Tennessee Williams/Elia Kazan’s “Streetcar Named Desire” (1951) – Representation Of Macho-sissies As A Human Type (Personified By Stanley Kowalski Impersonated By Marlon Brando)


When Stanley’s wife Stella was in the hospital giving birth, he (a decorated army veteran) was “courting” Blanche (Stella’s sister) – courting for Stanley meant putting himself in the proper mood to rape. Left alone with Blanche Stanley (Marlon Brando) quickly and not without a certain resourcefulness improvised a funny theatrical number – “artistically” masked and by this made even more articulate the act of masturbation. As “metaphors” he used a bottle of beer with gushing foam. Besides being extremely insulting to Blanche, Stanley’s short pantomime was a hymn to his tremendousness and irresistibility as a male and was a prelude for physically (“naturalistically” and sadistically) raping Blanche. Machoism needs megalomaniacal and dominating self-assertion to cover up a deeply rooted inferiority complex typical for macho-sissies.


The composition of this shot suggests that embrace we see in this shot is not really Stanley’s embrace of Stella and is not a mutual embrace. It is Stella’s embrace of him. Stanley here is the sexual object, not she and not both of them. Stella is consoling him like a mother – a child, and she’s taking pleasure from doing so. The camera is not showing his hands at all, but her embracing hands are centralized, as if magnified. Embrace of Stanley by Stella is motherly, not feminine gesture – Stanley needs her like emotionally dependent, not equal person. And it is through being dependent, he, as a psychological compensation, manipulates her, like some crying children are pressing mother to buy them a toy they want.


Stanley feels insulted and even abandoned because Stella doesn’t unconditionally accept his crude and loutish behavior. The macho-sissy wants to be treated by women as a prince while insisting on his right to behave as a roughneck.


As a typical macho-man Stanley is a sissy – without being supported by a woman’s unconditional and worshipful love he cannot exist, like a soldier can psychologically die without dreaming about admiring applauds for his heroism or his great self-sacrificial act. When a macho-sissy happens to be with people dissimilar from him in background, life style and worldview, like foreigners, opponents, rivals, etc. (who by their very existence provoke his inferiority complex), he can become emotionally disturbed. To feel well he needs to be in the company of people with similar behavioral patterns, ideas and tastes. He is hypersensitive to the issue of being respected and appreciated or not and then he is prone to sulk and sometimes become hostile and aggressive.

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If man tends to be easily insulted or has moods and tantrums it can be an indicator of his sissy-machoistic tendencies. The inability to discuss disagreements without feeling rage or impulse to verbally attacks the opponents and proclivity to “love” firearms – can be signs of macho-sissy-ness in a seemingly regular people. Tendency to readily or even with characteristic excitement to participate in clashes, fights or wars is the basic characteristic of machoistic sissies who are inclined to be recruited to the military forces because they try very hard to prove that they are not sissies. For these people the scandal, clash, fight, beating someone up or shooting is a relief from stress of self-restriction which regular peaceful life in a civilized society demands. One of the unconscious reasons why macho-sissies “love military community” is that they’re happy to surrender their will and mind to the commanders and transform themselves into marionettes following the despotic orders of their superiors. With them our macho-sissies feel themselves protected, relaxed, excited. They make the common mistake of implying that their readiness to kill and be killed is a proof that they are not sissies. They like to believe that machoism is contrary to sissy-ness, but in reality machoism is (machoistic) mask of their sissy-ness. To feel pride for being part of the army means to feel protected by the army – “enemy is strong but we are stronger”, “we are together, we are many”, and “our country is the strongest among countries, and it’s always behind us”, take these beliefs from the machoism and what we’ll find is the very substrate of sissy-ness. These not too flattering ideas about macho-sissies in military uniform they themselves cannot attribute to themselves – they don’t know what really motivates them (military force doesn’t exist for studying psychoanalysis).

Sissy machos prefer to get rid of the smell of otherness, because they’re afraid of alive, living dissimilarity. If really courageous people are able to tolerate and appreciate those who disagree with them or just being different, and are able to discuss with them their dissimilar existential experiences – sissy machos prefer not to be even exposed to contradictions and otherness against which they use psychological armor – suspiciousness and hate. Real courage and bravery doesn’t need guns or dogmas against those who disagree with them. Real courage is exactly being able to peacefully withstand disagreements about important issues and analyze, soften and dissolve them peacefully. To maintain peace with somebody who disagrees with us is a sign of confidence and internal power. Machos are so cowardly that they can live peacefully only with dead or intimidated opponents.

Machoistic sissies are in panic that disagreement, opposition or resentment on part of others will kill them, that people with another ideas about life will destroy them and their world – it is for this reason they feel that they must destroy others first. The fear of otherness as if it is a nuclear weapon pointed at them makes the sissy-machos to want to use nuclear weapon first, “preventively”. Dissimilar ways of life frighten them so much that they need the most destructive weapon to put an end to the presence of other/dissimilar people. They cannot be peaceful because they are afraid exactly the peace – they’re afraid that peace makes those, who are different from “us”, more dangerous with each hour of peace. In this sense the cowardice of macho-sissies is really extraordinary. They’re not afraid of war, but they are afraid of peace. They’re not afraid of death, but they are afraid of life. They’re not afraid of nuclear holocaust, but they are afraid of peaceful negotiations (not supported by menaces, pressures and bribery). This is what it means to be macho-sissies. Their sissy-ness is fear of life (because life includes otherness). Their machoism is a psychological armor on their living. Sissy-ness turns machoism automatically inside the instinctive depths of these people’s souls.

While sissy behavior inside life destroys democracy as a joy of life, machoistic behavior in the kingdom of murder – war or homicide, destroys life itself. To be able to enjoy democracy means not to be a sissy, it is really a courage and valor. The more human weaponry becomes mass-murderous and the more technological greed becomes human nature-destructive – the most obvious it becomes that to be able to enjoy and sustain peace, life and democracy means not to be sissy and not to be macho.

Sissy-ness and machoism – two extremes created by human psyche frightened by death, corrupted by weaponry and money, and mentally sick because of the absurd belief in immortality, in unlimited wealth, in totalitarian unity and group “exceptionalism” (that today is only a synonym of the perverse “right” to dominate others). Sissy-ness and machoism – two extreme weaknesses, which are so weak that they’re combined as an ultimate human psychological vice endangering human nature, human history and destiny of humanity and its “younger brothers”.

Posted on March 8 2012 –   Elia Kazan/Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” (1951) As An Unintended American Dystopia – From Streetcar As A Metaphor of Blanche’s Sublime Desire to Streetcar-Stanley (Focus On American Intellectual Film-Classics) by Acting-Out Politics