Writing about Argentina, V. S. Naipaul states that “for men so diminished there remains only machismo”

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In “Argentina: The Brothels Behind the Graveyard”, V. S. Naipaul writes:

“For men so diminished there remains only machismo. There is the machismo of the football field or the racing track. And there is machismo as simple stylishness: the police motorcyclist, for instance, goggled and gloved, weaving about at speed, siren going, clearing a path for the official car. But machismo is really about the conquest and humiliation of women. In the sterile society it is the victimization, by the simple, of the simpler. Women in Argentina are uneducated and have few rights; they are reared either for early marriage or for domestic service. Very few have money or the means of earning money. They are meant to be victims; and they accept their victim role.

Machismo makes no man stand out, because every man is assumed to be a macho. Sexual conquest is a duty. It has little to do with passion or even attraction; and conquests are not achieved through virility or any special skills. In a society so ruled by the idea of plunder, the macho’s attractions, from the top to the bottom of the money scale, are essentially economic. Clothes, reflecting the macho’s wealth or “class,” are an important sexual signal. So is the wallet. And the macho’s keys, symbols of property, have to be displayed. The symbolism is crude; but the society isn’t subtle. The bus driver, a small-time macho, hangs his two keys from his belt over his right hip; the right hip of the “executive” can be positively encased in metal, with the keys hanging from the belt by heavy metal loops. Money makes the macho. Machismo requires, and imposes, a widespread amateur prostitution; it is a society spewing on itself.”

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