Killing for Machismo

It was a crime of passion

She took me by the heart when she took me by the hand

Crime of passion

A beautiful woman and a desperate man  —- Ricky Van Shelton

I find it ironic that there are Seven Deadly Sins or vices but they do not include the “Sin of Machismo.”  I would venture to argue that there are more people killed in the world every day because of Machismo than any other cause or problem that you could name.  To not include Machismo in any list of major crimes or sins or vices, is one of the most egregious oversights in history.  Is it because Machismo is a uniquely masculine concept that it has never acquired the degree of condemnation that it merits?  Or is it an example of the “Fish being the last one to see the water.”   Some would argue that it is more likely a blatant example of sexism.   

Men extol Machismo, reward Machismo, give medals for Machismo, High Five Machismo, glorify Machismo, drink toasts to Machismo, pat each other on the back for Machismo, die for Machismo and happily kill each other for Machismo.  A Macho man never cries, never shows pain, never is soft, never loses, never surrenders, never shows fear, never gives quarter, never is remorseful and never ever changes a diaper.  You are not a “Real” man if you don’t have Machismo.  Machismo is the foundation for masculinity in every culture in the world.


  [mah-cheez-moh, –chiz-, muh-]  

1.  a strong or exaggerated sense of manliness; an assumptive attitude that virility, courage, strength, and entitlement to dominate are attributes or concomitants of masculinity.

2. a strong or exaggerated sense of power or the right to dominate: The military campaign was an exercise in national machismo.

 There are two opposite concepts to Machismo.  You may ask how you can have two opposites.  Well here is a case in which two opposites of a concept exist.   The first opposite to Machismo is “femininity.”  Femininity is soft, warm, supportive, nurturing, accepting, forgiving and the first to change the diapers.  Femininity represents everything that Machismo is not.  No one ever killed another or beat another to death because their “Femininity” was questioned.  We don’t go to war because our “Femininity” was questioned nor do we invade another country to protect our “Femininity.” 

 “Machismo makes no provision for preparing lunch, doing the laundry, or minding the baby.”  — Mason Cooley

The second opposite of Machismo is Gayness.  Gay is not tough.  Gay is “queer.”   A “Real” man is not Gay.  Gay men must be feminine since they cannot be Machismo.  Gay men don’t play football or baseball or soccer or box or join the military since only “Real” Men do these things.  If you are Gay, you can be a hair dresser or actor or flight attendant but you cannot be a police officer, firemen or truck driver since these “Real” men professions require one to be Machismo.  Gays and Machismo are antithetical.

 “The tragedy of machismo is that a man is never quite man enough.” —  Germaine Greer

The number of women that are abused each year by men was the recent focus of a World Health Organization Multi-country Study on Women’s Health and Domestic Violence against Women (2013)Among the findings were the follows:

  • One in 3 women worldwide is a victim of physical or sexual violence, resulting in a global health epidemic, according to a new World Health Organization (WHO) report.
  •  Most of these females are attacked or abused by their boyfriends or husbands. “This is an everyday reality for many, many women,” Charlotte Watts, author of the report and a health policy expert at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said to Reuters.
  • Nearly 38% of all women murder victims were killed by intimate partners, according to the report, which was co-authored by Watts and Claudia Garcia-Moreno of the WHO.
  •  Forty-two percent of females who have experienced physical or sexual violence by a partner suffer injuries, the authors explained.

Common health issues they noted in the study include:

What are the reasons that men kill and abuse women?  Experts identify different reasons for domestic abuse than for murder but the bottom line for both comes down to control and power.

“Most experts say there is no one profile of men who batter or beat women.  Domestic violence crosses all social and economic boundaries.  According to Dr. Susan Hanks, Director of the Family and Violence Institute in Alameda, California, men batter because of internal psychological struggles. Usually, men who batter are seeking a sense of power and control over their partners or their own lives, or because they are tremendously dependent on the woman and are threatened by any moves on her part toward independence.” 

Some reasons given for the abuse by those who study domestic violence include:  jealousy, envy, inferiority, anger, revenge, alcoholism, and simple sadism.  Seldom do you see the issue of Machismo on any of these lists.  However, while there may be different factors precipitating the abuse and violence, without the underlying foundation of Machismo, you would not have the resulting abuse.  Machismo is the “entitlement to dominate.”  If you remove the “entitlement” you remove the abuse and violence.  For instance, if I find my wife going out with another man and I become jealous; it is my “Right to dominate” that gives me the privilege to attack her or the other man.  If I do not believe in a “Right to dominate,” I can divorce my spouse, request counseling, ignore her unfaithfulness, but I will not abuse her. 

Think of all the instances that you read in the paper of stalking, abuse and murder.  In every one of these cases, there is the assumption that is seldom mentioned by psychologists that Machismo gives men the “right to power.”  In fact, not to act on this right is to acquiesce ones maleness.  It is to give up the Machismo that is culturally at the heart of our masculinity.  The strength of this concept of masculinity varies across cultures but few cultures in the world lack the concept of Machismo though it may be called something else:

  • Code of Chivalry
  • Knights Honor
  • Warriors Code

 There is an underlying Machismo in all of these codes that is designed to instill a behavior in a culture which exhorts men to stand up for themselves and their beliefs.  By itself, this would not be bad.  Men must defend their families and countries when necessary.  However, when it comes to defending the more ambiguous elements of honor, reputation, face, dignity, respect and self-esteem, the resort to arms and violence becomes counterproductive.  Solomon Schimmel in “The Seven Deadly Sins” notes that the Sin of Pride led President George Bush to want to humiliate Saddam Hussein while Hussein claimed to be fighting for “Arab dignity.”  How many wars have been fought for national pride or national honor? 

One could make the argument that most if not all wars were not over territory, religion or economics but over national pride.  The Greeks went to war with the Trojans not over Helen but because their masculine pride had been insulted.  Hitler started WWII to avenge Germany’s defeat and loss of face in WWI.  The USA went to war in Vietnam to show the communists that capitalism was more powerful.  Pride is the greatest of all sins identified by religious leaders and philosophers.  However, it is not pride but Machismo which is the trigger to violence and war.  Pride may be the apparent foundation, but Pride by itself does not cause war or violence.  Indeed, a healthy pride mixed with a certain degree of humility is a goal to be pursued by both individuals and nations. 

The danger is that Pride mixed with Machismo creates a volatile concoction which is the source of most violence in the world.  Take any of the Seven Deadly sins: Pride, Envy, Anger, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, and Sloth, mix these with a sense of Machismo and you have the recipe for violence.  Machismo confers the right to act on our impulses and to compel others or dominate others that create our internal conflicts.  Without Machismo, we would have to find other means to dispel the psychological problems that arise in each of us.  Machismo allows us to circumvent any introspection by demanding that our honor be revenged or that our pride be restored.  Machismo demands the duel and the Code Duello specifies the rules for killing. 

“The two men stared at each other. Assumptions were made, judgments rendered, dicks measured.” — Jennifer Estep

Time for Questions:

Can women be Machismo?  What would you be like if you had less Machismo in your character?  Can someone have too little Machismo?  What evil do you see in the world that you would contribute to Machismo?  What positive effects of Machismo do you see?  How can we minimize the negative effects of Machismo? 

Life is just beginning.

15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Fred Broussard
    Aug 17, 2013 @ 14:11:38

    Great words to change the way people think..probably never achieve the status of changing the seven deadly sins. To me the seven deadly sins are like the results of a brainstorming and affinity grouping exercise the Sam showed us long ago. There are usually many possibilities for naming each cluster.
    Although not visible to a viewer who didnt endure the exercise , there are invisible lines of interaction running every direction between “clusters” or the affinity groupings. What the groups are titled is owned by those involved. We were created in a patriarchal manner and so remain that way. Biology, sociology, physiology don’t change names or add another to the three for much the same reason. For myself, I add the effects of “spirit” to the three and the interactions between all are overwhelming (combinations and permutations?).
    As I see the complexity I am reminded to be cautious of judging others. Only a great God could ever sort it all out..and I believe he does..eventually.



  2. Fred Broussard
    Aug 17, 2013 @ 14:32:02

    The patterns and intensity of macho behavior seem to vary among different ethnic well as culture groups. However, people seem to often ignore the existence of dysfunctional macho behavior..male or female. As Sam once told me..”complicated is a bowl of spaghetti; complex, a bowl of worms”. This subject, though worthy of serious thought, is the stuff of worms.
    The words of Dr. Michael LeBouf (author of “The Greatest Management Principle) come to mind..”What gets recognized and rewarded; gets repeated”. Habitual Dysfunctional macho behavior has usually been recognized a long, long time..perhaps becoming ingrained in sociology and biology. Geeez, long term macho physical activity taken to extremes even adds to physiological body factors.
    Easy to see why it will go away or change willingly. Changing all three is like “turning a big ship”.
    Words like yours are like a small rudder but they can help change the ship’s course.. with time and perseverance.
    Thanks for the thoughts as I begin my day. Now I gotta get to work.



    • johnpersico
      Aug 18, 2013 @ 00:03:33

      Thanks for the comments Fred. I think your remarks are right on. More like worms and very complex. I realize I am just scratching the surface but I think and hope more erudite and profound people can bring this to light.



  3. Fred Broussard
    Aug 17, 2013 @ 14:34:36

    oops…Should have worded “NOT” go away or change willingly.



  4. Ralph Swain
    Aug 17, 2013 @ 17:12:04

    Your recent posting entitled, “Killing for Machismo” brought mind a recent and fleeting incident. I witnessed a muscle-bound man in his mid- to late-20s walk out of the L.A. Fitness Center the other day yelling, “Son of a bitch!” repeatedly in an extremely loud voice as he headed toward his car. The object of his attention was a young Latina woman walking with a man to their car. She had a nice figure and was wearing tight shorts having obviously finished a workout session. The couple showed some class by not looking at or responding to the loud-mouthed muscle-head even when he shouted, “Is that your boyfriend with you?” as he got into his car. I found this display of “machismo” disgusting and disturbing. It came from a man who obviously has no class and little respect for others, especially women. Such open displays of behavior suggest a form of extreme exhibitionism coming from someone who obviously has inner issues of his own for which he is overcompensating. Such people have no idea how idiotic they appear by publicly displaying the fact that they have absolutely no class or self-respect.



    • johnpersico
      Aug 18, 2013 @ 00:07:20

      Thanks for the comments and great example Ralph. I am very appreciative that you have taken the time to read my blog. I hope others will see your comments as you provide an excellent example of the kinds of “sicko” behavior that passes for masculinity. I am glad no one was injured or hurt. It must have been hard for the other guy to keep his cool. I know a case where a gun was pulled in a very similar situation. Hope all is going well for you Ralph.



  5. Greg Gorman
    Sep 02, 2013 @ 03:31:44

    1. Can women be Machismo?
    To be “macho” is trait applied to the exaggerated behaviors driven by masculine pride. Because of this definition, I would say no. However, if one looks at the behaviors resulting from succumbing to this drive, one can find many similarities.
    Women have killed their husbands; cut off their penis; killed the other woman; abandoned their children; created irreconcilable differences that rob their husbands of their home, their money and his children.
    As presidents of countries, such as India, Germany, England, and Israel, they have waged war, created cruel and immoral policies with regard to minorities of the country. They have refused to help other countries with their financial problems which created great hardships for the citizenry, etc.
    I wouldn’t describe their behavior as “macho”, but it is quite abhorrent, and oddly understandable. Clearly some of it stems from jealousy. Oddly, I can’t seem to categorize their behavior as prideful. My analysis tends to believe that their pride was hurt. I wonder what they call the trait applied to the exaggerated behaviors driven by the wounded feelings of a woman.
    2. What would you be like if you had less Machismo in your character?
    Machismo, I believe, is a behavior that men exhibit to establish ranking in hierarchy of a group. This behavior is the equivalent of bucks battling for dominance in the herd by crashing their antlers against each other. I believe the reward to be the same in both species, i.e. the dominant male gets the babes.
    Once dominance is established, machismo can get in the way of establishing a loving long lasting relationship. Macho behavior does not promote discussion nor does resolve problems. By dropping a macho front, true, safe and intimate conversation can develop, and a consensus can result that makes life better for both parties.
    3. Can someone have too little Machismo?
    What do you think those loser bucks do during spring? It’s not what the alpha-buck does. For the vast majority of people, women want a man for better or for worse. That’s just the way we are wired. Man is expected to naturally protect and provide for his woman and their family. When one doesn’t stand up for himself, someone will come and take his dreams. So, yes, there is such a thing as too little machismo.
    4. What evil do you see in the world that you would contribute to Machismo?
    I suppose if one was in a war, the violence that accompanies this environment could be more easily embraced with a macho attitude.
    If one worked for an amoral financial trading enterprise where success at any price was encouraged, then this would also be an environment where machismo could very well be a plus.
    5. What positive effects of Machismo do you see?
    Like most things in life, everything has its pluses and minuses. Machismo in proper measure can get you the things that you want in life with the strength to hold on to them.
    6. How can we minimize the negative effects of Machismo?
    Though the years we have seen many previously accepted behaviors become unacceptable, e.g. drinking and driving, smoking, spitting, etc. When someone exhibits unwanted macho behavior just say, “Hey, take that bone out of your nose and grow up!”



  6. johnpersico
    May 05, 2014 @ 14:55:46

    Reblogged this on Aging Capriciously and commented:

    I hope to have more people read this blog. It is one of the most important I think I have written.



    May 20, 2014 @ 13:14:55

    This design is incredible! You obviously know how to keep a reader amused.

    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well,
    almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job. I really enjoyed what
    you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!



  8. Dr. John Persico Jr.
    Oct 01, 2020 @ 08:26:16

    This is a comment about Trumps behavior at his debate or debacle with Biden. The author highlights the machismo behavior that is at the core of Trumps support.

    “It was an exercise in masculine dominance,” said CJ Pascoe, a professor at the University of Oregon and author of Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School. “Trump walked in and said, ‘The rules don’t apply to me. The moderator can’t tell me what to do. Biden can’t tell me what to do. Tradition can’t tell me what to do.’ … I think what Trump has been able to do is embody this sort of culturally valued form of masculinity that is authoritative. There are people who listen to him and find that sort of masculine charisma intoxicating regardless of the content that follows.”



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