Machismo and How You Can Call It Out

Machismo. It’s a word that’s rarely used in my household, but one that I have felt and seen within the people around me. The word “Machismo” is a Spanish word used to describe excessive or very aggressive masculine pride. I have had my fair share of men who feel they are superior to me. I had a family member tell me that I was too bossy. It led to a discussion about how that was the problem with women: they were too “hard-headed." It never seemed to be a problem for them to say these things. In fact, they would get nods of agreement from others who shared the same beliefs. I am lucky enough to have male figures in my immediate family who do not perceive women as inferior and have rather influenced me to pursue my goals. 

In high school, I was friends with a boy who oftentimes belittled me and my goals. When I told him I wanted to be a teacher, he said it would be hard for me to keep control of a classroom because I was a woman and I had no real authority compared to a man. I was speechless and extremely upset. I was surprised that someone I had a deep appreciation for would say that to me. This went on for a bit. I was afraid of speaking up because of the idea that I would lose him as a friend. Instead, I would stay silent and even nod my head to show signs of comprehension. It escalated to the point where he would jokingly tell me that women belonged in the kitchen. Looking back, I wish I had said more. I wish I hadn’t stayed silent because that led him to believe that he was right, that he "spit some facts." It still angers me to think that it took me so long to distance myself from him and call him out. 

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Confronting people when they are making statements or comments that are “Machista” can be hard, but not impossible. Addressing individuals and their views can be perceived as challenging them, and that’s when things can turn into an argument. I have addressed these comments by acting as if I was confronting my own parents. I try to be respectful in order to gain leverage over the situation. I then address their comment and why it is problematic or has a problematic undertone. It often catches the individual off guard, but I keep explaining my side and why it’s offensive. If they try to rebut you, listen to their side. It’s hard to sit through, but it creates a healthy environment for you to keep the conversation going. Whether the person agrees with you or not, at least they will be enlightened on a new perspective. Do not be afraid to speak up— it is okay to defend yourself.