As femicides continue to soar in the country and surrounding region, deeply-entrenched machismo in Mexico is being kicked to the curb in a new way: through counseling sessions for men who harbor misogynist behaviors and attitudes.
For Jorge, who in a recent spat with his wife struck her face, leaving her with a bloody nose, the sessions are a semblance of hope to undo years of internalizing violent misogyny.
“I had to do something,” Jorge said in an interview with The New York Times. “I felt curious to know if it was something I could actually change and if I could learn new ways of relating to people, particularly women.”
Ruben Guzmán, a Gendes counselor, told the Times the goal of the sessions is “letting go of the person you were taught to be.”
The free therapy is offered three times a week, and seeks to bust the beliefs that lie at the heart of machismo, said Antonio Vargas, director and founder of Gendes.
Jorge explained that the root of his misogyny was growing up in a low-income neighborhood on the outskirts of Mexico City, where violence was used to deal with any frustrations.
“It was a place where if you weren’t violent with others, you were a victim of it,” he said. “But I don’t want my little boy to become a little machista, or my daughter to think the only way of solving things is through violence.”
Gloria Careaga, a professor in gender studies at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, told the Times that as gender roles have begun to shift, men have not found new ways of relating to women. That tension has led to increased sexual and physical violence against women.
“Men here have not been taught any alternative ways of being a man in this country,” Careaga explained.
While last year, Mexico saw the first nationally coordinated demonstration against machismo and violence against women, femicides more than doubled between 2007 and 2015, from 1,086 to 2,555, according to The National Citizens Femicide Observatory.