From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Machismo is a prominently exhibited or excessive masculinity. As an attitude, machismo ranges from a personal sense of virility to a more extreme masculism. In many cultures, machismo is acceptable and even expected.
- The peacock's tail, the grotesquely enlarged claw of the male fiddler crab and the machismo of members of the human species are all exaggerated features that may cause injury to individuals that display them but attract females.--Staal, Noam Chomsky Between the Human and Natural Sciences, Janus Head (2001)
In American literature, a memorable example of machismo comes from Tennessee Williams' character Stanley Kowalski, the egotistical brother-in-law in A Streetcar Named Desire. In the play (and in the motion picture), Stanley epitomises the hyper-masculine alpha male, socially and physically dominating and imposing his will upon his wife and her sister, Blanche Dubois. Bound up with Stanley's aggressive and occasionally misogynist views is a strong sense of pride and honor which leads to his hatred of Blanche.
A cognate of the English word exists in Spanish, but the two should not be confused. Spanish machismo means "sexism" or "male chauvinism" (along with the adjective machista, "sexist" or "male chauvinist"). The same happens in Portuguese.