Yenisel Rodriguez Perez
HAVANA TIMES — The defense of male rights stems from the fact gender studies failed to produce a universal discourse. It was to be expected that the struggle for gender equality should fail to avoid the traps of polarization and self-aggrandizement, particularly when a complex and profound reading of male-female relations, the relationship between men and women, was required.
Vengefulness and a craving for power are increasingly common among the champions of feminism, such that the struggle for female emancipation begins to engender its own demons: the establishment of reverse prejudices about the masculine and men, polarization instead of integration, power over the masculine instead of collaboration between men and women.
Male studies function as a means of demanding male rights and as a counterweight to feminism in the struggle for gender equality at both the local and global levels, where conflicts and conflicting interests still prevail. Refusing to acknowledge this is another form of veiled opportunism. The demands of minorities and underprivileged social groups must also be met with ethical and socio-political vigilance.
In Cuba, the issue has even greater implications, as the country is seeing a feminist activism characterized by unanimity and voluntarism. For over 50 years, the defense of women’s rights on the island has constituted a fetishistic indicator of one’s revolutionary character and of obedience to the regime, something which has accentuated polarization and made a caricature of gender equality. It is the legacy of authoritarianism that Cuba’s new feminist organizations have inherited.
One case in point is the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), an institution which, despite impelling a sincere and committed activism which contrasts with the bureaucratized efforts of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), is distorted by the unassailable prerogatives that NGOs and Cuban institutions secure when they receive support from the regime in order to improve its international reputation.
As a result of this, we are shown dozens of spots and television programs that tolerate and encourage female violence against men and which ridicule male characters and engage in many other discriminatory practices as a means of raising awareness regarding female rights.
Because of this, any demand for male rights in Cuba, in addition to meeting with condemnation from feminists, prompts attacks from the authoritarian regime, which interprets any questioning of the polarization it has brought about in gender relations as political dissidence.
In Cuba, thus, we see that male studies have been left out of the social agenda, which has been co-opted by pro-feminist organizations which, like CENESEX, deploy these as an appendage and tool of feminist affirmation, sweeping the question of male rights in Cuba under the carpet.
It is therefore increasingly urgent for contemporary Cuban society to call for the vindication of male identity and its legitimate values, and to join international efforts calling for respect towards and greater awareness of male rights, namely to:
1. Establish World Men’s Day globally.
2. Create a “Hospital for Men.”
3. Eradicate materials and movements (and all related portrayals and messages) with anti-male content around the country.
4. Sanction women – legally and through campaigns and programs – who practice physical and psychological violence against men.
5. Sanction women – legally and through campaigns and programs – who sexually harass men and seduce, provoke or use them, taking advantage of their “charms.”
6. Revise the constitution and laws related to the juridical concept of custody rights, so as to offer fathers equal treatment before the law.
7. Establish a nationwide, obligatory medical or social service for women, so as to make them truly equal to men (obliging them to undergo military training at a certain age, for instance, as men are required to do in Cuba).
8. Create institutions that defend and promote male rights, in order to ensure the integrity, protection, dignity and image of men, which has been slated by feminist propaganda and interests.