I am dumbfounded when I read the news of the trial of “La Manada” (the Pack). In fact, the very name itself appals me. To be honest, following the judicial process of these 5 men accused of allegedly raping an 18-year-old girl during the San Fermin Festival in 2016 and all the media hype surrounding it makes me lose faith in the justice system. I feel that our society is entirely opposed to becoming a society in which both men and women are treated equally as people irrespective of their gender. I cannot comprehend how a group of young men could possibly have committed such a heinous act. It must be a professional weakness, but I cannot stop thinking about at which moment during their upbringing and education, in the broadest sense of the word, the process failed.
I think of all those mothers and fathers who, through their love, have given birth to children whether it be a boy or a girl. How could a human being, born of a woman and out of love, act in such a cowardly manner and at the same time use such cruelty against the gender that has given them life? Where have we failed as families, as educators and as a society, for these young men to have suffered such a deformation of character? What have we done? What have we not done?
I do not know the answer to these questions in the specific case of each member of this gang, but I am convinced that all of us who have been spectators on the sidelines have a moral duty to draw some conclusions.
We seem to have got used to "micromachismo" or a low level male chauvinism on a daily basis, stereotypes that persist over generations and which only manage to make us insensitive to certain chauvinist acts and attitudes. Some of these examples may sound familiar: sexist television commercials, everyday language in which the masculine gender prevails, ever-present hyper sexuality, baby changing facilities exclusively in women's toilets or the infamous man spreading. On the one hand, it is true that when my mother was young the situation was much worse (for example, a woman could not be the sole holder of a bank account, men came of age at 18 years and women at 21 and so on.) while on the other hand we still have a long way to go. Gradually and with persistence, things will change, starting with the denormalisation of situations and attitudes that are completely unacceptable.
It is clear that it takes much more than the examples of "micromachismo" to which we are exposed for happy children to become cruel, unscrupulous people, but if we want to achieve gender equality, we have to build from the foundations up, from the home, with what we experience in the media and what we transmit through our actions. Equality in upbringing and education will result in our children being better people and, what is more, it will create an environment that will enable them to be more critical and much more tolerant.
Adults, in particular parents and teachers, set an example for our children and students to follow. We must be aware of this and strive to be the people we want them to become.
Building a better future also requires achieving a more just and egalitarian society and this, in part, is in our hands. How can we do this?
- By setting an example: Our children imitate the role models they see daily. Let us move away from sexist roles and behaviour.
- Treating girls and boys alike: Reinforcing the idea that we are all equal.
- With unisex games and toys: There are many games that do not have assigned gender roles. By avoiding pink for girls and blue for boys!
- By answering all the questions they ask us and treating our children as future adults. By discussing in an open manner, we have to be able to respond to all their doubts and reproach attitudes that we think are inappropriate.
- By sharing responsibilities and tasks, either in the home or outside it: It will do them no harm to make beds, sweep up, hang out the washing or care for pets.
- If you are a father, treat all women as you would wish any man to treat your daughter.
With small changes we can make our children question certain accepted actions or attitudes and encourage their sense of criticism in the face of inequalities. We are exposed to male chauvinism on a daily basis and we have to gain ground over this, using our common sense, together and in all walks of life, including education, the media, government, justice and the family.
*Luis Bonino, the Argentinian psychologist, coined the term "micromachismo" in 1990 and defines it as: "That male behaviour which imposes the authority of men over that of women".