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  • Writer's pictureDr. Miller

Mexican Men: The Desire for a New Expression of Masculinity

Updated: Dec 13, 2019

Para la traducción en español, haga clic aquí.

How does a man realize that he desires a new expression of masculinity, a new way of being a man? How does he, beer in hand, ask his guy friends if there is a better way to be a man? How does he navigate this new masculinity with his wife, in their relationship, and with their kids? These were the questions that swirled around in my head after the interview with Marco Lôme.

I had no idea beforehand of the questions that this first interview in Mexico would raise. Arriving on a slightly chilly morning at Anáhauc University, Tanya and I had planned interviews with both Maestra Olivia Núñez Orellana, who directs the Mexico City section of John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for the Sciences of Marriage and the Family, and Maestro Marco Lôme, who directs the Guadalajara section. As Mexican scholars of the family yet with different specializations – Olivia a film producer and director, and Marco a marriage and family therapist - we were interested to hear about their own personal experiences of masculinity and femininity. Our interview with Olivia would be in person, and the interview with Marco would be conducted with Zoom. As Marco’s interview would be the first to employ technological means – the first interview that wasn’t person to person in the same room - I had wondered if this would change our interaction or his willingness to share. Would it make the interview more formal? Would it be less personal?

However, Marco’s interview, his reflection on masculinity, was eminently personal as well as thought-provoking. Smiling, joking with us about being underdressed, excited for his third child on the way, he shared with the precision of a teacher. Using verbal clips from his own youth, he described his experience as a Mexican man in terms of a journey. As a child, Marco was taught that to be a man was to be strong, emotionally and physically. If he cried at home, he might earn a blow, as if to say, “Why are you crying? You don’t need to cry; you’re a man.” School, as well, his relationships with his classmates, taught him this same kind of strength. “The law of the jungle,” ruled our interactions, he related, and “this provoked a certain bullying…the most sensitive were criticized as being not much of a man…” And obviously, this strength was necessary to conquer women. “I remember,” he said, “there was a stage in my life where I sought out fights, because I thought that the more fights I was in, was like having more medals of honor, and the women would come to admire me, as aggressive and strong.”

And why were women to be conquered?, one might wonder. Marco was straightforward: although the idea was unconscious, he thought that women were inferior; they were conquered to be used.

It was while studying for his Masters and beginning to think about marriage, that Marco’s ideas of masculinity began to change. He realized that there had to be another form of masculinity, and he began to search for it. A dating relationship with a possessive woman, reading Sergio Sinay’s La masculinidad tóxica, and finally, his marriage helped him to mature in this new expression of masculinity. “I can say with much sincerity,” Marco related, head in his hands as he searched for the best words, “that my spouse drew from me things that I could never imagine. From professional development, from helping me to be a better spouse, from telling me things, ‘Listen, what you’re telling me hurts me’,” as he would thoughtlessly continue the same patterns from his childhood home. It was in their marriage that he found the relationship between husband and wife could be one of synergy between the two, instead of a relationship of superiority and inferiority, characterized by machismo.

Marco spoke also of how his wife helped him to find this new expression of masculinity as a father. “[E]ven working on the subject of the family, I remember that sometimes I would come home, arriving completely exhausted, and I would lie in the armchair. And my wife would tell me, ‘Hey, those two [children] are waiting for you,’ and I would tell her, ‘Well, it’s that I’m exhausted,’ [and she would reply] ‘I’m exhausted too, but it’s your turn, and not because it’s time for you to help me but because it is your responsibility to have time’.” As Marco came to understand in their relationship, “[P]aternity belongs to both [mother and father], and the moment that one has it, one has to go out of oneself.”

However, Marco knows that his journey is not over, as he joins other men on the same pioneering trek. “There is,” he says, “a Mexican man who wants to quit being macho, but he doesn’t know how to break these structures that culturally continue to be present. Because there aren’t any places that tell him how…I think that the…challenge is to encounter an education in a new masculinity that helps you to see that being strong…doesn’t lead you to being violent but to being strong in the interior.” And it’s together with his male friends, other men who are just becoming fathers, and with his wife, that he continues this journey, this self-education.

Reflecting on Marco’s experience as a Mexican man, how might it help other men to live out their masculinity?

Men, have you taken the time, as Marco did, to reflect on the image of masculinity that you have learned? At home with your own father? In school? What is the image of masculinity that you have lived out in relationships? Were you, or are you, willing to work together with your girlfriend or spouse to become a better man? And finally, is your strength the kind that makes you strong enough to be the man who starts the conversation, beer in hand with your guy friends, about what a new expression of masculinity can look like?

Thank you for accompanying me on this gender journey! May the wisdom of the Mexican men be a gift to you!

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