The enclosure that we have experienced in recent months is not only a response to the health contingency that has occurred around the world, from another perspective it has been the way in which many other issues have become evident that as a society we have not given it the importance it deserves.
Among them, there is one that jumps out a lot in the conversations of different organizations and groups of men: what is happening to men during this period of lockdown?
In most countries, domestic violence has increased this season, there are more calls to the emergency services for this reason, and in more than 90% of the cases, it is the man who carries it out.
The provider role
It has been culturally defined that men are the providers of the house, this includes the economic and the emotional: it gives money but it is also emotionally stable.
Men’s socialization with other men sustains this provider role, and at the same time this coexistence gives the value and definition of being a man from the cultural and social construct, so we could see it as “normal” that, when deprived of these aspects, emotions arise that we are not used to assuming, such as vulnerability, sadness, concern, love and the search for support.
This role harms us, not only outside, but also in our own home; in both contexts with other men, yes, but also with our family that includes in many occasions, women and children.
Being a man today with values from the past
Many men have lost their jobs, creating an emotional discomfort in the belief that their value exists only in the role of provider, which sustains masculinity – or at least the hegemonic form of masculinity.
As a result, their health has been affected: stress, anxiety, lowered defenses, insomnia, etc. Covid-19 forces men to stay at home, suppresses this image and belief of being “useful” or valuable just to generate economic income, and in this, they are more affected than by the virus itself; the practices learned are damaging us physically and psychologically during the lockdown.
Losing that which has been said that men possess over others (such as women and children, among others), under the hegemonic concept of power, privilege, and control of coexistence, can generate conflicts at home. That which demands to be a man is what causes the real evil, the root of sexism. We have come this far because a previous change that is urgent has not been generated.
This virus can be a… teacher?
What has happened is that this situation is making us question and reflect. Today more than ever it is important to rethink what culture and society have imposed on gender roles.
It is necessary to work on the democratization of family activities within the home: equal care, shared education, divided tasks, affective responsibility, and proactive parenthood.
The preventive proposals against the coronavirus can be an opportunity for us to see the possibility of developing empathy and seeing women as equals, that not all the burden is on them in the aspects of the home.
Living the crisis as an impact is the immediate thing, but we can also live it as an opportunity to be more conscious men and relearn the bonds at home.