On March 8, 2018, in the middle of a rage, my father sent me a WhatsApp, “I’m so proud of what you’re doing.” In that plural – “you are” – I saw everyone who went on strike or tried that day, who came out on the streets, who faced that historic day with enthusiasm, courage or with the fact that life. I’ve never seen her so willing to talk about feminism before.
Meanwhile, during those months, in an amazing coincidence, several friends and acquaintances received messages from men with whom they had romantic relationships. All of them included an apology for how they had behaved: the situations were varied, the common denominator being that they acknowledged the unacceptable behavior or comments. Already in 2019, in the middle of a rally, I bumped into an old colleague who had been removed from Facebook because of his sexist comments. He approached me and said: What do you think, I have understood many things and I am here.
The feminist wave seemed to serve one purpose: to challenge the male population. There were signs everywhere, personally, politically, publicly. Political parties were looking for a way to establish themselves. The leaders themselves talked more about care, reconciliation, feminism, parity, they chose feminine terms and took paternity leave. Political scientists, sociologists or economists have launched initiatives to avoid attending events or gatherings where experts were not present. Many men reflected on their own behavior for the first time, they were aware of their partners’ interruptions in meetings, their emotional absence or feminine objectivity, which they repeatedly put forward.
What is left of all this? “There was this explosion of the feminist movement, of demands, of strikes… all of that kind of made us wonder where to start. That explosion turned into a slower, quieter movement, but yes, I have a feeling that it gradually penetrated many layers of men, than we might think at first glance,” reflects Octavio Salazar, professor of constitutional law and activist for the new masculinizations. The author of books such as John Wayne, You’re in Heaven (La moderna) is optimistic: after the explosion, he feels a kind of chirmir, which falls almost like an imperceptible rain and It drives change.
The feeling on this side is not always the same. Perhaps because after 8M and #MeToo came the backlash against #MeToo in the form of the far right, hard-won consensus, and the threat of anti-feminist discourses, even in sectors that were, in principle, more progressive. A kind of “you’ve gone too far” that we sometimes feel accused of. Back to the tortilla, in which, suddenly, men seem to be the new victims and we are the ruthless butchers who harass, cancel and demand too much.
It is possible that this reaction will cover the chirimir that has been soaked. Octavio Salazar continues: “More space opens up for reflection and debate, to explore issues that until five or six years old we would have thought it impossible to ask ourselves and that revolve around ways of sexual violence or co-responsibility.” Backlash doesn’t help, and neither does noise in feminism. The struggle seems to have monopolized the public discourse, at least the most visible part of feminism and also the conversation on the networks.
Historian and gender studies doctor Ivan Gombel believes that although the extreme right uses the discourse of male weakness to charge against feminism and polarize the discourse, the conflicts within the movement have not helped to maintain a masculine allegiance. “It was easier for men to participate in feminism when on the outside it was a more unified movement and a clearer doctrine of how to behave. When it becomes a more complicated movement publicly, it creates more conflict with many men participating, which. They don’t know where they go and they often get conflicting messages about what is and isn’t feminist,” she explains. Groups and emotional bonds are much less intense, there is no structure of participation; this also explains why there may be greater participation in a given moment, but it is not sustained over time.”
Economist Daniel Fuentes was one of the promoters of the “No Without Women” manifesto, in which dozens of experts pledged not to participate in all-male events. “That’s out of 8 million. Unless we clearly do something, this will not change. If we complain and then we are the ones who call our colleagues in our conferences, we continue to do the same thing,” Fuentes admitted at the time. After five years, the engagement seems to have dwindled. Once the list of signatories is reviewed, it is not difficult to find names that subsequently participated in spaces where the experts were not.
I talk to Fuentes, who admits to taking time off and wonders why. “2018 is a before and after for many men. It’s about raising awareness as a result of your mobilization. My experience is that, despite some reluctance, the reaction in the professional and academic community has been genuine,” he says. As for the reason for the break, he points to two reasons: a sense of less public attention and an “anger and militancy” in the movement that has pushed many back. “Those who entered slowly retreated. And the most confident put themselves in ‘sleep’ mode to see if the rain would pass,” he says.
I ask both Fuentes and Gombel: Does feminist anger justify many men’s disinterest or lack of commitment? Can it really help someone take a step back when we need them more than ever? “I think the weight that feminism and #MeToo has gained has made it very difficult for many men to support those demands. For many, this was a favorable context to join, and when it stopped, they no longer mirrored or retreated into the private. It remains one of the great weaknesses of feminist or egalitarian men. I see this all the time in seminars. We know the pyramid of violence, but it is still very difficult to navigate through our own experience. But I believe. that there is a certain consistency and continuity of reflection,” explains Gombel. For his part, Fuentes acknowledges that the relaxation may be partly due to some comfort, but stresses that many have genuine beliefs.
I think that’s what often bothers me: seeing the costs that so many women have paid for their feminist commitment and feeling that there aren’t many men willing to meet them, even if they believe in the cause. But as Gombel and Salazar say, beyond each of their individual transformations, men must also express their discourses in a “more political and collective” way. “To be more strategic in proposing a pedagogy of equality in which we feel responsible and questioning and not nervous about what feminist progress entails,” says Octavio Salazar.
The truth is that we still need those WhatsApp messages, we need a repair or, better, that we don’t need a repair. We need you to listen and, like the colleague I never imagined in the feminist march, to reflect. We still need commitment and pulse. Yes, it is not easy. Not even for us.
Source: El Diario