A macho man is like an alcoholic

Article published in OmVärlden
21 November 2016
By Álex Ayala Ugarte

Bolivia. Javier Badani Ruz, 41, grew up in a traditional family and was raised with macho ideas of what a man is supposed to be like. A new job and the birth of his daughters changed everything. But taking off the macho mask is like living like a sober alcoholic, he tells journalist Álex Ayala Ugarte.

“A macho man, to me, is like an alcoholic: He can recover but only if he is capable of becoming aware of his illness. For many years, I had macho traits, and it was like it was in my genes. My dad was a Don Juan his entire life. My mother comes from a very traditional family and took care of everything when I was little: She tidied my room, gave me breakfast in bed, ironed my clothes and really spoiled me.

When I met up with my friends for a drink, we’d always shout vulgar comments as soon as a woman walked past. When men socialise with other men, they often act like a pack of dogs stalking their prey: Everyone goes along with it. But the positive aspect was that I realised that my attitude was awful. And today, when I look at my daughters I feel a pressing need to fight against this. It’s my duty to fight chauvinistic behaviour in my society.

I think the real change came when I started working for Hivos, a dutch organisation that works with topics related to empower women, and also with things like sex work and reproductive rights. Thanks to Hivos I started reading, researching, discussing, and learning. I was introduced to admirable people who taught me the importance of fighting for women’s’ rights and their right to pleasure.

My shift in perspective has led to concrete changes in my day to day life. In social media I try to use a language of inclusion. I no longer tell sexist jokes, and I defend women if someone does something inappropriate. I’ve decided to not socialise with my former friends anymore. To them I’ve become that weirdo that doesn’t laugh at their tits & ass-jokes. My decision was connected to my new views and my change. Once again you can draw a parallel to alcoholism: If an alcoholic wants to be cured, the most important thing is to step away from those friends that drink too much. ”

Article published in OmVärlden, 21 November 2016. Full article (in Swedish) here: http://www.omvarlden.se/Opinion/kronikor1/en-machoman-ar-som-en-alkoholist/

Photo by Patricio Crooker

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