Every culture around the world believes in a higher power in on form or another. Buddhist revere Buddha, Muslims give praise to Allah, and Christians pay homage to Jesus. All these different religious sects perform various rituals, recite prayers, and follow rules designed to please and gain the favor of their god. For example, Muslims bow facing Mecca, their holy capital, at certain times during the day and pray to Allah, Buddhists burn incense and chant endless mantras. The same goes for the young males of the Nacirema culture. Their god, “Machismo”, is a god who values aggressive acts, sexual conquests, and above all, heterosexuality. The lives of the young Nacirema males revolve around pleasing their god. Through the use of rules, rituals, and prayer young Nacirema males strive to impress and gain the favor of their god.
Unlike in other cultures where intimate contact between males exist, such as the Italians and Hawaiians, who hug and kiss when they meet, Nacirema males often will only exchange a handshake and a formal greeting when meeting other males. Behaviors such as hugging and kissing are practices viewed as being feminine. Practicing these behaviors by young males may cause disfavor in the eyes of their Machismo. Handshakes may vary in manner, but the communication involved in them is universal. It is believed that the firmer your handshake is, the more of a man you are. The strength of your grip can promote either power or weakness. The grip is so important, that young males will often build momentum leading to the handshake by swinging their hands forcefully to meet the receiving palm. This often produces a large clapping sound, an aggressive act that also promotes strength.
It is very rare that young males hug in public, since hugs are also viewed as feminine by Machismo. While acceptable, hugs between males are expected to include several things. One, the hug must be preceded by a forceful handshake. Two, the hug must be accompanied by a strong slap or pounding on the recipients back. The large slapping/pounding sound pleases Machismo and provides some sort of aggressive male bond. Three, a hug cannot last less than three seconds and no more than five seconds. To do otherwise would either show disrespect or femininity and would displease their Machismo.
Sex and Genitalia
The young males of the culture often offer prayers and sing praises to Machismo. In an effort to obtain greater sexual prowess, young males often regale each other with stories of sexual conquests as offerings to their god. These stories are often greatly exaggerated or completely untrue. They do this to impress Machismo in hopes of gaining His favor.
Young males also will make outlandish claims of genitalia size in order to impress their Machismo. They do this in hopes that He will bestow upon them the gifts of “Long Schlong” and fertility. These “size” prayers are inevitably accompanied by the belittling of their peers’ own genitalia size. This too is done in hopes of impressing Machismo so that He might bestow His blessings upon them. However, for all the claims and belittling, it is startling to say that no young Nacirema male has ever seen another male’s genitalia. It is considered extremely taboo to view male genitalia other than your own. To do so would stain the male consciousness and cease the blessings of Machismo.
Public behavior of young Nacirema males also revolves around impressing Machismo. When frequenting social gatherings of the village, young males will travel in groups of three or larger. As was related to me by one native, three or more in a group is considered a “kru”. A “kru” is the most acceptable form of social relations for groups of young males. Traveling in a “kru” promotes unity, strength, and maleness. On the other hand, young men traveling in pairs are seen as being on a “dayt”. This behavior is reserved to the association between one male and one female. A “dayt” between two young males promotes femininity and weakness. A “dayt” between two young males is believed to cause displeasure and disgust to Machismo.
While traveling in a “kru”, young males do not travel nor rest near each other. This would violate the rules of intimate contact discussed earlier. In social settings, young males follow a golden commandment set forth by Machismo. According to a native, this rule is referred to as “The One-Seat Rule”. This rule simply states that young males may not rest in close proximity to each other. This rule holds true in all situations, such as seating in the house of moving pictures and on the mode of public transportation. This rule may be broken only in the direst of circumstances when no other options are available.
In situations where other young male’s genitalia are exposed, such as during their daily visits to the internal and external cleansing chambers, another golden commandment is followed. This holy rule simply states “Thou Shalt Not Look Down”. All young males have an intense understanding and belief in this commandment. As stated earlier, it is extremely taboo to view a penis other than your own. This commandment allows young males the freedom to expose their genitalia in the internal and external cleansing chambers without fear of other male members of the “kru” actually viewing the exposed genitalia. And, thereby affording them the security of knowing their shortcomings will not be broadcast to the female members of the society by members of the “kru”.
The young males of the Nacirema culture will go to many extremes in an effort to impress their god, Machismo. They have many rules, rituals, and prayers involved in their day to day lives, all designed to serve a specific purpose; these rules, rituals, and prayers serve to impress and gain the favor of Machismo.