It’s time we start shifting away from a male-dominated mentality and into a more inclusive and realistic one.
The word machista means “a strong exaggerated sense of masculinity placing great value on physical courage, virility, domination of women, and aggressiveness.”
It’s a dangerous (and outdated) way of thinking that’s especially prevalent within the Latino community and Spanish history, probably because the word “macho” in the Spanish language is literally the descriptor of being male.
While many cultures struggle with toxic masculinity problems, Latino culture has been one of the slowest to change and adapt to modern times, when women don’t take a backseat to their husbands. I don’t know why this mentality has been so pervasive, although I wish I did. As a Latina, I still see it represented everywhere in my community.
By now, it’s fairly well-acknowledged among forward-thinking people that the machista mentality undermines everything women have worked for when it comes to gender equality.
But despite decades of work, the archetype of this male sentiment hasn’t fully disappeared, a la Donald Trump and many prominent men in Latino and American culture. It’s a big problem.
That’s why the hashtag #EsMachismo (which means “It’s machista” in Spanish) started trending on Twitter on Oct. 10, 2016.
It was sparked by this tweet by Liz Cardosa from Guatemala (who posts as “Analista Feminista,” which cleverly translates into “Feminist Analyst”). The tweet, written in Spanish, reads: “#ItsMachista — the idea that female bodies are for the pleasure of the male gaze.”
Other people, both men and women, quickly chimed in using this simple hashtag, too.
The purpose of the hashtag was to spark a discussion so people could vent about what the machismo mentality meant to them and why they wish it would change. I’ve translated 21 of them from Spanish to English below:
1. @nictechula: “#ItsMachismo to assume that women can’t work together in harmony.”
2. @marciluu: “#ItsMachismo that there are more men than women in government.”
3. @carvasar: “#ItsMachismo to deny an education for little girls in favor of their male siblings. That violates their human rights.”
4. @nictechula: “#ItsMachismo to think that sexual harassment on the street is acceptable conduct.”
5. @elplacer_de_ser: “#ItsMachismo to assume that every woman dreams of being a mother and a housewife.”
6. @carvasar: “#ItsMachismo to think that a woman’s place is in the home. And it should be a crime to force her to do that.”
7. @avilarenata: “#ItsMachismo to not hire young women because you consider their right to bear children a burden.”
8. @kmolinae: “#ItsMachismo to judge a woman for enjoying her sexuality.”
9. @galvez_ingridj: “#ItsMachismo when you’re told how to act, what to say, where to go and what you should do when you’re in a relationship.”
10. @JohnDavilM: “#ItsMachismo to deny access to sexual education, reproductive health and access to free contraceptives.”
11. @WRadioguate: “#ItsMachismo — From childhood on, moms teach sisters that they should tend to their brothers. That’s how machismo starts.”
12. @LizCardosa: “#ItsMachismo for a man to feel the right to ‘correct’ a woman.”
13. @Nora_PerezM: “#ItsMachismo to say that women victimize themselves over everything.”
14. @Ninitarios: “#ItsMachismo to refuse to wear a condom when you are sleeping with more than one person at a time.”
15. @Landsmoder: “#ItsMachismo when women are called unbearable or crazy when they get their period. The label of being ‘hysterical’ is misogynist and violent.”
16. @carvasar: “#ItsMachismo, as well, to assume that the entire financial obligation of the home falls exclusively on the man.”
17. @Anayancy: “#ItsMachismo — The pink ribbon. To have to pay more for thousands of products just because they’re ‘for women.'”
18. @GerardoHerro: “#ItsMachismo that men and women perpetuate the idea that men shouldn’t cry.”
19. @AliciaAlvarezGI: “#ItsMachismo for motherhood to be imposed upon you. If someone doesn’t want to have kids, so what?”
20. @Nora_PerezM: “#ItsMachismo to expect for him to pay for the check.”
21. @Polaris_GT: #ItsMachista to classify a woman with either Ms./Mrs. based on either her sexuality/motherhood/marriage status referring to her availability.”
A women should have as much say and as much power as a man. No more, no less.
The ideas of machista has hit even closer to home recently as we’ve heard Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s now-infamous “Access Hollywood” bombshell tape. It was machismo behavior to the umpteenth degree — off the charts to the point where I feel even a machista would be offended. And let me tell you: The idea that Trump’s words and the actions he boasted about are even offensive to a machista says a lot.
But as a new generation comes of age, young Latino people are standing up against toxic traditions, and things are starting to change.
This makes me proud, and these tweets from young Latinos are proof that someday, we’ll have the power to teach our children about what the machismo mentality used to be.
If we stand up against unhelpful traditions and we adapt, we might be able to talk about machista and toxic masculinity much like we talk about how women were once not able to vote or hold office: things of the past.