When we talk about machismo or discrimination, we tend to point to key facts about sexist inequality that flood news; very obvious facts such as sexist violence or economic or labor inequality.
Under these very visible acts, there is a sexist cultural base very established in the depths of our social behavior that slips delicately into our daily behaviors, sometimes almost impalpably. A subtle discrimination that is part of cultures based on inequality and that not only men but also women commit, laying down implicit normative bases of coexistence that will influence how both genders should behave and what their roles, limitations and opportunities This unequal cultural base is highlighted through daily behaviors known as: micromachisms, a concept coined in 1990 by psychotherapist Luis Bonino.
What do micromachisms consist of?
The micromachisms are daily behaviors that both men and women have fully assumed and that, although they are subtle and harmless in appearance, highlight a cultural inequality between genders that implicitly handles the attitudes that both must adopt.
Amnesty International, points to micromachisms as the basis of a pyramid of gender inequality in which the most visible tip would be the murders and the gender violence. The base of this pyramid would consist of values established in a very deep way and that sustain the entire network of sexist behaviors. These values are reflected in common and not so visible behaviors that feed back from this inequality: micromachisms.
Types of micromachisms
Micromachist behaviors can be divided into four types:
1. Utility micromachisms
It is the easiest type of sexist discrimination to identify and refers to the implicit assumption that domestic tasks, such as servitude or home care and the people in it, are inherent in being a woman.
This is demonstrated in a very subtle and automated way. Although there are many cases in which, literally, man demands or openly orders certain services, the fact usually occurs implicitly through fully automated behaviors.
This is the case of homes in which, almost unconsciously, the man delegates everything that has to do with the daily maintenance of the home to the woman, with the mere fact of showing a passive attitude towards them, automatically assuming that they do not correspond.
Sometimes these attitudes can disguise themselves as implicit “deals” based on a fictitious reciprocity that remains unequal, for example, the man does a daily act for the family good, such as making the purchase and assumes that it will be up to the woman to do the rest of necessary acts in the house as a “fair” response.
Affirmations such as “I help you,” instead of “I do it” or “this corresponds to me,” are also discriminatory behaviors in the utilitarian sense. After one conduct that seems to be based on goodwill, there is a clear statement: "Although this task belongs to you, I will carry out an act of good faith helping you to complete it."
2. Undercover micromachisms
These types of behaviors are more subtle since they hide a very indirect objective: to create feelings of guilt and worthlessness in women. This occurs through behaviors that seem to seek the opposite, such as excessive paternalism, innocent teasing that seeks ridicule or humiliation of women, emotional manipulation, double messages, deceit, unauthorization or abuse of trust, among others.
A very common behavior is to accuse a woman of being "hysterical" or "too emotional" when she shows a disagreement as an anger, something that in a man would perhaps be respected and applauded, but in the case of women , is used for ridicule, making him understand that his behavior is due to his emotional and irrational attitudes.
Here we can also find behaviors such as the famous "mansplaining" and "manspreading":
- Mansplaining: The first refers to an Anglo-Saxon concept that translated into Spanish could mean something like "machoexplicación". It is the act in which the man explains and interrupts the woman's speech in a paternalistic and condescending way, even if the woman is an expert in the subject of discourse. This term was coined by writer Rebecca Solnit in her book: Men Explain Things to Me and is born from a real anecdote in which, at a party, she is interrupted by a man who explains the content of a book in a condescending way, a book that, although he does not know, she has written herself. "It is a universally accepted truth that every woman in possession of an opinion needs someone to correct it," Solnit cites the Pride and Prejudice text.
- Manspreading: It is a very commented term lately that in Castilian comes to mean something like "machoesparcimiento". It denotes a behavior of invasion of public space through the body posture of a man who is based on opening his legs excessively occupying the alien space and that more than trying to bother those who are sitting around, according to this concept, it is an act that in a subtle way it shows that the man is the dominant owner of the space, something that if a woman did it would generate a great rejection, as the following video tries to show:
3. Crisis micromachisms
This type of micromachismo occurs when the woman acquires greater power in her life or obtains some type of success. Following this, the man who exercises this type of behavior may tend to carry out a toxic attitude, controlling the woman more, showing unreal support or strong estrangement and victimhood in order to blame women of a success that in its internal jurisdiction does not accept that it should correspond to her.
An example would be the woman who gets a new job and is questioned for it at home, since her abilities as a mother will be affected, filling her with guilt if she accepts this job.
4. Coercive micromachisms
It is that kind of behavior in which man gets disavow women and eliminate their sense of autonomy through a physical, economic or personal power. In this type of behavior, the man can get to control the woman economically, as well as invade his time and space around himself, reducing communication and getting to impose intimacy on the couple.
The objective of this type of behavior is to get the woman loses self-confidence and adapts to the reasoning of the man, leaving him little space for his own reasoning and autonomy.
No one is exempt from suffering as much as perpetrating acts based on micromachism: Pirouette an unknown woman in a public place, criticism among women towards another woman for carrying out “unusual behaviors according to her role” such as not being mothers or dressing or think differently, question the opinions and ideas of a woman or even ridicule her, motivate a boy more to do technical tasks in the school environment, get home in a bad mood and silently demand a particular domestic behavior from a woman ... They are many examples that highlight the situation of inferiority in which women have been for centuries and that are still established very deeply in society. Informing us, educating and working to detect these behaviors and their psychological bases is a necessary task for the advancement of fairer societies.
Links of interest
How to identify micromachisms. Ana Requena Aguilar. 2012. //laaventuradeaprender.educalab.es/documents/10184/70265/Guia-LADA_Como-identificar-los-micromachismos.pdf
7 Casually sexist things that women hear everyday. Julie Zellinger 2015. //mic.com/articles/115904/7-everyday-things-that-are-only-said-to-women#.ENj4mFg56.
Micromachisms, a silent and subtle machismo. Lula Gomez //www.mujeresenred.net/spip.php?article2190