In the synopsis of How to raise non-sexist children (Vergara), the book by Liora Gomel and Ariel Dorfman, the authors say that they are a couple and that they actively participate in the raising of their children. Professionals linked to the world of communication, head the Found in Diversity foundation, specializing in communication with a rights approach. After many years of work in schools and companies, both concluded that homes are a key space where sexist conceptions are built and reproduced. Therefore, they decided to write a book with reflections, advice and strategies for families.
Is Machista born or made?
Ariel Dorfman: Definitely, you learn and teach: that is why we trust that all this is happening, that we are doing organizations and people, will transform and transform us, to strengthen the gender and equality perspective in each place where it continues being necessary to enable nuances, diversities … there is no element in our genetics, in our blood and even in our genital organs that determines what we can do, think, say, what spaces we can occupy and which we can not. Machismo is not something of women or men but it has to do with power relations, link building and problem solving where, as we have been seeing in the media this summer, violence is the protagonist.
How are boys and girls instilled in machismo? Could you give me some examples?
Liora Gomel: In every example of everyday life where they are always the ones who serve the food and they don’t even get up, or when they get together with their friends and they always stay with the kids, when they always use them at recess the patio and they always remain quiet chatting, when we tell them that the men do not cry and when we ask them to always be impeccable and beautiful. When they deploy and they retract, when they explore and they only imagine, when there are only two options.
How does this affect the social, school and cultural environment?
AD: As machismo and discrimination are learned, the environment, culture and school are responsible for reproducing (or not) this way of thinking that some are better and deserve more than others. When society, family and school cease to be a community, to work together to make things fairer and for everyone to take place, we lose each one of us. Machismo is a contingent (it is like that but it could have been otherwise), therefore if we hold inertia and do nothing, say nothing, choose nothing, everything will continue as it is now: macho. We are in a moment where we begin to see, we still have to build the alternative, but we already have some examples.
How does machismo manifest in the youngest?
LG: As in the larger ones: to pineapples, without dialogue, leaving out, thinking better than others, individually and not collectively …
What happens when what parents say (against machismo) contradicts what they do?
AD: There is a relationship between saying and doing, if one proposes a speech and in practice does not carry any of that forward, it is clear that children learn much more from what they see than from what we tell them; The more shared the relationship between saying and doing, a reinforcement of learning is achieved, but our daughters and sons live in society and will see other models and other links … and for that there is also preparation.
Why is it important to instill from a young age this kind of values away from the hegemonic macho model?
LG: We are thinking of raising children that respect diversity and equality among all people, these are values that are learned easier for everyone. Because it is an alternative to live better in an unfair world, because it is better to feel respected than humiliated, because it is safer that everyone eats, is not cold and can go to the doctor if they feel bad. Because all of us are others.
I imagine that from the book they will have had contact with parents. What are the most frequent concerns or concerns about this topic?
AD: The first thing is the recognition that there are different models of families, and that not being part of what is expected by machismo in any of its forms has a cost, a cost that is simpler or easier to face and sometimes even irrelevant, If we do it in community. Many families shared their experiences from pain, bullying, obstetric violence, non-acceptance of the family of origin. Others shared their findings, their strategies, their fears and in most cases we share that hegemony is not necessarily the best. That breaking the inertia requires energy and as we said it is always better to do everything together
What happens with adolescence? Is it more complicated to “deprogram them”?
LG: Very often we can see how young people break gender or theme taboos linked to sexual diversity, but also, many times without realizing it, reinforce discrimination discourses on issues of size or national origin. Any generalization is a mistake: even the one we just said. A trick? Every time we affirm that all x are y, we are falling into the ravine of discrimination: all teenagers, women, men, etc … That is why every person also has the opportunity at every moment of his life to review speeches, practices and mandates, and to transform those statements into words and actions that do not segregate or exclude. We are on both sides of the counter: we discriminate and we are discriminated against. We learned it and we taught it. And it will continue that way until we check, until we check. Adolescence is in favor of the wealth of questions we ask ourselves, the times we have to listen, talk and face difficult issues. The adults we accompany have to be careful not to favor that the rains of reflections become only rains of slogans.
A non-macho boy, what kind of adult could he become?
AD: An adult who is truly great: responsible for others, who chooses dialogue and trust, who cares and can feel taken care of. Look for other ways to solve the problems that get out of the car and crap or talk badly the woman who is now your boss. Understand that way of linking where respect and warmth build a true alternative and as Lohana Berkins said, that the fight is not for victory but even tenderness, always.