A couple of days ago, my friend, Chris, and I were talking about the construction industry. I had recently learned that our friend, Paul Sullivan, Founder of Company of Dads, had been interviewed on the “Mothers in Construction” podcast. An interesting podcast niche. Chris had spent most of his work life in the industry and I wanted his take on women in construction. He shared that he felt good construction workers had to be “macho.” Hmmm…macho? What does macho mean to you, Chris? Macho means tough, hardworking, one who fights through the pain he said. I, on the other hand, think about macho more in terms of the Oxford definition: “having or characterized by qualities considered manly, especially when manifested in an assertive, self-conscious, or dominating way. Having a strong or exaggerated sense of power or the right to dominate.” The word macho also brings up for me the image of the Macho Man, Randy Savage, a professional wrestler from my youth. Neither the definition nor Randy Savage is a particularly positive image of a man. So, I was curious about Chris’ perspective. Did he consider a good female construction worker to be macho? I wondered if I had this all wrong? Could macho be something to strive for?
From the Spanish, “macho” has taken on various cultural connotations. For the most part, I think the traditional macho image can lead men to feel pressured to conform to unhealthy (for everyone including himself!) gender expectations. Striving to be macho can encourage a man to be aggressive, domineering, and aloof towards others. Not cool. Perpetuates all that bad male energy that our society is always talking about. But what if we turn our attention to Chris ‘view? What if macho is about the positive qualities of confidence, assertiveness, and toughness expressed in a positive and respectful manner, and not in a way that is oppressive or harmful to others? We have a whole new ball game, right?
Amanda Serrano is a boxing world champion having won titles in seven weight classes. Her record is 44-2-1 with 30 knockouts, she is one of the best in women’s boxing. I was thinking about an article I had read about Serrano as Chris, and I had our conversation. I read that after a recent loss, Serrano resumed an old training regimen of sparring with men. While maybe a regular thing in boxing, I thought it was pretty badass. Pretty macho. I wonder if Amanda would like to be considered macho. Would the Mothers in Construction?
What do you think, ladies? It bugs me that traits typically associated with traditional masculinity, such as strength, determination, and toughness (and more!) are considered primarily in the male realm. I have two daughters and a son, and I want them all to be determined, tough and confident (macho?!). 🤷♂️ In a male-dominated industry like construction, if a female construction worker demonstrates skill, competence, and toughness in her work, why wouldn’t she be macho?
So, Chris, can a female construction worker be macho? Chris answered with a story of about a friend’s daughter that constructs oil rigs. She is tough, hard-working, and fearless. Or muy, muy macho.