The concept of machismo is strongly connected to Mexican national identity in that it emerged out of the struggle between middle- and working-class Mexicans and between Mexicans and their historical conquerors.
As such, machismo has tended to be looked upon as an intrinsic part of Mexican culture, an inevitable outcome of centuries of struggle between privileged and less privileged groups in society.
In 1940s Mexico, a slew of nationalistic films were made in which certain traits associated with machismo—violence, cunning, and the domination of women—were openly portrayed as patriotic values that all self-respecting Mexican males should embody. These films established in the popular mind an ideal of manhood virtually synonymous with being a patriotic Mexican.
In real life, however, in working-class neighborhoods, machismo became part of proletarian folklore in which men dominated and controlled women, but without the romantic heroism displayed on the silver screen.
Even so, machismo still remained—and largely remains to this day—a part of Mexican national identity, not least because, according to some sociologists and anthropologists, there exists a powerful inferiority complex in Mexican society that calls forth a hyper-aggressive assertiveness that is one of the elements most usually associated with machismo.