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Masculinities: a more positive, diverse and comprehensive manner of being male.

Masculinities: a more positive, diverse and comprehensive manner of being male.

access_timeAugust 13, 2016 09:57 pm

Oswaldo Montoya, a Nicaraguan psychologist and directive in the Global Network for Masculinities, MenEngage, was present in Paraguay training representatives of the public and private sector and the academia about the importance of a new and comprehensive vision of being male.

Masculinities are a liberating proposition for men, far from male chauvinism, patriarchy and heteronormativity which undermine people’s health, provoke violent situation and toxic and destructive relationships. In a local level the goal is to establish a National Network for Masculinities which reinforce good practices towards a country without discrimination of any type, without violence and LGBTphobia.

What do you mean when you talk about masculinities in plural?

We mean that there are many ways and experiences of being male thus there can not exist an homogeneous description of being male. There are many manners of living masculinity. Being male as a gender depends of many variants as social class, nationality, education, sexual orientation, ethnicity, so many variants which affect living and being male. That’s what we refer when talking about masculinities.

How do male chauvinism and heteronormativity affect men today?

In the first place, they do not allow us to have healthy and equal relationship with the rest of the people: women and other men. Male chauvinism and patriarchy make us want to stand out, dominate and control others. This definitely causes us problems, conflicts, violent situations, it undermines our health and we can easily run into situations as accidents, aggressions, drug abuse. Male chauvinism is a disaster for the man himself and not to mention his surroundings.

Is this relate to a greater suicide rate in men than in women?

Absolutely. Men, in the male chauvinistic model, have great difficulty to ask for help, recognize their vulnerability and thus they keep it inside until there is a moment they do not know what to do with that pain and depression and they take the regrettable decision of ending their lives. 


How can the concept of masculinities be combined with feminism?

Feminism has allowed men the possibility of reformulating what is to be male. Feminism is a very liberating proposition for men, it proposes to consider other ways of being male and other masculinities that are not patriarchal and chauvinist. There is a very important contribution from feminism to a new way of living as male.

What are some alternative models to the dominant, violent and controlling man?

There are no single models. We have to promote multiple models and multiple manners of transcending that patriarchal model and allow men to be humans without the obsession of adjusting to a specific model of being males.

A very interesting proposition for me is one that many authors talk about: a comprehensive masculinity in which we, men, can reconcile with femininity and integrate it. Men must have the human right to tenderness, vulnerability, intimate spaces, care and affection. All these have been seen as exclusive to women and therefore unacceptable to men. The comprehensive masculinity talks about incorporating that dimension denied to men as a manner to establish relationships of equality and equity.

Why should men be involved in the struggle for gender equality and against LGBTphobia?

In the first place because it is the right thing to do. It is fair to be involved in order to transform historical patterns of discrimination, oppression of women, gay, lesbian people, etc. Furthermore, it is in our interest as men because it is a manner of living with greater freedom because we live in company of women: family, friends, daughters, partners. We have a very deep connection with women. It is also for the benefit of the economic well-being of our families and communities. There are motivations everywhere.

When you talk about freedom, does it mean men experience oppression?

Of course. There is a terrible cultural and institutional pressure to adjust us men to the stereotyped model of being male characterized by violence, domination, control, ownership of economic power, rejection of femininity, compulsory heterosexuality. All those elements make us men live constantly pressed to demonstrate our masculinity under the patriarch model.

How can we deconstruct male chauvinism to achieve a greater equality between men and women and a region without LGBTphobia?

In the first place, we have to build a secure space so men can reflect about issues because in daily life there are not many opportunities to do so. Everybody has the appearance of having everything solved, that one is a true man, without problems, but in the privacy of one’s home one lives with a lot of pain and confusion. We must build a space for reflection. We must dare to question what culture, mass media and schools have taught us. That is step number one. Next, we need a space to meet others, because one can have an individual process but you need others, men and women, to work, have courage and support. Then we can propose changes, attempt new relationships and practices and build group support spaces and networks.

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Norma Flores Allende

Redactora, SOMOSGAY.