“Masculinidades”—Cuban photographer examines “hegemonic masculinity”

[Many thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing this item to our attention.] Cuban photographer Monik Molinet examines and deconstructs ‘hegemonic masculinity’ with portraits of men posing with flowers to support non-violence against women. In “La revolución de las nuevas masculinidades llega a Cuba en una exposición” (A revolution of new masculinities arrives in Cuba in an exhibition). EFE reviews the exhibition. [Also see Cuba Debate for a review and video on the project.]

In September 2022, Cuban photographer Moník Molinet (Pinar del Río, West, 33 years old) blew up Twitter in 24 hours. And all because of some flowers.

On that occasion, the islander, who lives in Guadalajara (Mexico), shared her most recent project “Masculinidades,” in which she portrays Cuban men who pose with a flower on their ear in the central Havana Paseo del Prado. In less than a day, the publication exceeded five million views (equivalent to almost half of the island’s population). However, the complaints—or rather the misogynistic and homophobic prejudices—of those who saw an “attack on men” in these images, led Twitter to suspend their account.

The platform argued that content had been shown that broke the rules on “graphic violence” on the social network. “I never expected the scope it had,” he tells EFE in an interview from Havana, where he will show the result of this experiment in a photographic exhibition that opens this Thursday at the Cuban Art Factory, one of Havana’s cultural epicenters.

The work will be available throughout April. It will have 13 photographs, two screens that will show the development of “Masculinidades” in a loop—with the positive and negative reactions of passers-by- and a space will be set up for attendees to take a photo with a flower over their ear.

The intention, as she explains, is to question stereotypes and make visible through this, the fight against sexist violence. “It bothered me that—almost always—women tend to be constructed from the male gaze and, from there, sexualized and objectified. Questioning stereotypes, it was also inevitable to ask myself (…) what are men doing?” adds the photographer.

Molinet was convinced that “exposing new roles and (new) identities in images” can allow “many people” to feel represented.

The exhibition is no stranger to a reality that is changing by leaps and bounds in the world, with advances and setbacks, and that is redefining gender roles. However, like any change in culture, this one has met with resistance.

For the Cuban artist, those who criticized the exercise have exposed “the rigidity of the construction of the most hegemonic masculinity that all men suffer.” This, she stresses, is a problem that both males and females are exposed to from “the moment of birth.”

The reactions during the performance were varied: from a resounding yes, to those who only agreed because the women who work with Molinet seemed too “pretty” to “to say no” and even some Cuban women criticized the exercise.

“Women can also be chauvinistic,” laments the photographer. [. . .] Excerpts translated by Ivette Romero. For full article (in Spanish), see https://www.swissinfo.ch/spa/cuba-arte_la-revoluci%C3%B3n-de-las-nuevas-masculinidades-llega-a-cuba-en-una-exposici%C3%B3n/48415784

Also see: “Hombres con flores: Moník Molinet deconstruye masculinidades en Fábrica de Arte Cubano,”
Lisandra Fariñas Acosta, Cuba Debate, 4 abril 2023

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