Machismo is a prominently exhibited or excessive masculinity. As an attitude, machismo ranges from a personal sense of virility to a more extreme masculism. In many cultures, machismo is acceptable and even expected.
The trait may be seen as the product of runaway evolution, as Frits Staal notes,
The peacock's tail, the grotesquely enlarged claw of the male fiddler crab and the machismo of members of the human species are all exaggerated features that may cause injury to individuals that display them but attract females.
In American literature, a memorable example of machismo comes from Tennessee Williams' character Stanley Kowalski, the egotistical brother-in-law in A Streetcar Named Desire. In the play (and in the motion picture), Stanley epitomises the hyper-masculine alpha male, socially and physically dominating and imposing his will upon his wife and her sister, Blanche Dubois. Bound up with Stanley's aggressive and occasionally misogynist views is a strong sense of pride and honor which leads to his hatred of Blanche.
In the play "A View from the Bridge" by Arthur Miller, one of the main characters Eddie is a classic type who displays machismo. He wants to be the best out of the men who he is among and when beaten, becomes very quiet.
The English word "machismo" originates in an identical Spanish word, which however has a somewhat different meaning. Spanish machismo refers exclusively to the belief in the superiority of males over females, that is it means "sexism" or "male chauvinism" (along with the Spanish adjective machista, "sexist" or "male chauvinist"). Machismo itself derives from macho, a latin word taken from Galician, meaning "male [animal]" or, when used metaphorically, "masculine" or "very masculine".
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