Machismo: TEFL Logue Friend Or Foe?

henry-muscles1.jpgWhat is machismo? If you are female, will you experience it abroad? Where? Where not?

All good questions that I can’t answer in full…but I’m curious to hear the experience and opinions of others.

After more than three years abroad and just a few frustrating situations…I have come to look at the concept of machismo as this: it is rarely overtly sexist or outright dismissive; often it just incorporates charming or at least not-so-offensive male behavior toward females – “helping” or doing what they “know is best.” Not to worry, this can be challenge enough to deal with!

I definitely experienced this traveling alone in Turkey. A teenage guy at the bus company literally picked up my bag and said “Come.” Perfect, I thought, I love this! Someone to show me where to go AND carry my bag. When I’m not lost or tired of carrying a heavy backpack though, this kind of behavior quickly loses its charm.

I have mentioned or perhaps demonstrated before that I might just be a bit stubborn. But when someone else has a good point…or is right and I’m wrong (yes, I know what you’re thinking, this is rare)…I can admit it. Or at least I don’t continue arguing just for the sake of not giving in…if I continue arguing it’s merely because I really, truly disagree.

I’ve had a couple of rather frustrating experiences, quite possibly exacerbated by my own stubborn and independent nature, where I really seem to butt heads with people who cannot acknowledge that someone else (well, me) actually has a point, especially when it would seem to simplify and improve things for everyone involved. I know, I know, part of it is me. And this is not always a cultural thing or even a male thing – but it is still, I think, a perfect example of machismo in action.

Example one: Imagine some bureaucracy drama. I ask if we can call the office, instead of (me) repeatedly going there in person. I’d do it in English but don’t want to say the wrong thing and make a mess. No. We (I) have to go in person. So we (I) go in person several times. Later, what do we do? We call to find out what we need. Could we have done that when I suggested it, a month ago? Not so much.

Example two: someone takes my computer to ensure it will be able to use a service I have essentially paid for…and while he has it, decides to do some other stuff. Granted, he knows what he’s doing and it’s probably good for the computer. However for a relative stranger to start changing things on my computer without letting me know or, well, asking in advance…another example of machismo.

I like to think I can keep things in perspective. I realize I may come across as irritated here; in a sense, I am. In the non-TEFL Logue portion of reality, though, I make an effort to pick my battles. I’m not out to conquer machismo…besides, if I did that, who would give me directions, carry my backpack and fix things for me?