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Culture

Masculinity in Italian Culture

Photo Credit:  Joseph Pearson on Unsplash

Italian men are often regarded as being the sort of men who will value machismo more than men in lots of other cultures. However, it’s worth asking whether or not this is true even with the hardcore Italians. Men in many different cultures will say that they value machismo or being ‘manly,’ or whichever term people use.

However, what’s interesting is that the concept of machismo and what is manly will vary from culture to culture. In the United States, part of being manly is having a disregard for one’s appearance. The unkempt look is valued in American men. Men who put too much effort into their appearance are perceived as less masculine. Even feminists will often describe men like that as more feminine than men who don’t care about their appearance, even though most feminists will do so positively.

Vanity and a concern for one’s appearance are not considered distinct from machismo in many other cultures. Vanity is a strong tendency in Mexican men, and a large percentage of Mexican men also care about machismo. It’s similar for men in Italy. Italy is a leader in men’s fashion. Many Italian men won’t even go outside without clothing that has been tailored to fit them and to flatter them. Italian men will proudly wear colors that would be considered feminine in other cultures. They will also take pride in their appearance in a way that involves dress sense rather than spending lots of time in the gym.

Of course, if an American made fun of an Italian’s supposedly feminine clothes, he would probably react with indifference. In the United States, it is considered macho to react to a perceived insult with anger. Macho men feel compelled to angrily and even violently reclaim their masculinity during these moments. For macho Italian men, being indifferent and casual is considered manlier. American men should know that the Italian who shrugged off their casual insult wasn’t trying to pretend that it didn’t both him: it really didn’t, and he considers apathy to be manlier than anger.

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