Friday, 31 January 2014

The -ism(o) Series (7): Machismo

"I have two ambitions in life: one is to drink every pub dry, the other is to sleep with every woman on earth." Oliver Reed (actor with macho image)

Machismo refers to a standard of behaviour shown by Mexican men. More or less. Sometimes its definition is more vastly understood and the term refers to men in Latin America in general. The vagueness of who it refers to is not the only aspect that is criticised. Another point of criticism is the restrictive and negative concept of machismo past research focused on (Arciniega et al., 2008). The work of North American anthropologists in Mexico depicts a stereotypical view which has been fostered by the entertainment industry, researchers are confronted with allegations of racism (Welsh, 2001). Machos are usually presented as hypermasculine, violent, rude, heavy-drinking and seducing womanisers. As the positive aspects are neglected an "inadequate picture of Mexican American male behavior is generated". In psychological and sociological research the trend is growing to assess machismo as both positive and negative. The positive aspects resemble "caballerismo", the ethical code of chivalry, and refer to protection of the family, wisdom, hard work, responsibility, and emotional connectedness (Arciniega et al, 2008).

Connell discusses the construction of  Latin America machismo as "a product of the interplay of cultures under colonialism" (De Oliveira, 2000). Delgado views machismo as an expression of counter-hegemonic identity as Latin American immigrants feel culturally displaced in the US, Amaya analyses it from a historical point of view and calls machismo an overcompensating reaction to the submissive role of natives during the Spanish conquest and a way to construct post-revolutionary Mexican identity (Hernandez, 2012). Others state that machismo did not start in Latin America with the Spanish conquest but that it started transforming into an oppressive ideology through the experiences of men and women during that time. The feeling of powerlessness mixed with anger, guilt and shame supposedly pushed the genders further apart (Welsh, 2001).

Arciniega, G. M., Anderson, T. C., Tovar-Blank, Z. G. & Treacey, J. G. (2008) Toward a Fuller Conception of Machismo: Development of a Traditional Machismo and Caballerismo Scale. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 55(1), 19-33
De Oliveira, J. B. L. (2000) Deconstructing "Machismo": Victims of "Machismo Ideology" Dominating in Brazil (via)
Hernandez, J. C. (2011) Machismo: The Role of Chicano Rap in the Construction of the Latino Identity Presented at WSCA (Monterey, CA, 2011). International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 2(20), special issue
Welsh, P. (2001) Men aren't from Mars. Unlearning machismo in Nicaragua. Development practice paper via
photos of Oliver Reed via and via and via


  1. Boy he was a crazy man. Anyway, very interesting post, thanks.

  2. He did say that? Hahaha, well, that's one of a sad joke of a very sad man.

  3. Irritating drunk man, great actor.

  4. Abbie Winterburn31 January 2014 at 10:20

    He was such a cool... anus.

  5. It became his "style" and he kind of cultivated that among the other members of the drunks club. :-)

    1. I think Reed kind of became his own caricature. I don't know if he believed his own caricature - I certainly hope not - but he for sure was an interesting actor, with - beyond doubt - lots of dubious personal features.

  6. Interesting and quite irritating actor, indeed. He was once asked if he had become victim of his own publicity. Thanks a lot for your comments, Derek, Kenneth, Karen, Abbie;-) Noah and Tim!