How to deal with machismo in South America

One of the human stereotypes you can meet in South America is the macho man. Most men in South America think of themselves as being entitled to everything, women included, which is the core concept of machismo.

The definition of machismo is someone who has an exaggerated sense of masculinity and wants to control everyone. In other words, an alpha male, who thinks he has to dominate his territory and everything on that territory.

One of the first things you notice in South America, as a traveling female, is the general belief that women have no rights and they have to be controlled and looked for by strong, macho men. In South America, women are mothers, cooks and caregivers, who have to be available for men 24/7.

During my trips in Chile and Mexico I saw many men who were verbally or even physically abusing women on the streets. They were without doubt their husbands or boyfriends.

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It can be scary to witness such abuses, but if you want to discover South America, you need to be prepared for them. Another thing you have to be prepared are cat calls. Men will do everything they can to draw your attention, no matter how you look. They will call you even if you are wearing baggy clothes and your unwashed hair is tied in a bun.

I was never afraid of cat calls, but in Chile a man tried to grab my bum. This really scared me and it showed me some men will go to any extreme to get what they want.

How to say no to a macho

Men will cat call you in the day, but when the night falls, they will go further. Of course, most people will also be under alcohol influence, which can make everything worse. All the men I met in South America have no understanding of “no”. They simply think “no” means “I am hard to get”. So they try harder, they might even become violent, in order to “conquer” you.

To make yourself understood you have to be really determined when you refuse their sexual advances. Many men will call you names when you will refuse them; others will try to put you in your place with a slap. After all, a Latino man can’t be refused by a woman, especially a gringa.

If you can, avoid such dangerous situations, because no one will save you from an abusive man, not even police.

Despite the fact most Latino men will attempt to conquer you regardless what you wear, it’s best not to provoke them by wearing sexy clothes. Avoid tight fitting dresses, shorts and anything too revealing.

I rarely go to clubs, but when I do I am always careful who is near me. Avoid drinking too much and refuse drinks from people you don’t know. There are many people who try to drug women in clubs – not only in South America, but everywhere!

If a man asks you to go home with him, refuse. Again, this is something you should do everywhere. You will meet men who ask you to go home with them all over the world, in any club. To stay safe, refuse them. They are strangers, you have no idea who they are and what they want, not to mention where they want to take you.

Not all Latino men are macho, not all behave like this. I had the chance to meet only macho men in South America, but I am still sure there are also nice men out there. Also, if you are a man, don’t believe you are safe from machismo! The locals are quick to defend their territory, so make sure you don’t do anything to put yourself in danger, like trying to make out with a Latina without her (or her brother’s) consent.

All in one, adapt to the local rules and keep your wits about you at all times.

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