The magnificent machismo

by Lindsey Masters

Although we might assume an area that follows traditional customs might also cling to traditional gender roles, the opposite is becoming more common.

The past way of thinking in Mexico involves the “machismo” philosophy. Older men typically suffer from this affliction, characterized by an elevated ego level, and tendencies to display their superiority over the female gender.

This lifestyle allows the man to degrade his wife and other women. It is also permissible, not to mention normal, for a “macho” to have several mistresses. Even more shocking is that their wives know and even expect this type of behavior to occur.

The woman’s “marianismo” character supports the “machismo” role. She represents a submissive, oppressed woman whose role is enhanced by her husband’s duty to worsen her condition (by way of “machismo” exploits). But that’s the glamour of it all; she becomes a better woman because she suffers.

This philosophy is basically nonexistent (only the older men have the tendency), but maybe you could compare it to the “Leave it to Beaver” era in the U.S.

We adopted gender roles that said a woman’s place was in the home. Her job was to cook, clean, and take care of the children. The man never faltered from his traditional role of the breadwinner. He took out the garbage, but never did the dishes. He played football with his son on Sunday afternoon, but never played dolls with his daughter.

And isn’t it odd that after so many years, these roles are still somewhat in place? The woman not only has a full-time job now, but also makes the meals, cleans the house, AND watches over the kids.

Yes, there are always exceptions to every rule, but how many multi-tasking guys can you honestly say make dinner, do the dishes, and simultaneously feed and change Little Junior? And continue to do the routine everyday?

Because the “machismo” man has virtually disappeared, there is a change in parenting roles. Fathers are more involved in the lives of their children. They take them to school, or pick them up from soccer practice.

You see fatherchild pairs in the mall, at the park, on the bus. Even newspaper and street advertisements are geared specifically towards fathers or soon-to-be fathers. Centers offer anger management classes or courses that teach parenting skills.

So weren’t we ALL taught at some point that it’s polite to share? Why shouldn’t that timeless rule also apply to parenting responsibilities and gender roles?