What are Micromachismos and how many types are there?

Anthony Golden
What are Micromachismos and how many types are there?

When we talk about machismo or discrimination, we usually point to key facts about gender inequality that flood the news; very obvious facts such as sexist violence or economic or employment inequality.

Beneath these highly visible acts, there is a sexist cultural base very established in the depths of our social behavior that delicately sneaks into our daily behaviors, sometimes almost imperceptibly. A subtle discrimination that is part of cultures based on inequality and that not only men but also women commit, laying down implicit normative bases of coexistence that will influence how both genders should behave and what their roles, limitations and roles will be. opportunities. This uneven cultural base is highlighted through daily behaviors known as: micromachisms, a concept coined in 1990 by the psychotherapist Luis Bonino.


  • What are micromachisms?
  • Types of micromachisms
    • 1. Utilitarian micromachisms
    • 2. Covert micromachisms
    • 3. Crisis micromachisms
    • 4. Coercive micromachisms
    • Links of interest

What are micromachisms?

Micromachisms are daily behaviors that both men and women have completely assumed and that, although they are subtle and seemingly harmless, reveal a cultural inequality between genders that implicitly manages the attitudes that one and the other must adopt..
Amnesty International points to micro-sex as the base of a pyramid of gender inequality in which murders and gender violence would be found at the most visible point. The base of this pyramid would be made up of deeply established values ​​that support the entire network of sexist behaviors. These values ​​are reflected in the common and not so visible behaviors that feed back on this inequality: micro-chauvinisms.

Types of micromachisms

Micro-sex behaviors can be divided into four types:

1. Utilitarian micromachisms

It is the easiest type of sexist discrimination to identify and refers to the implicit assumption that domestic tasks, such as servitude or taking care of the home and the people in it, are inherent to being a woman.

This is demonstrated in a very subtle and automated way. Although there are many cases in which, literally, man openly demands or orders certain services, normally the fact is given implicitly through completely automated behaviors.

This is the case of homes in which, almost unconsciously, the man delegates everything that has to do with the daily maintenance of the home to the woman, with the mere fact of showing a passive attitude towards them, automatically assuming that he does not correspond.

Sometimes these attitudes can be disguised as implicit “deals” based on a fictitious reciprocity that remains unequal, for example, the man does a daily act for the good of the family, such as shopping and assumes that the woman will be responsible for doing the rest. of necessary acts at home as a "fair" response.

Affirmations such as "I help you", instead of "I do it" or "this corresponds to me", are also discriminatory behaviors in the utilitarian sense. Behind a behavior that appears to be based on goodwill, a clear statement is found: "Although this task is yours, I will carry out an act of good faith by helping you complete it.".

2. Covert micromachisms

These types of behaviors are more subtle since they hide a very indirect objective: to create feelings of guilt and little worth in women. This occurs through behaviors that seem to seek the opposite, such as excessive paternalism, innocent teasing that seeks the ridicule or humiliation of women, emotional manipulation, double messages, deception, disavowal or abuse of trust, among others..

A very common behavior is to accuse a woman that she is "hysterical" or is "too emotional" when she shows a disagreement by way of anger, something that in a man would perhaps be respected and applauded, but in the case of women , is used for ridicule, making him understand that his behavior is due to his emotional and irrational attitudes.

Here we can also find behaviors such as the famous "mansplaining" and "manspreading":

  • Mansplaining: The first one refers to an Anglo-Saxon concept that, translated into Spanish, could mean something like “machoexplicación”. It is the act in which the man explains and interrupts the woman's speech in a paternalistic and condescending way, even though the woman is an expert in the subject of speech. This term was coined by the writer Rebecca Solnit in her book: Men Explain Things to Me and is born from a real anecdote in which, at a party, she is interrupted by a man who explains the content of a book in a condescending way, a book that, although he does not know it, she has written. "It is a universally accepted truth that every woman in possession of an opinion needs someone to correct it", as Solnit quotes the Pride and Prejudice text.
  • Manspreading: It is a term much commented lately that in Castilian comes to mean something like "machoesparcimiento". Denotes a behavior of invasion of public space through the body posture of a man that is based on opening his legs excessively occupying the space of others and that rather than trying to inconvenience those sitting around, according to this concept, it is an act that in a subtle way it shows that the man is the dominant owner of the space, something that if a woman did it would generate a great rejection, as the following video tries to show:

3. Crisis micromachisms

This type of micromachismo occurs when the woman acquires greater power in her life or obtains some type of success. As a result of this, the man who exercises this type of behavior may tend to carry out a toxic attitude, controlling the woman more, showing unreal support or a strong distancing and victimhood in order to blame the woman for a success that in her heart she does not accept that it should correspond to her.

An example would be that of the woman who gets a new job and who is questioned about it at home, since her abilities as a mother will be affected, filling her with guilt if she accepts this job.

4. Coercive micromachisms

It is that type of behavior in which the man manages to disavow the woman and eliminate her sense of autonomy through both physical, economic or personal power. In this type of behavior, the man can come to control the woman economically, as well as invade her time and space around himself, reducing communication and imposing intimacy on the couple.

The objective of this type of behavior is to make the woman lose confidence in herself and adapt to the man's reasoning, leaving him little space for his own reasoning and autonomy..

No one is exempt from both suffering and perpetrating acts based on micromachism: Complimenting an unknown woman in a public place, criticism between women of another woman for carrying out behaviors "unusual according to their role" such as not being mothers or dressing or give a different opinion, question the opinions and ideas of a woman or even ridicule her, motivate a boy more to do technical tasks in the school environment, come home in a bad mood and silently demand a specific domestic behavior from a woman ... There are many examples that highlight the situation of inferiority in which women have been for centuries and that are still deeply established in society. Informing, educating and working to detect these behaviors and their psychological bases is a necessary task for the advancement of fairer societies.

Links of interest

  • How to identify micromachisms. Ana Requena Aguilar. 2012. http://laaventuradeaprender.intef.es/documents/10184/70265/Guia-LADA_Como-identificar-los-micromachismos.pdf
  • 7 Casually sexist things that women hear everyday. Julie Zellinger. 2015. https://www.mic.com/articles/115904/7-everyday-things-that-are-only-said-to-women#.ENj4mFg56.
  • Micromachismos, a silent and subtle machismo. Lula Gomez. http://www.mujeresenred.net/spip.php?article2190

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