September 29, 1995


It's no news to anyone that nice guys finish last. Almost every female I know has had the uncomfortable experience of going out with a "nice man". Spelled N-E-R-D. How many times has your girlfriend said, ' He's SO sweet and so cute so why don't I like him? Let's face it, when an attractive ALOOF(cool) man comes along, there are some of us who offer to shine his shoes with our underpants. If he has a mean streak, somehow this is "attractive." There are thousands of scientific concepts as to why this is so, and yes, yes, it's very sick --but none of this helps.

Lynda Barry, 1983

The literal meaning of the Spanish word "machismo" is maleness. That word has come into a bit of disrepute lately, and has come to be associated with brutality. That is not what the word means and, from a female point of view, machismo is what most women would like in their mates. It involves physical strength combined with a morality that would lead a man to protect his woman, even at the risk of his life. Since there are now more effective ways to protect a mate, children and the family, physical strength doesn't have the importance that it once had. These days, intelligence and energy are probably more important.

What I am saying is that machismo is still in style for men and femininity is still in style for women. By femininity, I don't mean the stuff that movie sex symbols are made of, but nurturance and caring, usually directed toward her husband and children.

The role of the male in a tribe of gorillas is to mate with the females and to protect them and their offspring. Therefore, the gorilla that gets to own the females is usually the strongest and most courageous of the males. At least he thinks that he owns them. The females may have different ideas.

It isn't that simple. As you ascend the intelligence scale, other factors assume greater importance. In man, the ability to protect a female and the family is associated more with wealth than physical strength. Wealth, in turn, often goes with intelligence and ambition.

Men, in turn, usually want a woman who will do a good job of raising their children. It helps if she is also a great bed partner. Some men figure that good bed partners are easier to get than a good lifetime companion and mother. When they try to have the best of both worlds, they sometimes lose both.

There is a delightful Alec Guiness film called Captain's Paradise, where a sea captain, who skippers a ship that goes from Gibraltar to a South American port, has two wives, one in each port. His proper English wife in Gibraltar cooks, sews and raises the children. His Latin wife loves to party. All goes swimmingly until.....no, I won't spoil it for you.

What constitutes desirable maleness varies with the culture. Along with the protection of women, in some cultures, comes the ownership of them. Anyone who tries to take her away becomes a mortal enemy. If she goes, she becomes a traitor and is worthy of being killed. In others, property rights are more associated with children and inheritance rather than sexual fidelity.

Latin cultures (the French excepted) often divide all of womankind into saints and whores. The men marry saints and lay whores. The saint who likes her sex might have to disguise it, or indulge in it clandestinely. It can be very very complicated -especially for a woman.

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