As an outsider, Mexican culture at first appears to be dominated by men… and it is, in the outward and visible areas of business, government & leadership. The idea of machismo is alive and well. But what does it really mean to be a “macho man“?
Looking in a little closer, Mexican women seem to be behind the scenes dominating the culture, but certainly not “officially.” For example, the mother figure in Mexico seems as if it is something almost holy, like the Virgin of Guadalupe. In fact, Mother’s Day in May is one of the most celebrated and important holidays in Mexico.
So what is machismo and its relationship with women? I’ve observed that from the time they are born, many Mexican men are doted upon by their mothers. And it doesn’t seem to stop when they get older. Often, when I’m on public transportation I’ll see an older lady with a younger man who are embracing very closely and I’ll wonder, ‘Is that a May/December Romance, or is it just a mother and son on their way home?’
Many men in Mexico live with and rely on their mothers until very late in life, sometimes even after they get married. While a part of that phenomenon is cultural (the American idea of “moving out when you turn 18” just isn’t the same here), and part of it is understandably related to financial or economic reasons, and yet sometimes it seems that it could be partly due to the reluctance to sever full dependence on mom. I will make the disclaimer that I’m certain that this doesn’t happen with all mother/son relationships in Mexico, it’s just something that I’ve observed quite a lot.
So, with all that in mind, machismo doesn’t seem to be very macho at all. When I think of the word machismo, the image of a peacock showing off all its plumage comes to mind. It’s all show. After the show, the peacock tucks in it’s feathers and runs home to mom.