991 album, Roll the Bones...

, etc., in ways that are showily and histrionically tough.

The trait may be seen as the product of runaway evolution, as Frits Staal
Frits Staal
Johan Frederik Staal is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and South & Southeast Asian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley....


In literature

In American literature, an example of machismo comes from Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams
Thomas Lanier "Tennessee" Williams III was an American writer who worked principally as a playwright in the American theater. He also wrote short stories, novels, poetry, essays, screenplays and a volume of memoirs...

' character Stanley Kowalski
Stanley Kowalski
Stanley Kowalski is a fictional character in Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire.-In the play:Stanley lives in the working class Faubourg Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans with his wife, Stella , and is employed as a factory parts salesman. He was an Army engineer in WWII, having...

, the egotistical brother-in-law in A Streetcar Named Desire
A Streetcar Named Desire (play)
A Streetcar Named Desire is a 1947 play written by American playwright Tennessee Williams for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1948. The play opened on Broadway on December 3, 1947, and closed on December 17, 1949, in the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The Broadway production was...

. In the play (and in the motion picture), Stanley epitomizes the tough guy stereotype alpha male, socially and physically dominating and imposing his will upon his wife and her sister, Blanche Dubois
Blanche DuBois
Blanche DuBois is a fictional character in Tennessee Williams' 1947 Pulitzer Prize-winning play A Streetcar Named Desire...

. Bound up with Stanley's aggressive and occasionally misogynist views is a strong sense of pride
Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two common meanings. With a negative connotation, pride refers to an inflated sense of one's personal status or accomplishments, often used synonymously with hubris...

 and honor which leads to his hatred of Blanche.

In the play A View from the Bridge
A View from the Bridge
A View from the Bridge is a play by American playwright Arthur Miller that was first staged on September 29, 1955 as a one-act verse drama with A Memory of Two Mondays at the Coronet Theatre on Broadway. The play was unsuccessful and Miller subsequently revised the play to contain two acts; this...

by Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller
Arthur Asher Miller was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre, writing dramas that include plays such as All My Sons , Death of a Salesman , The Crucible , and A View from the Bridge .Miller was often in the public eye,...

, one of the main characters Eddie is a classic type who displays machismo. He wants to be the best of the men around him and when beaten, becomes very agitated and increasingly irrational.

In Spanish and Portuguese

The English word "machismo" derives from the identical Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 and Portuguese
Portuguese language
Portuguese is a Romance language that arose in the medieval Kingdom of Galicia, nowadays Galicia and Northern Portugal. The southern part of the Kingdom of Galicia became independent as the County of Portugal in 1095...

 word, though the meaning is somewhat different. Spanish and Portuguese machismo refers to the assumption that masculinity is superior to femininity. It roughly translates as "sexism
Sexism, also known as gender discrimination or sex discrimination, is the application of the belief or attitude that there are characteristics implicit to one's gender that indirectly affect one's abilities in unrelated areas...

" or "male chauvinism" (along with the Spanish and Portuguese adjective machista, "sexist" or "male chauvinist"). Machismo itself derives from Spanish and Portuguese macho, coming from the Latin mascŭlus and literally meaning simply "male
Male refers to the biological sex of an organism, or part of an organism, which produces small mobile gametes, called spermatozoa. Each spermatozoon can fuse with a larger female gamete or ovum, in the process of fertilization...

" (of animals); however, when used metaphorically, it connotes "masculine
Masculine or masculinity, normally refer to qualities positively associated with men.Masculine may also refer to:*Masculine , a grammatical gender*Masculine cadence, a final chord occurring on a strong beat in music...

" or "very masculine.". Although, with an increasing frequency since the mid-twentieth century, some countries in Latin America also use the term as a reference to homosexuality.


It is worth mentioning that in Nahuatl
Nahuatl is thought to mean "a good, clear sound" This language name has several spellings, among them náhuatl , Naoatl, Nauatl, Nahuatl, Nawatl. In a back formation from the name of the language, the ethnic group of Nahuatl speakers are called Nahua...

 culture, the term Macho (having nothing to do with the derivation from the Latin mascŭlus), means, translated into Spanish, ejemplar; that is to say, in English, an example, "one who is worthy of imitation."

Therefore, in Mexico, the use of that word provokes confusion if it is not accompanied by major precisions.

See also

  • Girly girl
    Girly girl
    Girly girl is a slang term for a girl or woman who chooses to dress and behave in a traditionally feminine style, such as wearing dresses, blouses and skirts, and talking about relationships and other activities which are associated with the traditional gender role of a girl.-History:The term is...

  • Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them
    Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them
    Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them is a book by James Garbarino Ph.D. that details the epidemic of violent male youths in America.-Critical Response:*Elliot Pittel M.D...

  • Marianismo
    "Marianismo" is an aspect of the female gender role in the machismo of Latin American folk culture. It is the veneration for feminine virtues like purity and moral strength...

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