Machismo and Its Effect on Men's Mental Health

Machismo and Its Effect on Men's Mental Health

By Men's Health Clinic

In a previous blog post, we talked about how different types of social pressure can have a negative effect on a man’s mental health as he grows up. Today, we’re putting the spotlight on one aspect of social pressure – machismo. What exactly is machismo and how can it affect a man to the point of sexual dysfunction? Read on to find out. 

Machismo and the Ideal Man 

The term “machismo” came from the Spanish word “macho,” which means manly or masculine. It is a cultural concept that puts an emphasis on different traits that make for an ideal man. Machismo encourages men to be physically more capable, take control, and take a more proactive approach when dealing with different things. 

Unfortunately, machismo has also been equated to certain traits that are considered toxic. Treating women as property, suppressing emotions to appear more stoic, and even being aggressive towards others to attain personal goals are also linked to machismo. 

With that out of the way, let’s go into how different aspects of machismo can take a toll on a man’s mental health. 

Physical Attractiveness 

Machismo implies that the ideal man has an “ideal” physique. In most cultures, this involves having well-developed muscles, and the ability to accomplish many physical tasks with ease. For example, a buff guy who can lift heavy weights is considered better than a lanky man struggling to lift even smaller dumbbells. 

Looks are just as important when it comes to machismo, but what’s generally considered “ideal” can wildly vary. For example, looking like a rough or burly lumberjack is considered manly, just like having a classy and stoic look of a gentleman. 

Regardless of the local societal standards, it’s easy to understand why the physical aspect of machismo can put pressure on someone whose abilities and looks fall outside what is considered ideal. Some men will feel like they are unattractive and weak, which often lead to a sense of helplessness and depression. 

Authority and Control 

Machismo dictates that men are creatures of authority. A man who owns a booming business or work at a high managerial position is considered manly. Domination is the name of the game when it comes to machismo. A man that makes the room submit to him when he puts his foot down is taken more seriously than someone who just gives way to everything and everyone. 

Because authority is linked to having a sense of control, machismo also affects a man’s interaction with his spouse. Machismo dictates that the man is the head of the family so he must have a bigger income than his partner. That said, he also must have the final say on matters such as family finances. 

A man heavily subscribed to machismo can have a very fragile view of himself. If he is overtaken from a job position (especially by a woman), he will likely have the impression that he is not good enough to achieve anything. This is also the reason why a man might feel inadequate or emasculated if their spouse earns more money than them. 


Being brave and confident is a major aspect of machismo. The manliest of men are not afraid of anything, being able to take on difficult challenges and opponents. A man full of bravado looks more dependable in the eyes of other people, making them more attractive. 

In a rather ironic twist, bravado can also compensate for what men lack in the other two major aspects of machismo. For example, someone who isn’t conventionally handsome can still be confident enough in his other good points, so he won’t feel bad about it. 

However, misplaced bravado can be very destructive. Because machismo dictates that he should be brave, a man might think that showing any signs of insecurity or weakness is bad. This may lead him to suffer from the consequences of suppressing his own emotions. Bravado can also cause a man to be overly aggressive towards others to appear more authoritative. At worst, these pent-up negative emotions and feelings would be directed towards his partner or other loved ones. 

Positive Masculinity, not Machismo 

Subscribing to machismo and the concept of being the ideal man is bad for one’s mental health, but it doesn’t mean that one should do the opposite of what machismo is about. After all, it’s still good for a man to be physically fit, able to fill in a position of authority, and have the courage to rise to the challenge. 

Instead of machismo, a man should strive towards having positive masculinity. He should have this mindset that his faults or shortcomings do not define his manhood. At the same time, he should also be accepting of the fact that he can work on improving his weak points to be a greater person. Instead of thinking “faults,” a man should think “improvement opportunities.” 


Machismo had always dictated how men should behave, leading men to have toxic views on masculinity and taking a toll on their mental health. It’s about time that men break free from the clutches of this outdated concept and learn to embrace security in one’s own masculinity. 

If you are struggling with mental health issues as a man, do not hesitate to seek help from a professional for therapy and professional advice. If your issues have somehow affected your sexual performance, feel free to contact us so we can schedule a consultation. 

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