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The Term Machismo and History of Bullfighting

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Bullfighting has a very long history. Evidence of it’s existence dates back to 2000 BC in Crete, where a mural depicting a woman and a man avoiding a bull in an arena was found. It was also common in ancient Rome, but it is most known for its fuller development in the Iberian Peninsula. This is the historic region that later became Spain. When the Moors came from North Africa and conquered Spain in 711 AD, it changed from a spectacle of violence to a ritualized form. At this time, it had still not became the dance it today. The Moors would fight the bull in groups on horseback. However, as time passed the men in capes, who worked with the horsemen to strategically place the bulls in an opportune position, eventually received more attention than the horsemen themselves. They become the sole participants in form of dance with the bull. In the 18th century the estoque and muleta (sword and worsted cape) were introduced in the final rounds of the fight. Eventually, the bull is killed in what is termed as the “moment of truth”. This is where the matador lunges over the bull, and stabs downward in between the shoulder blades to pierce the aorta region. This strike is designed to kill the bull as quickly as possible in these circumstances. Many do argue, that this is inhumane. What is interesting about this assumption, is that these bulls are able to live longer, and in a much more pleasant environment that their counterparts in the slaughterhouse. The only possible argument with those facts in mind, is that the killing of animals for food is also inhumane. In that case, yes bullfighting would be humane. However, this is only true if the individual who is making the judgement is a strict vegan.

The term “machismo” dates back to ancient Spain and Portugal. It was used to define the ideal role of male in society; that of which was to provide sustenance and protection for their families. Throughout history we see many variations of these ideal. Christian ideals about marriage are nearly identical. These ideal spawned out of a necessity for the cohesive family unit, with clearly defined roles for the member to ensure its survival. Morals, philosophies and religion all have this same origin. They are a form of cultural adaptation, something only humans are capable of, to meet the requirements of the harsh environment they exist in and produce offspring. This is why marriage is so important to tribalism. Without marriage in a desert plane where life is very difficult and resources are scarce, caring for children is not possible. A man had to care for his family, as did a women in a concerted effort, otherwise both they woud die or not have children that will live.

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In the 1960-1970’s, feminists used the term “machismo” to articulate the dominance of the female by way of the patriarchy. In the post-industrial revolution era, what was necessary for survival no longer was advantageous for humans in their environment. As we see changing environments throughout history, we see cultural adaptations that follow to suit that environment. In this case, women had become as important as men in the workforce which was no longer simply a fight against nature for survival, in which the man was required to have a specific role for his physical attributes. The issue was that the cultural adaptation took too long to occur. Feminism was a method for accelerating this adaption, so females could bear all the rights the once lionized male carried. Many still find contention with a male having the sense of obligation to provide for his family and protect them. I believe, the idea is that women may no longer need this, which is certainly true with the advent of modern technology. Technology has equalized a once gender specific environment into something that any human can adapt to given the right amount ingenuity. Cultural artifacts still exists from these earlier times and “machismo” is one of them.

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