the confined man

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Perhaps the confined man can discover, nowadays, that leaving the productive, patriarchal and sexist logic generates important and positive changes in his life and in the people around him.

By Paola Ruiz-Huerta*

What will happen to men during this period of enclosure and confinement? How will they live 24 hours a day in the domestic space, that private and feminine space, so insulted by patriarchy and so threatening to their masculinity? How will they feel when they find themselves less productive? How will those who have lost the identity attribute that is their work feel? How will they manage their emotions: fear, uncertainty, frustration, anger…?

How will the days of confinement affect your identity when it is so difficult to be active, rational and autonomous, the main mandates that determine masculinity, according to sociologist Antonio García? Is it possible that this situation encourages some to adopt more dominant positions and increase their aggressiveness and violence in order to feel more masculine and recover what Dona Haraway calls gender surplus value?

I think about women, and what it means for them and for the family, the presence of a man in the house all day. I think of the women I have followed as a psychologist for a long time, for whom the house is not a home and the risk that this coexistence may imply for them. I think of the women who live with their aggressors: dominant, controlling and violent couples, men who attack in silence, who force their partners to have sex, parents or relatives who sexually abuse them, who humiliate them and make them feel like a rag, as well as their children. Confinement is a breeding ground for sexist violence and, for many women and children, the danger is increasing these days.

Yesterday, in Castellón, a man murdered a woman. He is the thirtieth man to murder a woman so far this year, according to the most recent update on the platform. Another, in Seville, yesterday tried to cut his partner's neck when she said she would leave him.

The construction of male subjectivity is based on domination, cruelty and lack of empathy. Subordination, complacency and pleasantness are determining attributes of the “feminine”. And it is about this mental order in both genders that we must reflect, in order to deconstruct it.

For this reason, I also want to think about how the discomfort that this confinement produces for the male gender can be an opportunity for men to reflect, get involved with feminism and make a process of transforming their lives and gender relations, which has consequent social impact.

Feminism is essential and positive for all people: also for men. It frees them from that rigid fragility and the burden of having to lead, compete and dominate all the time. However, without losing sight of the fact that men in Patriarchy have a privileged and dominant position: patriarchy oppresses men, but suffocates and kills women.

Based on Elisabeth Badinter's idea that masculinity is constructed in opposition to three groups (women, children and homosexuals), now is the time to change the male paradigm and make it operate in a different way. To develop, in the privacy of your own home, skills that will allow you to be the man you want to be, if you're willing to forfeit privileges. Or to be, perhaps, “less of a man”.

These are some proposals that seem essential to me for a radical change in gender relations and in the patriarchal system. And that in this period of mandatory confinement men can exercise:

– Take part in care. It's time to see the amount of things that need to be done in a house and understand that care is everyone's responsibility. Domestic and emotional care. Give them the value they deserve and the need to place them at the center of life. Pay attention to the people you live with. Also take care of parents, siblings, friends. Say you miss them. That you want them.

–Develop listening. The empathy. Put yourself in the other person's shoes by trying to really understand what they mean. Listen silently, trying not to give advice or “solve lives”. In addition, listening without any sexual interest or of any other nature, and without interdicting, a priori, the possibility of learning from another person.

–Take responsibility for emotions and needs. In these days, many emotions will arise and you have to accept any feeling without fighting it. Connect with your own vulnerability, acknowledge the suffering and take care of it. It might be a good time to call a friend and share your anxiety and fragility.

–Discover tenderness: another sexuality is possible. Deconstruct patriarchal sexuality, the eroticization of domination and violence and eroticize empathy, care and kindness. Maybe it's time to experience other forms of pleasure, to explore, without haste, new ways of relating to your own body and that of your partner. Break with the hierarchy of pleasures that teaches us that there are some superior ones, like sexual intercourse and orgasm, and others inferior. Spend more time with caresses, tenderness and daring to experience new sensations. Let's see what happens.

Perhaps the confined man can discover, nowadays, that leaving the productive, patriarchal and sexist logic generates important and positive changes in his life and in the people around him. Changing everyone's little world is the only way to change the world. And only through awareness, questioning, responsibility and renouncing the privileges that this system grants to men, for the fact that they are born men, can we end this virus that is patriarchy.

*Paola Ruiz-Huerta is a psychologist, sexologist, gender specialist and Spanish feminist activist

Translated by Ricardo Kobayaski

Originally published in (

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