The Death of Macho

The Death of Macho


Good thing someone in this blog‘s coming up with feminist content. =)

The era of male dominance is coming to an end.


For years, the world has been witnessing a quiet but monumental shift of power from men to women. Today, the Great Recession has turned what was an evolutionary shift into a revolutionary one. The consequence will be not only a mortal blow to the macho men’s club called finance capitalism that got the world into the current economic catastrophe; it will be a collective crisis for millions and millions of working men around the globe.

The death throes of macho are easy to find if you know where to look. Consider, to start, the almost unbelievably disproportionate impact that the current crisis is having on men—so much so that the recession is now known to some economists and the more plugged-in corners of the blogosphere as the “he-cession.” More than 80 percent of job losses in the United States since November have fallen on men, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the numbers are broadly similar in Europe, adding up to about 7 million more out-of-work men than before the recession just in the United States and Europe as economic sectors traditionally dominated by men (construction and heavy manufacturing) decline further and faster than those traditionally dominated by women (public-sector employment, healthcare, and education). All told, by the end of 2009, the global recession is expected to put as many as 28 million men out of work worldwide.

Things will only get worse for men as the recession adds to the pain globalization was already causing. Between 28 and 42 million more jobs in the United States are at risk for outsourcing, Princeton economist Alan Blinder estimates. Worse still, men are falling even further behind in acquiring the educational credentials necessary for success in the knowledge-based economies that will rule the post-recession world. Soon, there will be three female college graduates for every two males in the United States, and a similarly uneven outlook in the rest of the developed world.

Of course, macho is a state of mind, not just a question of employment status. And as men get hit harder in the he-cession, they’re even less well-equipped to deal with the profound and long-term psychic costs of job loss. According to the American Journal of Public Health, “the financial strain of unemployment” has significantly more consequences on the mental health of men than on that of women. In other words, be prepared for a lot of unhappy guys out there—with all the negative consequences that implies.

As the crisis unfolds, it will increasingly play out in the realm of power politics. Consider the electoral responses to this global catastrophe that are starting to take shape. When Iceland’s economy imploded, the country’s voters did what no country has done before: Not only did they throw out the all-male elite who oversaw the making of the crisis, they named the world’s first openly lesbian leader as their prime minister. It was, said Halla Tomasdottir, the female head of one of Iceland’s few remaining solvent banks, a perfectly reasonable response to the “penis competition” of male-dominated investment banking. “Ninety-nine percent went to the same school, they drive the same cars, they wear the same suits and they have the same attitudes. They got us into this situation—and they had a lot of fun doing it,” Tomasdottir complained to Der Spiegel. Soon after, tiny, debt-ridden Lithuania took a similar course, electing its first woman president: an experienced economist with a black belt in karate named Dalia Grybauskaite. On the day she won, Vilnius’s leading newspaper bannered this headline: “Lithuania has decided: The country is to be saved by a woman.”


  1. donkey said:

    I agree that this economic crisis have effects on men but I am not sure if it leads to the death of the macho state of mind, including exploitation. For instance, there is a question of informal economy that we cannot follow by statistics of the state since they are “informal” and unfortunately informal economy is known as female-dominant. ( although we may imagine informal economy as the resistance of the oppressed women in certain contexts.) Because of this economic crisis, the “developed” world increased their exploitation on women in the “developing” world in its simplest sense. There are women in Turkey working for TOYOTA at their home ( basically flexible mode of production is legalized) and while the economy is getting worse, the only thing they experienced is more poverty since the companies decreased the wages (if you can call them “wage”) and I know that this exploitation is much more prevalent in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

    Besides, I have always a question of mannification ( I don’t think there is a word like this, but I mean becoming mannish) in my mind. There was a woman who was elected as the minister of women in Turkey. She had definitely a macho mind-set, may be worse than men. So although Iceland and Lithuania may have a different context and these women may really have feminist approaches, the fact that they are women does not make them necessarily feminist. Moreover, it is questionable that one is lesbian and the other is an economist with a black belt in Karate. Strength is something attributed to men in today’s context so the society may easily find these women “as strong as” men. I do not want to attribute any essential features to men and women but I try to question if society perceives them as public leaders if they become more “feminine” in society’s eyes. I am not sure what I am criticizing but just a bundle of questions to find out if there is a real change from machistic to gender-sensitive environment at least.

    Just a final note, I always admire these feminist economists: J.K. Gibson-Graham
    and here is the link of their website:

  2. Maurice Politis said:

    @donkey Just my 2p on what I would at least thought of as moving from a machistic to gender-sensitive environment: There is nothing sexual in the image of “Machismo”. Moving to a “Feminine” society is just another way to say that we progress towards global humanism that transcends the gender, cultural and other divides. The very end of this road is an inter-dependent network of local communities that have more to gain from altruistic cooperation than from competition with each other for resources of all kinds. Add sustainability to the mix and you can get a glimpse of my personal utopia.

  3. donkey said:

    @maurice: Then we have a very similar utopia…

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