|What exactly is so appealing about being "macho"? Why do we encourage our young boys to give up any genuine emotions in favor of strength and power? Why do we teach them that emotions and dominance are mutually exclusive? And what exactly is so wrong about shedding a few tears every once in a while?|
To be macho is to be a man — or simply just male. The idea of what it means to be male is conditioned into boys and even girls from their earliest moments. Before even hitting puberty, we raise our boys to think their primary focus should be seeking out and courting some dream woman that would make all other boys jealous. We take pride in “attractive” toddlers and babies, describing them as future “lady-killers” and “heart-breakers.” The manlier the man, the more likely he is to succeed in all aspects of life — career, residence, romance. It’s crazy how the “manlier” the man, the more he acts like a damn caveman. And somehow that’s supposed to attract either lust or jealousy from all the weaker humans, men and women alike.
The author, Rudolfo Anya, speaks about the several unspoken contests we teach boys to have with other boys in his work “I’m the King”: The Macho Image. Who can score the most girls, who can lost their virginity the quickest, who than throw the farthest or run the fastest. Little boys and even grown men all aspire to be the king. To be the king is to be the manliest; it is to reach the highest level of machismo and subsequently make your parents proud, your fellow — but obviously weaker — males jealous, and any woman within a 10-mile radius beg to be your devoted housewife. To be king is to win the game of manliness and reach the ultimate status of manhood that hegemonic masculinity pushes young boys to reach.
What we don’t teach, however, is that it’s impossible to be the manliest man. It is literally inhuman to hide every emotion but anger, it is impractical to solve every problem with violence, and it is just plain disgusting to seek women out as if they were the freshest cuts of beef hanging above the butcher counter. But our young male children observe these traits in their fathers, and their fathers observed them from their fathers. Mothers do nothing to help the situation, instead chastising their young boys for crying or acting like girls. It’s a flaw on both sides that’s taught over and over throughout the generations and just simply becomes tradition.
“Aguantate.” Just grin and bear it! I’m sure the majority of the boys in our class were told something along the lines of this at some point in their lives, especially those from Hispanic or Caribbean households. Men don’t cry, so just suck it up. Men don’t complain, only women do. Men don’t this, men don’t that. We might as well be teaching that men aren’t human; instead, they are soulless robots here to conquer sports and be womanizers while also degrading women. On a brighter note, the emphasis on "macho this" and "macho that" does make for some occasional entertainment.
While I have no idea where these ludicrous ideals first came from, they are still thriving in this day and age. Parents who are set in their old-fashioned ways constantly remind their sons that they aren’t allowed to have emotions, and then teach these traditional morals to their grandkids. They teach these to their daughters, who then relay the message to the boys they come in contact with. It’s a dangerous mentality that is still being spread like the plague. In 2017, the majority of the world — or at least the US — still believes in these backwards stereotypes that continue to dehumanize men and young boys.
Rudolfo finishes by encouraging us to understand that “we are not all male at any given point, nor are we all female. We need to find balance.” I agree in the sense that no one conforms 100 % to their gender stereotype, nor do they even conform 100 % to the opposite gender’s stereotypes. In that way, we can’t assume someone’s behaviors or personality by their gender, just like we can’t assume how they’re going to act just because of their zodiac sign or what letter their first name starts with.
Anya, Rudolfo. “I’m the King”: The Macho Image. 1996