Culture

Ya Basta Con El Toxic Machismo That Has Caused Violence Against Women And The LGBTQ+ Community

If you’re Latino, then you’ve probably exhibited some form of “toxic machismo” in your lifetime. Wait, I should rephrase that. If you’re Latino then you have definitely exhibited toxic machismo in your lifetime.

No one is exempt, yours truly included.

What is toxic machismo? Toxic machismo is rooted in a term that we’ve all heard before: toxic masculinity, which can be defined as the unhealthy and violent ways that men are often told to act in society from a young age.

Toxic machismo teaches boys and men to use their bodies as vehicles for violence and aggression against women and others. (Have you ever noticed the way that one relative of yours always refers to women as sexual objects and seems to prove his sense of worth by acting in aggressive ways? Both are a form of toxic machismo.)

Like most things, toxic machismo is complicated, but it’s most harmful for young boys in Latino communities because it teaches them that “softness” and vulnerability aren’t masculine. Who remembers always hearing the phrase “son cosas de hombres” at our family functions? Or worse, “stop acting like a b****? Do any of these sound familiar? They both also contribute to unhealthy ideas of masculinity.

“It’s also the idea that society teaches boys and men to think about their bodies as vehicles for violence and aggression against women and others.”

2016 Oscar Award winning film, “Moonlight,” gave us a hint of how vulnerability can be expressed in our homes. Juan, an Afro-Cuban immigrant played by actor, Mahershala Ali, was a complicated figure in the film, but the way he expressed a softness towards the film’s main character, Chiron, reminded us that vulnerability and masculinity can exist at the same time.

CREDIT: Credit: Moonlight

So how do we undo the negative effects of toxic machismo? We may not have the answer right now but one thing is certain, we have to do a better job of calling it out wherever it appears and, of course, continue to be patient with one another because unhealthy, patriarchal systems of power have existed long before we were born.

We spoke with twelve Latinos about toxic machismo, vulnerability, and how we can undo patriarchal ways of thinking.

Here’s what they had to say:

Julio Salgado

“Toxic machismo is when you use misogyny, transphobia, and homophobia to probe how much of a man you are. There’s nothing uglier than someone trying to test their masculinity by how they can put down others. As a man of color, I’ve fallen into those behaviors at one point or another. Just because I’m a queer man of color, it doesn’t mean that my toxic masculinity should be tolerated. Toxic masculinity, however you perform it, should never be tolerated.”

Salvador Pérez

“When I think of ‘toxic machismo,’ I think of someone who is consciously chauvinistic. All of us, no matter how enlightened we think we are, have blind spots with respect to others’ life experiences and struggles. As men, the best of us can and occasionally do fail to overcome unconscious sexist biases. But the ‘toxic machos’ wear their prejudices proudly. They’re the guys who, despite worshiping their mothers, can’t stand the sight of a woman in a position of power. Like most forms of intolerance, I think it’s perpetuated by fear — in this case, the fear of men expressing their true sexual selves.”

Yosimar Reyes

“When I was growing up in East San Jose all the boys in my neighborhood use tell me, “you talk like a girl,” but I never understood what they meant. As an attempt to listen to them I would look for examples of masculinity I could mimic in the men in life and quickly I saw that maybe I didn’t know how to be a man because I had an absent father and an alcoholic grandfather. For me toxic masculinity is this idea that we teach boys that they always have to be in power. We give them responsibilities they don’t want and soon they grown up into man that just don’t show up.”

Vladimir De Jesus Santos

“In my family toxic machismo has manifested itself in the physical and mental abuse of those that do not fit into the strict gender roles that it demands. Sexist remarks, slut shaming, homophobia, and general disdain of any emotional sensitivity is how I’ve seen toxic masculinity and machismo manifest itself in my family and community. I was lucky that my mother raised me with an understanding that the patriarchy was bullshit from an early age and always pointed to toxic masculinity and machismo as the antithesis of what I should become, as a young man.”

Pablo José López Oro

“Toxic machismo is fed by the delusional myth that Latina women are inferior, property, and sexual objects for Latino men to consume, own, and do away with. Sexual violence fuels toxic machismo among men and women. Therefore, toxic machismo creates a society where Latino men an exterior shell hardened by violence and aggression where emotions are deemed weak, feminine, and soft making Latinx men disconnected to the complexities of manhood and masculinity.”

Bocafloja

“The social construction of masculinity is deeply connected to patriarchy. As men of color we have normalized toxic misogynistic practices in order to gain subjective power and deal with our own oppression due to coloniality. We have lots to unlearn not only to correct our past patterns and actions but to redefine our gender politics.”

Rudy Mondragon

“Combating toxic machismo starts with self-reflection to unlearn some of the unhealthy ideas we were taught as boys so that we can teach Latino boys that it is okay to be vulnerable and that the expression of love, care, and empathy are beautiful things. It is also important that as Latino men, we join the struggle for the liberation of women of color so that justice can take place.”

Cesar De La Vega

“I understand toxic machismo to be an unhealthy obsession with power and control. It’s a fixation with the aggressive dominance of others, often expressed through the devaluation of women, promotion of violence, and the suppression of emotions. It’s an infatuation with the desire to be “better than” that creates an irrational fear of vulnerability and undermines the notions of community and solidarity. I believe toxic machismo transcends race and ethnicity, and permeates any patriarchal society.”

Alexandro José Gradilla

“Unlearning and “un-doing” toxic masculinity, especially for Latino men, requires us to connect with other Latino men with authentic hermandad and love. Latinas, queer hermanos, and Latinx people must be respected and engaged without fear or feeling threatened that we might be perceived as weak. In addition to love, we must continue to read and increase our knowledge in order to bring another way and world into being, so that we can all be freed from our invisible cages and to realize our collective liberation.

Vicente Carrillo

“Toxic machismo is a destructive but fragile way of knowing and navigating your world. It is unwarranted anger, aggression, hyper masculinity and the complete and total erasure of all that is feminine. Its an ego that blinds you from seeing queerness and femininity as valuable forms of expression. Toxic machismo has and continues to kill women. Toxic machismo stifles growth and liberation. Its kills joy. Toxic machismo has to be unlearned and no longer taught.”

Francisco Aviles Pino

“Toxic Machismo as someone who grew up in a hyper masculine household and community is something I’ve been institutionalized to do, something adulthood has even rewarded me for. Family and friends always ask about my relationship status but never assume its anything consistent or anything romantic. Overall, toxic machismo for me are only walls that limit who I truly want to be, a caring vulnerable person.”

Alejandro Sanchez-Lopez

“To me, all machismo is toxic. Machismo confines us to an identity rooted in power and fear, where all who do not fit this mold are automatically lesser than. It makes us too afraid to see others as human, to let go of the unwritten yet deeply internalized rules that dehumanize and emotionally repress men. And as the rising wave of feminicides across Latin America tragically show, the first victims of machismo are always women.”

READ: Jorge Diaz Is All About Owning Your Latino Identity
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ICE Is Taking Advantage Of Migrants Who Can’t Read Or Write In Their Court Proceedings

Things That Matter

ICE Is Taking Advantage Of Migrants Who Can’t Read Or Write In Their Court Proceedings

Sandy Huffaker / Sandy Huffaker

Last summer, images of undocumented immigrant children went viral. These images didn’t show them crying, or being taken away from their parents. These children were pictured alone in court. The nameless children had no one by their side, no one to represent them, and had no clue what was going on, despite the fact that they were there trying to seek asylum. In some cases, these children wore headphones as a means to translate what the judge was saying. However, given that they were just children, the translation was almost useless. Reports are now servicing that immigration officials are using the language barrier as a means to keep them out of the U.S. 

An op-ed, written by a volunteer at the border, states that asylum-seeking immigrants cannot read or write in English or in their native tongue and immigration officials are taking advantage of that.

Emily Reed, a recent grad student from Barnard University, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post that stated she witnessed this manipulation from immigration officials against illiterate undocumented people. Reed was at the border in Texas volunteering with classmates at the South Texas Family Residential Center volunteering with the Dilley Pro Bono Project when she witnessed this manipulation. 

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection often conveniently exploit asylum seekers who cannot read. Along with an unfamiliarity with our deliberately complex immigration system, the illiteracy of Central American migrants, especially women, facilitates the deportation of parents and separation of families,” Reed wrote. She added, “By manipulating illiterate refugees who often unwittingly sign away their rights, the U.S. government is violating the basic tenets of the internationally recognized and protected right to seek asylum.” 

Reed added that her volunteer program with the legal center provided Spanish documents to the migrant families, but they couldn’t under that either.

“Simple translation is not enough,” she wrote. “The Dilley Pro Bono Project provides documents in Spanish, but even this paperwork was difficult for many migrant women to understand. Many women I helped to fill out paperwork struggled simply to write their children’s birth dates.”

The migrant families are being rushed within the court and legal process, which in turn, is causing deportation to happen a lot faster.

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reported that the haste paperwork at the border made it possible for immigration officials to rush and deport undocumented immigrants. The ACLU stated this process should not be rushed because people need to take their time and understand what is going on and what it is that they’re signing. 

“This waiting period is crucial to ensure that parents have an opportunity to make an informed decision about whether to fight their own removal cases, leave their children (who may have their own asylum claims) behind in the United States, or make some other decision,” the ACLU stated lasted year. “In short, families will be making life-altering decisions after months of traumatic separation — and the fact that the government is trying to shortchange them a matter of days to do so is galling.”

A New York Times report showed that 58,000 asylum seekers are currently stuck in Mexico under Trump’s policy because they’re awaiting asylum hearings.

The backlog for these asylum hearings is up to six to eight months, and when they’re ready for their hearing the majority of them won’t understand what needs to be done. This is why they need proper representation, and a patient legal system so they comprehend what is being asked of them and what the next steps are. 

What makes this matter even worse is that there’s not enough legal representation for each family unit, or individual, at the border. 

Last year, it was very apparent that there were not enough lawyers or legal help for undocumented immigrants at the border, and this year there’s even more undocumented people awaiting help and attempting to seek asylum. There people like Reed who want to help asylum seekers, but it’s not as easy as they might think. 

“People see the crisis happening, and they want to do something right now, which is great. But when we explain that this is a long-term fight, and we need your long-term commitment. That’s when people sort of back off.” Zenén Jaimes Pérez, the communications director at the Texas Civil Rights Project, told Huffington Post last year. 

If, however, you are willing to put in the time, or you’re interested in learning more about how you can provide legal help, or assist legal teams at the border, please reach out to: the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (“ProBAR”); the Immigration Justice Project (“IJP”); the ACLU of Texas; and RAICES.

READ: Selena Gomez Announces New Netflix Series ‘Living Undocumented’

She Went Viral For Insulting The Food In A Mexican Migrant Shelther, Now Lady Frijoles Is A Celebrity Back In Honduras

Entertainment

She Went Viral For Insulting The Food In A Mexican Migrant Shelther, Now Lady Frijoles Is A Celebrity Back In Honduras

Qhubo TV / Facebook

On November 2018, Miriam Zelaya became a viral sensation after she criticized the food she was given while waiting for asylum in Mexico. Zelaya was nicknamed Lady Frijoles after making comments about the beans served to her, claiming that it was food for pigs. Embarrassed, she later apologized publicly to the Mexican public for the statements she made. 

The story of Lady Frijoles has taken an interesting turn. 

On March 2019, Zelaya was detained with her sister, Mirna Zelaya, for a violent altercation that occured between them and Alba Escobar, the woman they were living with. The fight took place after Escobar blamed Zelaya and Mirna for the loss of her job. The two sisters were accused of assaulting Escobar with a the butt of a knife and chair; they were detained that same night. 

After being held in jail for almost four months, Zelaya pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in court. As a result, she received four years of probation and was deported to her home country of Honduras. 

While Zelaya was in jail, her daughters were cared for by close friends and family. 

This week, Lady Frijoles was welcomed back in Honduras like a celebrity.

With only three days of being back in Honduras, Zelaya has been greeted by the media with style; she was even invited to appear on television. 

On the Honduran channel, Q’huboTV, Zelaya gives her version of the night she and her sister got arrested. According to most American media outlets, the dispute was only between the Zelaya sisters and Escobar. However, Zelaya tells a very different story that involves Escobar’s husband Mirna’s son. 

In her interview, Zelaya states that the reason the argument became physical was because Escobar pushed Mirna’s son. She affirms that neither she or her sister grabbed a chair to hurt Escobar, as most news publications have reported, saying that “I can lie to you all, but I will never lie to God.” Instead, it was Escobar who threw the chair at Mirna, which bounced back when Mirna lifted her arms to shield herself, causing Escobar to begin to bleed due to the impact. 

Zelaya refutes every word said about her on other sources, saying that there wasn’t a knife involved in the argument. Rather, Escobar gave the police the knife from her cabinet and claimed that she was assaulted with it. Miriam also clarifies that she was not as involved in the physical fight as the media claims she was. The only reason she got wrapped up in the situation was because Escobar was jealous of Miriam.

“I declared myself guilty more so for my daughters. I was scared that the state was going to take them away and I was going to lose them.”

After being able to meet with a judge to discuss her deportation, the judge let Zelaya know that she was able to fight for her stay in the country, if she could provide herself with a lawyer and the money to post bail. Zelaya responded that she did not have the money to cover the costs because of her lack of resources. The judge then offered to waive the cost of bail, but she must still find a lawyer to defend her. In the end, Miriam accepted her deportation because of her insufficient funds. 

During the programming, Q’huboTV opened up the line for calls directed to Lady Frijoles. Miriam received a lot of mixed reactions. For instance, one caller asked why Miriam would put the lives of her daughters at risk during the long journey from Honduras to the United States. Others tried to debunk all the statements Miriam had said about her case against Escobar. However, many welcomed Miriam back to Honduras and wished her good luck on her journey moving forward. 

On Q’huboTV, Miriam received plenty of support from the network.

For example, the opportunity to provide her daughter with glasses at no cost. Moreover, on live television the general manager of QhuboTV, Mario “Chano” Rivera, officially announced Miriam as a new host of show called “Las Doñas.”

To end the show, Miriam expressed how her fame helped her, but also impacted her negatively, “I never expected to have a job or help for my daughter.”

During a later episode, many viewers were upset about the fact that Miriam received a job offer with Q’huboTV due to her lack of experience and education in the field of media and communications. Both Alicia and Alejandra, Q’huboTV announcers, came to the defense of Miriam and stated that people should not be envious of Miriam or try to not tear her down. They invited Miriam because she is a star due to her fame. 

Either way, Miriam is incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be part of the QhuboTV family.