By Maritza Gordillo
A recent news report on the Spanish channel Univision focused on a group of Colombian men forming a movement called, Movimiento Machista Colombiano (Male Chauvinist Colombian Movement). The group’s founder, Beto Barreto, wanted to start this political movement to defend the rights of the machistas. Barreto says he has seen many incidents in which men have been arrested for raping their wives, and he believes this punishment is ridiculous because there is no such thing as rape within a marriage; it is a woman’s obligation to attend to all of her husband’s needs. To be considered as a member in the movement, the Machos must have more than one woman at a time and cannot have a woman trying to sue him for rape or other abuses since that supposedly shows his incompetency at dominating his wife or partner. Barreto compares the absolute dominance he has over a horse to how men should dominate their women. One of his former followers, Otoniel Castañeda, gave an even more illogical comparison of women and dogs. Castañeda thinks that women should take care of the children and dogs are used to guard the home. Because of Barreto’s troubling belief in extreme masculinity, it comes to no surprise that during his political crusade there were two laws that he wanted to implement:
1. Men should not be held responsible for paying child support to their ex-wives, or give their ex-wives any amount of income to sustain them.
2. Adultery should not be punishable for men, but should be punishable for women.
These are just a couple of the gender-offensive laws Barreto proposed if he were to be elected for a position in which he fortunately did not win, but received an astonishing 8,000 votes. It is hard to believe that excessively sexist beliefs like this still exist and that many Colombian women continue to abide by Machos’ rules out of fear. Even though there are laws that protect these women, the fear of physical and psychological abuse keeps these women silent. According to Sonia Bernal, a lawyer and advocate of women’s rights in Colombia, this type of machismo originates from mothers who raise their children to have this mentality. Bernal says that mothers teach their sons that women should be hit in order for them to obey and that young girls are not autonomous beings, but are dependents of men. Barreto would agree with this child-rearing practice when he asserts that women should be hit in order to learn not to commit the same mistake again. Watching this news report was shocking because ignorant ideologies like these are what aid the continued violence towards women.