Thanks to initiatives in favor of feminism today, women in many countries can benefit from a level playing field that would have been unthinkable decades ago.
However, masculinity continues to be deeply rooted in all kinds of cultures and societies, which means that many prejudices and ideas that lead to the underestimation of women still weigh heavily. In Western countries, open and traditionally publicly claimed masculinity has largely disappeared, but there is still one left: the neomachism and especially, people with neo-macho attitudes.
What is a neo-macho?
A neo-macho is, counted and debated, a person who believes in the inferiority of womenOr that they deserve the nickname “human beings” less than men, but that tries to disguise this system of ideas. In other words, the neo-machos more or less reproduce ideas related to masculinity, but reformulate certain budgets and arguments to make them more subtle.
Neo-masculinity, like masculinity, is not based on hatred of women, as it does where there is misogyny. It is simply based on contempt and defense of the idea that being a woman always means being of less value as a person with personal interests, motives and criteria. The neo-machos express these ideas indirectly, avoiding certain acts and phrases considered politically incorrect by the majority of the population.
Recommended Reading: “The Psychology of Sexism: 5 Sexist Ideas That Are Given Today”
Features of neomasculism
This is why recognizing a neo-macho is not as easy as doing the same with a clearly sexist person. However, that does not mean that it is not impossible to do so.
Here are some basic characteristics that the neo-macho can exhibit, not to criminalize those prone to fall into these attitudes, but to keep in mind that these ideas are still alive even if it may not seem simple.
1. Systematic condescension
One of the great paradoxes of neo-masculinity is that it can be expressed through an apparently advantageous treatment towards women. But this is not friendly treatment based on individual affection for a person who turns out to be a woman, but on the idea that women have the social status of children who, due to their immaturity, must to be protected and oriented towards his life.
In this sense, an attitude very present in neo-masculinity is to treat almost all women, in a systematic way, as if they are hardly more responsible for their life and their personal decisions than a boy or a girl.
2. The elegant defense of traditional values
The neo-machos do not explicitly defend the legitimacy of the power of men over women or the domination by force of the former over the latter, but if they can show desire for the traditional values on which this type of behavior was based decades ago. For example, they can show a romantic view of the lover who protects his girlfriend from dangers and at the same time controls her so that she does not become the possession of another man. The ideal of the pure woman who lives only for her partner can also be justified in a more or less veiled way, which implies that women who do not fit into this stereotype are impure.
It is a defense of traditional values that is attempted asocial with elegant and good manners, morally correct and “natural”. This way, the neomachist denies the possibility of questioning these ideas and beliefs by relying on a dogmatism based on what has been done for centuries.
3. Recurring comments on the physique of women
Neomachistas people, regardless of their gender, they tend to comment more on the physique of women than on the appearance of men.
These can be phrases that fall within the topic of an ongoing conversation or isolated comments, and they can be addressed to the woman you’re talking to or to other people. The fact is that from neo-masculinity, the appearance of women acquires special importance, being related to the reproductive value of women.
4. Constant references to the reproductive role of women
An important part of the work on gender studies and feminist anthropology emphasizes the link that exists in the West between women and the domestic environment. Traditionally, in European societies, the role of women has been confined to the domestic, while men, in addition to governing at home, have unlimited access to the public sphere of society. Thus, the idea has been put forward that if the male role is that of producer of goods and services which will provide for the family, the woman traditionally takes care of reproduction.
Thus, if the role of man cannot be reduced to just one of his attributes, that of the woman could be reduced to the parts of her body which play a direct role in reproduction and rearing.. Although in Western countries the sphere of women is no longer only domestic (the number of students and qualified professionals has increased considerably), the vestiges of this value system remain in the form of neo-masculinity where it is. taken for granted, for example, that every woman’s destiny is to be a mother, or when it is taken for granted that a woman’s professional or financial success is tied to her ability to attract men.
5. Permanent references to the feminine nature
Whether the differences between men and women are due to culture and education or genetic inheritance is a subject of intense debate in scientific circles and there is no clear answer. However, neo-machos will show a bias in favor of the position that all gender roles associated with femininity are produced by biological differences which cannot be avoided and which largely determine the behavior of both sexes, although that today this so radical and deterministic position has little or no basis.
Of course, the supposedly “natural” female behavior advocated by neo-masculinity is more related to submission and domestic chores and simpler than those of men, traditionally responsible for making the most important decisions and ruling over the rest of the family.
6. Criticisms of female leadership
To see women in high positions or in positions associated with great decision-making power does not correspond to the traditional feminine ideal. Therefore, people likely to fall into neo-masculinity they will show great sensitivity to mistakes or to the perceived negative characteristics that these women may show, As insignificant as they are.
The very fact of being a woman of high responsibility can be open to criticism if one understands that she only does her job “in order to be able to command”. This bias will not exist when it comes to valuing the work of male leaders.
7. Flowers are always welcome
From the conservative perspective of a neo-macho person, women always appreciate flowers if they are stylish and inspired enough.
Of course, this is not the case, because if it were true, it would significantly reduce the level of complexity of the female psyche. however, neo-masculinity puts more emphasis on how women’s mentalities can fit into stereotypes of femininity that the capacity of these people to think and to act freed from these bonds.
A separate note: critiques of feminism
There are political motivations that lead to attempts to link critiques of feminism (or even the use of words like “feminazi”) to masculinity.
However, this can only be grounded if, as feminism, we simply understand the claim that men and women are equal to human beings. humans. The problem, and what prevents someone who criticizes feminism from having to present the typical characteristics of someone with sexist ideas and beliefs, is that feminism should not cling to such a lax definitionespecially since it is understood that there is not a single feminism but several.
The new feminisms are a set of social movements and theories that fight for the recognition of women as human beings and / or for them to benefit from the same rights and possibilities as men. There is no common goal in these movements or one way to understand gender and gender inequality, and many feminisms have completely opposite points to each other. The only thing all new feminisms have in common is that:
1. They highlight the inadequacy of the basis for gender equality in the use of laws that do not discriminate against women.
2. They challenge the western system of traditional beliefs and values in terms of romantic relationships, marriage or gender roles. Part of the battle that new feminisms are waging is cultural.
People who reproduce neo-macho ways of thinking have reasons for trying to discredit all feminisms based on the second of the characteristics shared by all new feminisms, which is that which goes against the predominantly masculine idea. that women are predestined to play a subordinate role.
In these critiques, there will be no room for nuances of feminisms, and anything that can be related to feminism as a unit should be reported negativelyBecause as a set of political and social movements, it can threaten the traditional value system.
However, this point, as a defining characteristic of people who reproduce a neo-macho way of thinking and acting, has an important limitation: it is not easy to know whether the critiques of feminism as a whole rest on the second characteristic shared by them. currents of thought, or if they attack only the first.
Non-conservative and non-sexist people could make very elaborate and solid critiques based simply on the hypothesis of the extralimitation of new feminisms.
This small list of features does not identify people prone to neomasculinity in seconds.
Masculinity is not about repeating stereotypical phrases and actions, but it is expressed according to the specific context in which the person finds himself. Therefore, to see if these indicators correspond to someone’s behavior, it is necessary to take into account several factors and assess the existence of alternative explanations.
- Brescoll, VL (2012). Who speaks and why: gender, power and talk in organizations. Quarterly administrative sciences. 56 (4), pages 622 to 641.
- Molina Petit, C. (1994). Feminist dialectic of the Enlightenment. Barcelona: Anthropos.