Patriarchy has two characteristics that make it especially difficult to eradicate: one is that it is disseminated throughout the social structure and the other is that it adapts to social changes. Each advance in equality between women and men goes hand in hand with the adaptation of macho behavior. We experience a transformation of the culture of machismo continuously.
The sexist behavior in Spain in the last century is very different from the current one because today there is equality in the legislation that has made visible the discrimination of women for being women, which is a social problem and that there is also a social commitment to eradicate it, but that even today continues to exist in the youngest minds and this is what worries us. When the progress of a society must be reflected in how human rights are respected, in how they have evolved to ensure that all the people who are part of that community can have the same opportunities and exercise the same rights, what is happening in ours , so that to this day there continues to be discriminatory behavior of men for being men towards women for being women. We are talking about a structural problem that involves us all.
What went through the head of that 19-year-old who murdered his ex-girlfriend in Murcia a few days ago? What is there based on the thought or attitude towards the women of the Rayo Vallecano coach when he urged a gang rape? The media bring us these cases, but they are neither isolated cases nor exceptions.
When we ask young people to think about all the inequalities that women face on a daily basis: what happens is any and the explanation is because they do not believe that there is inequality and they do not believe that sexist violence exists because they are so socially integrated that they simply do not see it.
Here are at least three issues to consider with the above in mind:
one, the sophistry of equality or the idea that equality has already been achieved is keeping us from getting it. Feeding the idea that equality is already a fact thanks to the appearance of laws that promote it, or thinking that thanks to these laws women are in a better situation than men, keeps us from understanding that there is still work to be done. This brings us to the second problem.
two, the machismo has its strongest roots in everyday life and men don’t see it. When Pamela Palenciano reminds us that “Beatings don’t just hurt”, what she is trying to tell us is that sexist violence does not manifest itself exclusively in physical aggression. There are other forms of violence: offensive, degrading language, disrepute, little or no representation of women in the public sphere or in debate, inequality in care tasks, unequal use of public resources
The two previous problems are supported by another third problem: the masculine corporatism (conscious or unconscious) that leads to ignore, trivialize or trivialize gender inequality when it is revealed.
Education is the best tool we have, but it is not about intervening exclusively with women, but also with men so that they feel part of the solution. As long as sexist violence is understood as isolated cases, we will continue to be far from tackling the problem, it is essential to look at everyday life and promote reflection in order to make sexist behavior visible and propose effective solutions. As a society, we need men not to remain on the sidelines and to engage in an ethical exercise in their relationship with the women around them in their daily lives and to learn to identify what those privileges granted from birth are, because once they go out to the light we will be able between all of us to be able to eradicate them.
This is what the Spanish League of Education and Popular Culture has tried to do with the participatory action-research that we present: put young men and women between the ages of 14 and 25 in dialogue to talk about the most everyday machismo and that they they felt challenged in the solution. The result has been reflected in a guide that can be downloaded here.
Hopefully, with initiatives like ours from EQUILIBRES and other research and actions that other entities are developing, they will contribute to reducing sexist attitudes among our young people in order to advance, together, towards the real equality that our society needs.