Micromachismo” and why it’s not so micro

Micromachismo” and why it’s not so micro

Sabine Ocaña, WAS Junior

A term defining sexist male behavior, “machismo” or toxic masculinity, is a behavior predominant in Latin American males, but present in all cultures around the world. Believing that the male is superior to the female, men who are “Machistas” exert their believed superiority into every sector of life from economic, to education and relationships. By instilling this behavior in their children, the conduct becomes a standard and a normality that they are exposed to from a very young age. Subtle, overlooked, and just as damaging, “micromachismo” is another form of “machismo”, often dismissed, where although a male doesn’t adopt a fully “machista” persona, his remarks and behaviors still carry the same sexist connotation. Aggravating the situation, women have been taught to submit and overlook the sexism addressed towards them, which complements the sexist behaviors that society has normalized such as the pink and blue baby colors. To solve the situation, there needs to be a radical change in society, starting with schools and parents. To quote Simone de Beauvoir, “Pour les femmes ce qu’il y a atteindre c’est une émancipation totale, radicale, qui fassent réellement d’elle l’égal des hommes à part entière, et cette émancipation ne peut s'obtenir que par le travail” ("For women what is to be achieved is total, radical emancipation, which truly makes them equal to men, and this emancipation can only be achieved through work").

Oppressing women everywhere, men use “micromachismo” to dominate women in order to maintain superior positions. Violent, abusive and imposing, “micromachismos” are habits, actions and comments that men use to repress women and reaffirm their dominance. A word englobing four different categories, “micromachismo” is often overlooked as insignificant or normal behavior. To impose excessive work and tasks on a woman, utilitarian “machismo” consists of taking advantage of their domestic responsibilities and “feminine” capacities to keep them oppressed. To maintain their dominant advantage, men use covert “micromachismo” to psychologically abuse women, discouraging them from ever rebelling or pursuing their dreams, manipulating them through words to make them feel inferior. Similar to covert “micromachismo”, coercive “micromachismo” is the use of moral strength to limit womens liberty, thoughts, time, and capacity of decision. After the loss of a job or because of a physical limitation, women’s power in a relationship diminishes, increasing the power of the man through crisis “micromachismo”. Normalizing “machista” comments such as “You run like a girl”, “I washed the dishes for you”, and “It’s a guy thing” only aggravates gender inequality further. To solve the problem, women need to change their behavior as well, condemning those comments and ceasing to use them. Strong, courageous and resilient, women around the world are uniting and condemning sexist behavior to which they are being subjected. Denouncing oppressive men, Laura Bates, a British feminist writer, created a blog called “The Every Day Sexism Project”, which allowed women to post sexist encounters they have experienced. Creating a worldwide uprising, hashtags are spreading through social media, such as #MiPrimerAcoso created by the Colombian activist Catalina Ruiz Navarro, underlining the importance of women speaking against sexism, or #EsPorToda created by the Mexican political party Movimiento Ciudadano, calling for the unity of women in fighting for equality. A renowned American singer, Mark Anthony expresses the importance and the power of the woman, proclaiming that “one day she discovered that she was fierce, and strong, and full of fire, and that not even she could hold herself back because her passion burned brighter than her fears.”

Starting before birth, the development of “machismo” behavior begins with the parent’s prejudices. Covering a nursery in baby blue when one is expecting a boy might seem like an innocent task, but it couldn’t be more meaningful. When the sex of a baby is discovered, a color is assigned to them. Romantic and close to red, pink is associated with a baby girl since women are seen as more emotional, and by default blue is for a baby boy. Before the 1940’s, it was the other way around, and before that there were simply white, neutral clothes. Rapidly popularizing in the 19th century, pastel colored became associated with genders; blue was assigned to girls because it was said to be a daintier color and pink was assigned to boys since it was seen as a stronger color. Assigning color to each gender, not only establishes that there can only be two genders, but it also enforces roles they must adhere and fit into as they grow up. From a young age, parents adopt a different behavior and different expectations based on the sex of the baby, which feeds into the inequalities in society. To give trucks to girls and dolls to boys is not the solution, both rationalize differently, but giving Legos to girls to encourage their creative and mathematical aspects, or giving a pet to a boy to encourage his nurturing and caring characters is a way to start. Solving gender inequalities isn’t only in the hands of the parents, teachers encouraging mathematical success in girls or creative behavior in boys is just as important; demystifying gender colors is a necessary step to achieve gender equity. One step at a time, change will be achieved, and the first step is to accept that "No son dos sexos superiores o inferiores el uno al otro; son distintos'' ("They are not two sexes superior or inferior to each other; they are different") - Gregorio Marañón, Spanish doctor and writer. 

Reaching billions of people, the film industry is a key player in the diffusion of sexist behavior, enabling “machista” attitudes. Despite numerous improvements in the past years, the film industry continues to represent women in a derogatory manner, adding to the widespread sexist views. Showing that the presence of women on the screen is considerably less than men, a recent study by Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, showed that in all films released between 2006 and 2009, a mere 29.2 percent of roles were women and the other monumental 70.8 percent were men. Even though movies are increasingly portraying strong female leads, such as Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger games, women still embody weakness and sensibility, often needing or being overshined by men. Being objects of masculine prejudice, coming from an often-male director, women are often cast to play a devoted mother or a highly sexualized persona. A highly distorted representation of reality, the image of women in movies and television is supporting everyday sexisms and stereotypes. In the James Bond series, while he is represented as a charismatic, cunning and strong secret agent, the women who play alongside him are simply sexual objects there to entertain him and unable to resist him, never bringing any valuable skill and spending most of their time in bikinis or in other highly sexualizing outfits. The second biggest media conglomerate in the world, Disney is a significant actor in the demeaning representation of women. Delicate, sensible and helpless princesses, such as Cinderella and Ariel, have one sole purpose: to find a prince to fill their lives. Often rescuing the “damsel in distress”, this “Prince Charming” helps represent the woman as weak and being at the mercy of the men. Starting long before production, sexism in film starts with the scripts and writers. Concretely exemplifying a sexist script, the character descriptions of the television series West Wing describe a female employee at the white house, Donatella Moss, as “25 and sexy without trying too hard, DONNA is devoted to Josh.”. Prejudicing the role of the character with a simple description, the female image is contrasted with her male boss, Josh, who is described as “a youthful 38, JOSH is Deputy Chief of Staff and a highly regarded brain.” Negatively portraying women in advertisements, sexism doesn't stop in film. To portray women, different stereotypes are often used including the “domestic obsessive”, a woman who usually spends her time cleaning, the “sex object”, usually half naked or in a bikini, and the “bit part”, who is a background character solely there to support the man and to provide diversity. Destabilizing women watching the ads, characterizing women in these categories creates a negative culture for children who retain a distorted view of what the woman’s role should be through these ads. Diminishing women to simple servants or sexual objects, these ads promote the negative treatment of women. To diminish and eliminate any inequalities and prejudice towards women, it is necessary to change the way women are portrayed on screens everywhere, and to create powerful female leads. As the powerful Emma Watson said, “We need to live in a culture that values and respects and looks ups and idolizes women as much as men.” 

Embedded within our cultures, society has created sexist stereotypes for both women and men. Creating a degenerate culture, women are often characterized as more fragile and caring, having to take care of the chores at home, being too serious, being feisty or bossy, being bitchy, emotional, hormonal, or just being moody because we are on “those days”. Opposing the female image, males are required to be strong not only physically but emotionally to be considered men. To be socially accepted, they cannot cry, or express emotion, fearing that they will be seen as weak. Praising their exploits and achievements, society has put them in a superior position than women, praising a man where a woman will be called a slut. After getting home from work, waiting to be served by their wives, who have also been working harder for the same administrative position, they are called manly. With the same ease and mindlessness, men will be called ambitious, charming, leaders, passionate, instead of derogatory words used to describe women, but will also be the object to remarks such as “cry baby” and ‘girl'' when any sign of emotion is shown. Derogatory, misogynistic and sexist, these insults are only the surface of the sexism and toxic masculinity that are at the root of our society. Creating an environment where neither gender can be themselves, mankind has forever condemned and trapped men and women to the stereotypes associated with them. A word wrongly attributed, “micromachismos” are “subtle and imperceptible maneuvers and strategies for exercising male dominance power in everyday life, which threaten female autonomy to varying degrees”, but are in no way micro just as their effects on women. Although not a sexual violence or “feminicidio”, dismissive comments frequently considered jokes such as “you should smile more” or “boy don’t cry” are enablers for a sexist culture, bringing down women and attacking them verbally. Adopting the behavior from their parents and fathers, children continue the circle of never-ending sexism, where not every man is a harasser, but every woman has been harassed. Just as children are influenced by their parents’ behavior, parents, especially fathers, are being pushed and pressured to act a certain way to act manly. Replacing it with “cold authority at best and at worst with outright destructiveness”, the absence of a father in nurturing children becomes increasingly common. Victims of a long-lasting negative effect, children being exposed to this toxic fatherhood are more likely to then turn to violence or be socially ill. Taking many forms, the worst way of being absent includes being “emotional remoteness or turning to violence as a means of being present.” Starting at the core of every home, inequalities, violence, abuse, and toxic masculinity are not isolated insignificant events in society, but are rooted in deep long-lasting behavior and values that have taken root and are instilled since birth. Solving this problem requires a complete change in society’s views, thinking and behavior, to quote the famous Albert Einstein “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” 

Sabine Ocaña es WAS Junior  y Estudiante del último curso de Bachiller en Rochambeau, The French International School Washington, EEUU.

 

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