Machos in Rehab

This article was originally published in Spanish on October 18, 2017, written by Catalina Ruiz-Navarro. Due to its relevance, Defying Gender Roles translated into English. Thanks to our supporter Sarah Dickins for the translation.
Over the last few days, a global debate has emerged on the ever-present sexual harassment that we women experience daily. It all began with an article in The New York Times which denounced, in disgusting detail, the Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein for decades of sexual harassment and abuse. As actresses began to report their cases of harassment, women from all over the world and from all walks of life began to tell stories which lead to one painful conclusion: all of us have been harassed at some point in our lives. This was the resounding cry of the hashtag #MeToo, or #YoTambién in Spanish.
As with the hashtag #MiPrimerAcoso, in English #MyFirstHarassment, we arose to social media full of stories which provoked solidarity in women and surprise in men: “What? The world is like this? The same world to which I belong, in which I walk and navigate without a care?” Yes. But this surprise is almost irrelevant when compared with the ugly truth: if all women have been harassed, and if the overwhelming majority has been harassed by men, it means that there is a significant percentage of men – men that are our friends, boyfriends, husbands, brothers – that harass. It’s that simple.
This is not a recent realisation. It’s that we’ve kept silent for a long time so that you, the men that harass us, don’t feel uncomfortable. It’s that usually it’s us, the harassed women that have to contend with and, sometimes literally, clean up the mess of that inconvenience. This truth about harassment, which all women carry, has been silent for generations. The ugly truths of men are not said out loud: that is the pact of patriarchy.
I know, I know, and now it turns out that you are all well-meaning. But don’t get distracted, women should not now go running to comfort you as if we were your mummies. Don’t protest innocence: this is not about you, it is about us shouting the truth. And he who has not harassed anyone, either consciously or otherwise, has at least seen harassment and done nothing, and has laughed sardonically at those bad taste, misogynistic jokes. Because don’t forget that a good part of masculinity, as we know it, is based on diminishing, dehumanising and objectifying women. That’s why men-only WhatsApp group chats fill their phones with porn. Part of the performance of masculinity is ganging together to diminish women.
Unless these women are your wives, sisters or mothers. You leave those women, those extensions of your ego, in peace. But not because you are prepared to change yourselves, to change a culture which celebrates and promotes rape, but rather because you believe your male authority will protect the women around you. I have news for you: it won’t.
Because, now that you’re waking up to the problem, asking yourselves what to do, you can begin with self-criticism. With accepting that, here, all of us here are machos (and machas) and are in rehab for a disease called machismo and that fucks women over in many ways and even kills us. And the second thing you can do is be critical of the men around you, because you are perfectly capable of treating women like people. It’s not very difficult, because women are, in fact, people. You can also listen to us beyond your feelings of guilt, we are being serious: we are tired of harassment and you have been the perpetrators. Our lives would be enormously improved, in all aspects, if you stop making us feel diminished and harassed.