The topic of “feminicide” (a term Brazilian use to describe the killing of a woman because she is a woman) is a major issue in Brazil. In fact, I think more women are killed by their partners or companions in Brazil than in any other country in the world.
What really concerns me though, is that the situation seems to be getting worse and no one seems to be any closer to a possible cause or strategy to stop these crimes from being committed.
If you have ever studied sociology or are a sociology buff, like me, you may already know that Brazil is not exactly a “patriarchal” country although people here seem to love saying it is.
I discovered this when I did some research on collectivist societies – those where people follow or adopt the behaviour or habits of others without asking any questions, just to “fit in”. In general, this also means the members of a society lack character. The most collectivist countries are Italy, Mexico, and Brazil. As I looked closely at these three countries, I found they all have one thing in common – they are matriarchal countries.
If you have ever been to a regular Brazilian household, you will most likely see a woman at the head of the family than a man, as in the other two countries I mentioned above. In extreme cases, which are surprisingly common, the mothers do everything for their sons and also make their daughters do everything for their sons. The sons are more closely watched than the daughters and less likely to be allowed to play in the street with other kids, for example. In summary, the lack of a paternal figure in Brazilian households allows mothers to keep their sons close to their “apron strings”.
When there is a man in the house, he is so busy making sure his son is not gay that he makes it worse. I have met boys who are not allowed to dance, talk to girls in the neighbourhood or even play with girls unless there is some connection with dating. They also reinforce the “serve the man” approach and only perpetuate the outdated approach to gender roles in the home. In other words, most men do nothing to improve the situation and usually have no voice in the home when they do try to “save their daughters” and “make men of their sons”.
Women are historically the perpetrators of habits and customs. That is why we still have women engaging in female castration and all types of atrocities that are supposedly “favoured by men”. If these women rebelled more often, these customs would have faded centuries ago.
In a structured family, the man or father role or whatever is responsible for showing the son how the world works. The person who assumes this role, literally unties the son from the mother’s apron strings and pushes him outward, to meet new people, socialise, work, learn to relate, respect and be respectable. That is the ideal.
When this figure is missing, the sons are trapped in the world of their mothers. When they do relate, they tend to form narcissistic, limited, egocentric relationships where only their needs and feelings matter.
In Brazil, you see a lot of “macho” behaviour, which is just a caricature of what some men “believe” men should be like and is usually a warped reflection of the idea women have of masculine behaviour. “Men don´t wash dishes” for example, is more commonly heard from mothers than from fathers. Since most men do not have a real father figure to imitate, they adopt the macho image passed down from their mothers and try to live their lives accordingly, with no real depth or meaning.
An extreme case of men raised without a father figure was a couple I once knew. The woman had been engaged to the man for more than 12 years, but he never managed to leave his mother’s house. In public, he would sit on the nearest chair and just wait for her to serve him. He did not interact with anyone and would only talk to this girlfriend. She hovered around him all night until she decided it was time to go. Then, he would get up and they would leave. That was it.
I don´t know about you, but I have never seen anything like that in any other so-called free country. And the most shocking thing is that it is socially accepted. No one says a word.
Feminists are probably gasping at my terrible assumptions, but some women do make great fathers! I have met lots of them in Brazil, too.
In short, I firmly believe that woman are the only ones who can reduce the crimes against women. If they put their minds to it, they can allow their husbands a stronger voice within the household and support their attempts to navigate their sons toward the outside world. When that is not possible, they can encourage their sons to fend for themselves and depend less on women, especially emotionally. That way, they will not feel lost and broken when rejected by a woman and even run a lesser risk of being rejected in the first place.
Better men, my friends, largely depends on better mothers.