Project Name - Masculinity the Other Face of Reality

EuroPROFEM - The European Men Profeminist Network 


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40en_mas ... Masculinity


Project Name - Masculinity the Other Face of Reality


Ma. Adelina Flores
No. 23, San Cristóbal de las Casas,
Chiapas, Mexico
Tel./Fax: (967) 81209

OBJECTIVE: To initiate a process of reflection and consciousness raising with indigenous children and adults around issues of masculinity, and to contribute to the strengthening of equitable gender relationships between men and women.

SUMMARY: Masculinity is a topic that until now has not been addressed by members of indigenous organizations and communities in Chiapas. This is a deficiency that needs to be addressed immediately, because equality between men and women is not fully accepted here. This reflection on the masculine condition aims to address the question from two angles: within the educational process with children and adolescents, and among indigenous adults in their own communities.

LOCAL AGENCY: Formación y Capacitación Asociación Civil (FOCA)

FOCA is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. We provide services in education, training, counseling and development for women, children, young farmers, suburban groups and indigenous people in organizations and communities in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. FOCA has employed a professional team of women and men with experience in popular education and gender perspectives for more than ten years. Our projects are divided among several work groups: Health, Education, Human Rights, the Center for Popular Documentation, Investigation, Information and Analysis, and Material Design Production. The people who work at FOCA have experience on location in communities in various regions of the state of Chiapas, and for that reason we guarantee the excellence of our work and the optimal use of resources. We have an efficient administration and are legally registered as a civil association.

ADDRESS: Ma. Adelina Flores No. 23, San Cristóbal de las Casas
Chiapas, Mexico Tel./Fax: (967) 81209


BANK ACCOUNT: Bancomer, Checking account number 1000126-4 plaza 437 in the name of Formación y Capacitación A.C.

PROJECT DIRECTORS: Anthropologist Abelardo Palma Molina and Mr. Berzaín Santis. Both have extensive work experience with indigenous communities and organizations, as well as in popular education methodology.

LEGAL DIRECTOR OF FOCA A.C.: María de los Angeles Diana Damián Palencia


"Without a doubt the main objective these days is not to discover what we are, but to reject what we are." Michel Foucault.

Within the feminist movement the tradition is that formative work is done with women. On the other hand, it is difficult to find work with an educational goal done with men, by men, explaining the masculine condition. To recover masculinity does not mean to divulge or reinforce sexist culture. On the contrary, to recognize and take on our masculine condition is the first step towards the contemplating what it means to be men in a world where social relations are dominated by the patriarchy. The rejection of what we are, as Foucault says, must be done by us as men, and that begins with the "discovery" of our identity and its varied manifestations. This work necessarily includes consciousness raising among men, to reflect upon themes related to gender equality, sexism, partner relationships, domestic violence, feelings and emotions, fatherhood, sexuality etc.

Men tend to gather in bars, in sports arenas, nightlife spots, and on Sundays; in spaces not meant for discussion of men’s conduct, of our daily behavior towards women for example. We never get together to talk about our feelings and emotions, about problems related to our masculinity. Things as important as the right to parent, as being a responsible father in the sense of sharing daily chores or caring for children, roles and activities that are assigned exclusively to women by the education we receive in the nuclear family. The reflexive exercise around masculinity requires men to examine the "hidden" or repressed, because what they taught us at home and at school was to be strong and not to show signs of pain or fear, etc. To work with our emotions, feelings and behavior in social spaces such as the family, work etc., contributes towards the strengthening of equality between men and women.

In Chiapas two workshops on masculinity have taken place in the last two years, with members of local NGO’s, which served to initiate the process of demystification of our condition as men. The impulse behind this new experience in Chiapas has been members of non-governmental organizations, together with the help of organizations pioneering in work with men on the theme of masculinity in Mexico. The light cast by the self-diagnosis of the participants in these workshops shows clearly the problematic nature of masculinity. "not knowing how to manage negative emotions, difficulty in expressing what we think and feel…we become ‘arrogant and forceful’, to want to be tough and endure anything, excessive pressure from women, very aggressive, to make us understand and advance in the vision of gender, anguish in the role that I suppose I have to play as a ‘man’, male violence against women and the violence of adults against children, we carry and reproduce relations of power and domination that the patriarchal system teaches us…principally against women, drinking, imposing upon and ordering others around, violence: false ‘attributes’ of being a man…and what’s more these ‘attributes’ are misused."

The above statements draw a partial picture of masculine thought and the desire on the part of the participants to improve their interpersonal relations. These questions encompass all men’s lives, but we have never dared to share them collectively. The statements also synthesize the "functions defined as ‘masculine’: to be the boss, the worker and the provider, to be strong, daring, brave, and to go after women."

This effort to introduce the subject of masculinity is still insufficient, however, because it has not reached other social groups such as indigenous organizations and communities. So far the majority of experiences in this terrain have occurred among urban groups and professionals in Xalapa Veracruz, Chihuahua and in Mexico City. Therefore this project proposes to initiate work around masculinity with indigenous children and adults, in communities and organizations in Chiapas. Work with adults will take place in workshops designed to identify common traits in men’s culture, including those that impede gender equality. These workshops will emphasize three central themes around masculinity: violence generated by alcoholism in which the majority of men find ourselves involved to some extent, domestic violence, both physical and psychological, and the handling of emotions. Thinking about how we feel and how we deal with violent situations is important for generating the change of attitude necessary to create conditions for equality and a climate of respect between men and women. In other words, it is not enough to recognize what we are, nor simply to want to change; as men we must enter into a serious agreement of transformation, something that can only start from within ourselves.

To begin work around masculinity in indigenous communities in Chiapas is a challenge, but one that is well worth it. More than anything because inequality between men and women is quite strong, particularly in regards to domestic violence, which is very serious. In the events put on by women before and during the dialogues at San Andrés for example, the most common complaint was that their husbands beat them. "We want peace in our houses without getting hit or abused by our husbands, fathers in law, brothers in law, or sons in law." "We want respect for women’s right not to be raped, beaten or physically or psychologically mistreated by our families or by outsiders." "Women should be able to talk with our husbands and families about our problems without fear. We want to come to an agreement about the injustice of mistreatment, the beatings and punishments they impose upon us." The demand to struggle against violence generated by gender inequality is in effect. It is a difficult problem to overcome, because men are not educated to share our partnerships in conditions of respect and equality. And it just so happens that the majority of male leaders in indigenous communities and organizations also reproduce traditional gender power relationships, despite the fact that they have taken on other responsibilities in the struggle for social change.

The other important component of this work that needs to be addressed is that with children and adolescents in the schools. "All education should include among its objectives the promotion of equality between men and women," "Educational programs should be revised and adapted to the needs of the communities and discriminatory content should be eliminated. These programs should educate students about equality between men and women." To take on the problematic of gender inequality within the educational process contributes toward the formation of a greater sensibility and conscience among newer generations, which is necessary for transforming relations between women and men. We plan to work with children and adolescents ages 6 to 14 years that are learning to read and write. The objective is to discover, within the learning environment, how traditional differences between men and women reproduce gender inequality. In order to implement this project, we will use writing lesson activities (?) with groups of 35 young people. For this work we will need to design a specific methodology, with the aim of getting the children to reflect on the roles the men and women play within the home and in school, starting with an examination of activities "exclusive" to women and "exclusive" to men.


To begin a process of reflection and consciousness raising with indigenous children and adults on masculinity and to contribute to the strengthening of equitable gender relationships between women and men.


To give workshops on the masculine condition, from the perspective of gender relations. To encourage education on gender equality starting from the identification of masculine and feminine roles. To design a methodology for the workshops on masculinity. To elaborate popular education materials on the theme of masculinity.


12 monthly workshops on masculinity. 48 weekly sessions with children. 12 written accounts of the masculinity workshops. 1 bulletin on the theme of masculinity.


The workshops will take place in the municipality of Villa de las Rosas, located in the Altos de Chiapas region. The work with children and adolescents will take place in a community in the municipality of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas.

DIRECT BENEFICIARIES: 240 men and 35 children and adolescents.

INDIRECT BENEFICIARIES: 1,650 men, women and children.


The workshops will take place with the indigenous population in the neighborhoods and communities of Villa las Rosas. We will begin with a sensitization activity, on the need to talk about the problems that we confront as men, at work and within the family. We expect to work for 2 months on promotional activities in order to motivate men to get together and think about the problematic of masculinity. As an aid to this process, we will utilize simple materials that explain the importance and the significance of workshops on masculinity.

As for the work with children and adolescents, we will take advantage of the relationship that already exists through the alphabetization work being done by FOCA’s education team. As a learning and gathering place, the school will serve as a space to contemplate gender equality. In order to do this we will utilize educational games and devise a specific methodology that analyzes the daily life of children in the community, in order to identify distinct roles among young people. This work will take place once a week over a period of one year.


The systematization of the project through written accounts. Greater participation of women in spaces within the communities and organizations which are normally assigned to men, such as assemblies. Sensitization and a change of attitude among men toward women. The reproduction of the workshops. The development of work with children and the corresponding written accounts.

Anthropologist Abelardo Palma Molina and Berzain Santis.


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