So what exactly is macho? What was it, and what did it mean? Most importantly, what does it mean now?
It started as a way to identify a “manly” man. A macho guy was above all, testosterone filled. He could grow luxurious chest and facial hair. (I will be doing a post tomorrow specifically on mullets and mutton chops, so be ready!) He was strong and tough. He maybe got in fights. He pretty much had a constant, woman-pleasing erection.
The macho man lived hard. He drank. Maybe he smoked. He probably had, as we’ve mentioned, a manual labor-type job. He did something where he was outside all day, getting tan. He probably had squint lines around his eyes and tan lines, in fact. Since he was usually shirtless outside, though, he didn’t have a farmer tan…his chest was bronzed. Only below the waist were the tan lines visible.
He hung in out real bars, not discos. He listened to rock or real country music, the kind about drinkin’ and cryin’ and going to jail and hopping trains with their lonesome whistles in the clear, starry night. He felt those lyrics deeply, but he would never discuss such feelings.
He played football on the weekends if he was the active type. If not maybe he worked on his car or watched sports on TV. He did not play soccer or golf. Maybe he fished, but only if the fishing involved copious amounts of beer. Maybe he and his fishing buddies camped out and cooked their catches for dinner, too. Manly cooking, which involved rocks, cast iron, and fire, and did not involve aprons or reducing anything.
The macho man was tender but gruff with his woman. He saw women as something to have fun with, but he respected women as well. And woe betide the man who did not, because the macho man was happy to let his fists do the talking if need be. He wanted a wife. He wanted children. He expected to support them and he did not shirk from the thought or the reality of his reponsibilities.
Somehwere along the line, this concept became bastardized. The macho man, instead of being desirable, became first an overblown caricature (big blow-dried hairdos, tons of gold chains, you know what I’m talking about). It became an excuse for men to behave abominably.
As a result, it became a derisive insult. The macho man, instead of being someone who did his best, became a neanderthal. A man who wouldn’t let his woman live her life, who expected foot massages every night and sex every other night and didn’t care what she wanted. As with so many other good concepts, people took the base but not the subtleties, and “macho” became synonymous for “sexist jerk”.
I think this is a terrible shame. I think men have been turned into wimps. I think the modern man tends to be a little sad, a little needy, more than a little insecure.
And the men who are attemtping machismo are going to the very worst extremes, referring to women as bitches and hos and impregnating them willy-nilly.
All because this man, the macho man, who used to set an example for young men and who used to give young women something real to expect from the men in their lives, has disappeared.
Maybe if we bring him back in fiction…and women start looking for him again…we can bring him back in life?