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LibreOrganize 0.6.0 - Documentation

Rafael Barajas Talks About Masculinity

from the March 20, 2024 Bulletin

Rafael Barajas Durán, also known by his pen name El Fisgón ("The Rubbernecker" or "The Peeper”), has penciled award-winning satirical political cartoons for decades, which appear regularly in La Jornada newspaper. A left-wing activist, he led campaigns to support the Zapatista Army of National Liberation uprising. He’s been leading Morena’s critically important educational initiative to achieve lasting change, Political Training for a Revolution in Consciousness.

For International Women’s Day, the online news source Common Sense (Sentido Común) interviewed El Fisgón in Spanish. Denys Vigil provided the translation, and we edited the interview for brevity. 

Sentido Común: In Mexico, we have contention about the machismo — hegemonic masculinity — embedded in our culture. How should that be understood from the left?


El Fisgón:  For one thing, we men have to understand that patriarchy also hurts us. It’s incredible how easily we men have reproduced patriarchal violence as if it were something natural, as if it were a dictate of nature.


You can’t explain the frequency of femicides apart from the sexist culture of machismo. It is the germ of all the femicides occurring in this country.

During various periods of our history, our national identity was connected with machismo. He who is not macho is not Mexican. He who is not macho is a traitor to the country. Being gay is a betrayal of men, and therefore, of the country and even of humanity. Our catalog of insults is deeply sexist: “son of a bad mother,” “homosexual,” “not man enough,” “cuckold.” All this has justified so much violence.

Politics? I’m convinced that in Mexico, this figure of the all-powerful political being who can afford all the luxuries and is permitted outbursts of anger and violence has to do with that sexist logic. It came to be considered normal for a congressman to carry a gun because he has political power, because he can. This sexist logic justifies the total submission not only of women but of all men who aren’t among the “alpha males.”

Now, how is this machismo reproduced? It gets passed from father to son — that is the chain that must be broken. A Mexican researcher, Karina García Reyes, conducted studies on machismo and drug trafficking. When interviewing 33 hitmen, 28 of them said that at some point they planned to harm or kill their father; all of them claimed that their fathers had violated their mothers.

Feminist artists filled Mexico City’s main square with red shoes to commemorate the country’s missing and murdered women in 2020.  Eyepix/NurPhoto via Getty Images

These men, who hated their fathers so much for the violence they committed against their mothers, in turn reproduced that violence themselves. That is, they had no idea of any other way of behaving. You have to understand that ending machismo is a cultural battle of the first order. And there is nothing more difficult than changing people's habits, customs, and traditions. 


The 4T is the only electoral political movement with a sector of organized feminists. What have they accomplished?


Obviously, a feminist sector exists both inside and outside Morena, but the feminist sector within has done a fantastic job. I’m struck by how feminist groups outside Morena deny the merits of this group. Sometimes it’s mentioned that it’s thanks to the outside feminist movement that abortion was decriminalized in several states. It’s ignored that the majority of those who promoted and voted for these initiatives were in the Morena feminist group.

Fernando Urias (left) and Victor Manuel Aguirre kiss after they learned they were allowed to marry. Alex Cossio/AP

Feminists and gay activists made same-sex marriage legal in all 32 states of the republic.  I think the feminist movement is a vanguard of the planet, and the Morena feminist movement is a vanguard of the country. What we men have to do is to support it — or at least not get in the way — and try to understand what our female comrades are doing, trust their leadership. It’s also up to us to unlearn our sexist logic, to understand how our behaviors are wrong, because everywhere, at every level, in one way or another, machismo ends up surfacing, and we have to take charge of that.

Morena’s project of Political Training for a Revolution in Consciousness has promoted an initiative — courses on “masculinities in transition.” Throughout history, we’ve never encountered a privileged group that agrees to give up their privileges, which is why most revolutions occurring on the planet have been violent. And yet today, we see an awareness in a new generation of young people who say: “What we are doing is wrong, let's review what we are doing.” 


More than three thousand colleagues have taken this course on “masculinities in transition,” and almost two thousand registered in the last registration. The first step to change is awareness that you want to change. Important transformations require a huge effort, and they don’t happen suddenly, but slowly. It will be a very complicated and probably painful process, full of contradictions, but we’re going to achieve it.

“For the good of all, the poor first?” as AMLO declared?


The poorest of the poor are women, so of course, the poorest first.


Morena’s first six-year term has brought progress on women’s rights and equality, despite people saying, “No, Andrés Manuel is not a feminist.” But before AMLO and Morena, we never had a cabinet with gender parity, and we never had a congress with parity. Do you think that happened naturally? Of course not, it has been the result of political will.

(L-R) Cabinet members Luisa Maria Alcalde, Rocio Nahle, Irma Sandoval, Olga Maria del Carmen Sanchez.

Photo: Facebook/Twitter/plumas libre

When we look at the quality of the civil servants in this administration, when we analyze who the best officials of the 4T are, you’ll see that the majority are women: Rocío Nahle, Raquel Buenrostro, Ernestina Godoy, Claudia Sheinbaum, Rosa Icela Rodríguez, and the female governors. One wonders how much talent we’ve lost because of machismo, how much intelligence we despise because of machismo.


That is to say, how stupid machismo is, how barbaric! The damage that patriarchy has done!