Making Male on Male Violence in Cuba Visible

Yenisel Rodriguez

The Cuban media promotes a disastrous vision of public health, mainly when this involves the effects caused by violence, particularly violence against women. They always present depressing and awareness-raising public service messages in which from one instant to other the problems of violence are solved with the magic wand of sound advice or educational messages.

They continually show us individuals without real social identities. This is tremendously hypocritical on the part of the script writers because in more intimate contexts they rub shoulders with opinions considering poverty and skin color as the effective causes of violent behavior.

Politically, would it be more costly for these demagogic script writers to reveal and disclose the socioeconomic problems of Cuban society? It’s certain that the political and social costs would be greater, that’s why television spots about gender violence present fictitious men and women in fictitious situations and therefore arrive at fictitious solutions. Fear prevents them from expressing their true opinions.

Moreover, many of these producers intending to promote educational television contribute — at the expense of good and bad intentions — to the promotion of stereotypes that participate as motivational ingredients of social violence.

An example that I’ve appealed to on more than one occasion — for the little that it is dealt with and for the high degree that it affects me as a person — is the focus on the violence that women suffer at the hands of violent men, a legitimate policy priority, but which has displaced to a second plane the violence that many men suffer at the hands of violent men.

As a consequence, there exists a total absence of television spots dealing with the issue of violence between men. It’s therefore necessary to demand the inclusion of this form of abuse to clarify its particular characteristics in analyses and interpretations.

The violence that men suffer at hands of other men is violence characterized by being very cruel. If we note that the greatest percentage of violent incidents occurring in Cuba happens between men, then we’ll realize that it is a hidden representative component of violence occurring across the country.

In Latin America nearly 90 percent of people murdered are men, according to a research study by Dr. Eduardo Mendez of the Center for Higher Research and Investigation (CIESA) in Mexico City. This means that violent men are more of a threat to the physical and mental health of other men than to women in the contexts domestic life, on the job and in social interactions, etc. Such studies draw on numbers and statistics, but they don’t stop telling us important things about gender violence.

This doesn’t mean that women are not in specific situations of vulnerability, only that they don’t suffer the greatest degree of male violence. Thus it’s necessary to visualize this situation in the media.

Do men support this social pressure the same as women? Indicators of human development as a rule generally indicate women to be more advantaged, especially on the issue life expectancy. What role does violence play between men in this sense?

Meanwhile, television programs and spots that deal with gender violence continue to forget the male face of the suffering and pain. In these broadcasts women are associated with “gender” and men with “roles,” as is commented in a study by Dr. Menendez.

Much of what we men are and what they undergo lie buried in forgotten files. Let’s open them up.

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