This interview was originally published at Sentido Común and was translated by Denys Vigil.

The feminist movement is one of the vanguards of the planet and the Morena feminist movement is one of the vanguards of the country. Rafael Barajas Durán, better known as El Fisgón is a Mexican cartoonist and illustrator. He has co-directed satirical magazines such as El Chahuistle and El Chamuco y los hijos del Averno and is a regular contributor to La Jornada.

Sentido Común: Why do you think patriarchy exists? Where do you think it was born from?

Fisgón: Patriarchy has historical roots. It is striking that patriarchy is widespread throughout the world, it draws attention that there are only some areas of humanity in which patriarchy is not consolidated, one of them curiously is the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in Oaxaca. I dare say that it comes from what the division of labor was in primitive times, that is, women stayed to take care of the family, they stayed to take care of the children. The men went out, took risks, went to get animals. In short, a division of labor was then established that placed women in a situation of weakness, of fragility, because the women were in charge of the most delicate, the most important thing, which was the care of the family, the care of the offspring. So, while the women took care of the children, the man went out, which gave him a whole series of advantages relative to the man and allows him, among other things, to develop the exercise of violence. What is the most important thing? That is strategically, without women, humanity ends! And yet, that is what places them in a situation of fragility.

Now, what is incredible and something that needs to be reviewed is how patriarchy is rooted in so many cultures and how patriarchy has very similar legends in various cultures. For example, in Greek culture, Olympus is a patriarchy and Zeus is a son of a patriarch who ate his children. That is, it is closely associated with the violent ritual of cannibalism and the execution of children.

Sentido Común: There is a dispute over hegemonic masculinity. What do you think about that and how should it be disputed from the left?

Fisgón: We have to understand from the left what Boaventura de Sousa Santos says, that there is an oppressive triad, which are: capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy. And, indeed, it is an oppressive triad that feeds on itself and what we have to do is fight it, what we have to do is find its roots and fight it. There is nothing more difficult than changing people’s habits, customs, and traditions. That is to say, it is very difficult to change everyday life because it is deeply rooted in matters of structure, ideology, production, work and other issues. It is very tied together in many places, so we need to raise awareness of what is wrong, and one of the things that we men have to do is to understand that patriarchy also hurts us. It hurts everyone, it’s clearly horrible for women, but it is also horrible for men. Patriarchy makes you do truly horrible things and it is incredible how easily we men have reproduced patriarchal violence as if it were something natural, as if it were a dictate of nature, and that’s not the case.

If we review the history of machismo in Mexico, you will realize that it is a history that has led to horrendous things. I cannot explain the sequence of femicides without taking into account the sexist culture of machismo. This sexist culture is, without a doubt, the germ of all the femicides that have occurred in this country.

It is incredible because in various periods of our history, the national identity has been connected with machismo; for example, in the Mexican golden age of cinema. He who is not macho is not Mexican. He who is not macho is a traitor to the country. Homosexuality is seen as a betrayal of men and therefore of the country, and even of humanity. All this has justified a lot of violence, and we have to unlearn this cultural facet.

One of the things that draws attention around machismo is that it becomes almost impossible for men —or even for the political culture of Mexico—to escape the logic that “he who has, rules; and it has to be a man.”

Women did not begin to vote until the 1950s – it is interesting to note that in Switzerland, it was more recent, until the 1980s – but it tells you about how deeply rooted machismo is at the level of politics. I am convinced that in Mexico the figure of the all-powerful political being who can afford all the luxuries and who can have outbreaks of anger and who can have outbursts of fury and outbursts of violence has to do with that sexist logic. In this way it came to be considered normal for a delegate to carry a gun because he is a delegate and because he can. And then there is a whole hierarchy– because in this sexist logic, there is a total submission not only of women, but of all men who are not the main men– for one to use the term alpha male.

It is very curious because if you review the catalog of insults that is used both in Spain and in Mexico to mistreat men, you will see that it is a deeply sexist catalog, that is, the one who “is not a son of a bad mother”, “has a wife who is unfaithful or is a cuckold” or “has homosexual tendencies or is not man enough or is a coward”, everything! And we would need to begin evaluating the amount of unhappiness that machismo has brought to this country. I believe that if we work on that, we will be able to eradicate it.

Now, how is this machismo reproduced? It gets passed from father to son, and that is the chain that must be broken. What we men have to ask ourselves is whether we truly think it’s okay to have had a father as terrible as the one we had. All the males that I know repeat this history that they have violent parents.

A Mexican researcher, Karina García Reyes1, did studies on machismo and drug trafficking. One of the things she found when interviewing 33 hitmen, that 28 of them say that at some point they planned to kill their father, they dreamed of harming their father and all of them, among other things, claimed that their fathers had violated their mothers. The study shows that some even came close to doing so, but in the end, they regretted it because of the hierarchy that their father imposed on them.

What is incredible is that these men who had so much hatred against their fathers for the violence they exerted on their mothers, reproduced violence. That is, they had no other idea of ​​behavior, and they all reproduced the same behavior. It’s an impressive thing. You have to understand that it is a cultural battle of the first order.

Sentido Común:  The 4T is the only electoral political movement where there is an agglomerate of organized feminists. These feminists have transformed the 4T movement and the country. Progress has been made in the materialization of historical demands of feminism thanks to feminists within the movement. Do you think that the male comrades of the movement have been up to the task in helping, to advance these women’s demands? What are they missing?

Fisgón: The men of the 4T—and in any space—are in a historical debt to women. I am convinced that today there are two great movements that are transforming Mexico: the Worker movement and the women’s movement.

Obviously, there is a feminist sector inside and outside Morena (National Regeneration Movement), but the feminist sector that is within Morena has done a fantastic job. I am struck by how feminist groups outside Morena deny merits to this feminist sector. Sometimes it is mentioned that if abortion has been decriminalized in several states it is thanks to the feminist movement, but it is ignored that the majority who voted, who promoted the initiatives, was the Morena feminist group.

I don’t know if people understand the importance of the fact that equal marriage already exists in the 32 states of the republic, for example. These struggles have been waged by the left. So, without a doubt, the feminist movement is one of the vanguards of the planet and the Morena feminist movement is one of the vanguards of the country. What we have to do as men is to support it – or at least not get in the way -, try to understand what our female comrades are doing, trust in their leadership, and it’s also up to us to unlearn our sexist logic and do a thorough review. We need to understand what our behaviors are that are wrong, what we have done wrong, because everywhere, at every level, machismo ends up surfacing in one way or another, and obviously we have to take charge of that, and we have to begin to solve it.

We have to understand from the left what Boaventura de Sousa Santos says, that there is an oppressive triad, which are: capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy. And, indeed, it is an oppressive triad that feeds on itself and what we have to do is fight it, what we have to do is find its roots and fight it.

At the Institute of Political Training, we are promoting courses on “masculinities in transition.” Throughout history, we have never encountered a privileged group that agrees to give up their privileges, that is why many of the revolutions that have taken place on the planet have been violent, and yet today we are seeing that there is an awareness of a new generation of young people who are saying: “what we are doing is wrong, let’s review what we are doing.” This course on “masculinities in transition” has been taken by more than three thousand colleagues and in the last registration there were almost two thousand registered. The first step to change is to be aware that you want to change, to be aware that you are doing something wrong. We are taking the first steps of this process, but I think the steps are well underway. A huge effort must be made to achieve important transformations. As with any transformation, it does not happen suddenly, but slowly; It is going to be a very complicated and probably painful process, it is going to be a process full of contradictions, but we are going to achieve it.

Sentido Común: For the good of all, the poor first?

Fisgón: Yes, of course. The poorest of the poor are women, so, of course, the poorest first.

Yes, there has been progress on the matter in this six-year term, despite the fact that they say “no, Andrés is not a feminist.” We must review that. For example, we had never had a cabinet with parity, we had never had a congress with parity, do you think that has happened naturally? Of course not, it has been the result of political will.

Another example is the quality of the civil servants we have in the 4T. If we analyze who the best officials of the 4T are, you will see that the majority are women: Rocío Nahle, Raquel Buenrostro, Ernestina Godoy, Claudia Sheinbaum, Rosa Icela Rodríguez, the female governors. They are very high-level people, and here one wonders how much talent we have lost because of machismo, how much intelligence we despise because of machismo. That is to say, how stupid machismo is, how barbaric! The damage that patriarchy has done!

  1. Karina García Reyes: “Four Dimensions of Drug Trafficking Violence According to the Drug Trafficker”
    (2021) ↩︎