Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto honored Women’s Day this March by urging an assault against the machismo culture that generates violence against women.
Pena Nieto urged the eradication of “a deeply rooted machista culture (that) ultimately and truly generates violence against women” The New York Times reported in an April 24 article.
Mexico has celebrated male entitlement known as machismo in Hispanic soap operas, movies, work and romantic relationships.
“But times are changing for the Mexican macho man, or ‘machista,’” the article noted. “Soaring crime rates against women in recent years, and a strengthening women’s rights movement, have forced Mexicans to begin addressing machismo and the harm it does through sexism, misogyny and violence.”
A combination of law changes, advocacy groups pushing education, and major Mexican companies have joined the effort to aid Mexican men “learn new ways of relating to people, particularly women,” said a participant in a group therapy program sponsored by Gendes, a research and advocacy group in Mexico City.
Tecate, a popular Mexican beer brand, has launched a television campaign with a woman covered in bruises. “A man is defined by how he treats a woman. If you don’t respect women, Tecate is not for you,” says the voice-over of the commercial.
For the past decade, the Mexican Congress has worked to implement a legal framework at all levels of government to prevent, address and punish gender-based violence, reports the Times.
A number of advocacy groups seek to use group therapy to question and address the cultural beliefs that lie at the heart of machismo, said Antonio Vargas, director and founder of Gendes.
“It is not easy to renounce privilege (of machismo),” admits Vargas.
Reflecting on his efforts in one such program, a participant asked: “Is it actually possible to live without violence? I have to hope that it is.”
In 2016, San Quentin authorized the launch of a Spanish Victims Offender Education Group (VOEG) class, the brainchild of two incarcerated Mexican-Americans, Arnulfo T. Garcia (San Quentin News executive editor) and Jorge G. Heredia (San Quentin News Spanish interpreter).
VOEG is a program that puts offenders and victims of crime in dialogue so they can discuss the impact of crime on families and communities.
Jose Segura, sentenced to 15 years to life, credits his success to being found suitable for parole to what he learned in Spanish VOEG.
“When I committed my crime, I had a belief system called machismo. This belief system taught me to have a big ego, be tough, never ask for help, or let another man push you around,” Segura said. “VOEG helped me see and transform the rage inside of me. I learned that asking for help or expressing my emotions is acceptable. It’s not something that makes me weak.”