Is there a difference with regard to the #MeToo movement as it applies to Latino men? Especially given that Latino men too have experienced the effects of marginalization?
Hollywood’s male dominated culture came crashing down when Ronan Farrow’s piece was published in New Yorker magazine. It detailed the systemic sexual abuses and harassment that legendary movie mogul Harvey Weinstein engaged in towards female actresses. The piece put front and center conversations surrounding the social constructs of power, control, influence, gender relations and inequities not only amongst Hollywood’s elite, but also in the American workplace. These conversations resurrected a movement – #MeToo – that was created years ago by activist, Tarana Burke. The #MeToo movement is redefining gender roles and how men treat and relate to women.
Back to the question. Is there a difference with regard to the #MeToo movement as it applies to Latino men? At the seat of a Latino man’s socialization is machismo – an exaggerated sense of masculine pride that is enveloped in aggression, power, control and sexual prowess. I am of the opinion that Latino men consciously move through our personal and professional lives believing that we are in fact superior to women. These thought and behaviors can manifest both physically and emotionally and are further perpetuated in the home. This further heightens the Latino man’s propensity to believe in skewed gender roles, i.e., men lead, women follow – men have the power, women possess the weakness.
To answer the question. I say a resounding no. If employing the true cultural definition of machismo, the Latino male has been given the tools and trained to sexually harass (of course I am not saying we all do). Because of this, the argument of relating to and being in alignment with the marginalization that women experience is boldly nullified.
However, because we too are members of a marginalized community this should propel us to want to stand shoulder to shoulder with women and the #MeToo movement in an act of solidarity and as a way to say to women that we see them and that they matter as they too move through white male privileged spaces.
Yet, given how entrenched marianismo is in our psyche, the work that we do to (re)frame gender roles for ourselves and to understand what constitutes sexual harassment – and how to not be a perpetuator – needs to be more intentional and studied. Being a member of a marginalized community does not free us from doing the work to understand and stand in the spaces that liberate other communities that are deeper in the margins.
In as much as the #MeToo movement was created as collective catharsis for women at the core of what the movement is saying is that men are the ones that need to do the work. Women must work towards healing and men towards an arc of education, mutual respect and understanding.
On a small scale, there are a few things we can do immediately that can help us move towards a more gender inclusive approach to how we move through our lives, particularly in the workplace.
Take advantage of the trainings being offered in your workplace on how to effectively co-exist and maneuver in the same spaces and places with the opposite sex. If your employer does not actively provide them, reach out to organizations like #ReThink. Their mission is to engage boys and men in order to break down the cultural norms that underpin rape and sexual assault.
When you know better you do better. Women are very invested in ensuring that men understand how they can grow their knowledge of gender relations and sexual harassment. Simply ask the women in your life that you trust the honest questions that you want answers too. This will help advance the movement.
Employers are required to have policies and procedures on sexual harassment. Dust them off and study them and empower yourself to understand the systems that are in place that when put into practice are there to protect you as well.
Shift the Narrative
What largely keeps perpetuating sexual violence and harassment towards women is men telling and/or passively participating in stories and jokes that strip women of their power. Shift the narrative by stopping the jokes dead in their tracks.