Source: Benatar, D. The Human Predicament (2017 1 edn). p. 206. Footnote 4 on p. 245.
Third, pessimism has sometimes been dismissed as a “macho” attitude. The idea is that the pessimist is saying, “I am tough enough to see the facts,”4 [see beneath] but “you optimists are weaklings.” This charge is tendentious. Calling an attitude macho is pejorative because it implies bravado, rather than courage or mere intellectual honesty. Thus, the question is whether pessimism can plausibly be described as displaying bravado. I do not think it can. After all, pessimism bemoans the terrible human predicament and is sensitive to the vast amounts of suffering in the world. Using the word “macho” to describe the view of sensitive lamenters sounds like a clear misapplication of the word. The word seems much more suitably applied to a view that pretends everything is just fine (when it is not), and a fortiori when it is applied to those who think that pessimists should stop whining.
[Footnote] 4. Susan Neiman (“On Morality in the 21st Century,” Philosophy Bites interview) said:
Pessimism is an attitude that may look brave… . There are certain people who propose it with a rather macho stance … [they say] “I’m tough enough to see the facts,” but it is actually a very cowardly way of dealing with the world because if you only think that things can get worse … then there is nothing to do but lie back in your armchair and shake your head at it, whereas if you think that there is some chance that human action could make the world just slightly better or even keep it from getting worse … you’re actually responsible then for doing some small bit of something in your own lifetime. So the idea that pessimism is somehow brave or honest is … a sleight of hand.
Her subject was pessimism about social progress. Nevertheless, it seems that if the imputation of toughness is appropriate in that case, it could not be withheld in the case of pessimism about the existential questions covered in this book.
What does the emboldened phrase intend to say? It feels deliberately phrased vaguely, possibly for tact. That toughness also ought be imputed to pessimism on the significance of death too (as life can be burdensome, if one judges life worthless and aimless)?