BY SEBASTIAN UYS
This article should be read alongside the first article of ’A critique of the use of term Toxic Masculinity’
This article will begin in the same manner as the first – lamenting the violence against women. No-one can or should deny the reality and depth of suffering caused by gender-based violence for the victims. But not only are the victims affected, but their families and the terrible fear-inducing ripple effects that GBV has on our surrounding society also calls for justice, healing and answers.
This article will address the second commonly held root cause of GBV – Patriarchy. Specifically, this article will argue that the current narratives aimed at the dismantling of the Patriarchy should caution itself against ideological totalitarianism which currently label all proponents of normative gender roles as being proponents of gender-based violence. The battle to stop GBV should be fought by all who want to end the murder, objectification, rape and mistreatment of women. The battle to stop GBV should be fought by all who want to end abuses of power. But, this battle should be able to be fought without those who hold to postmodern views of gender identity excluding those with different views from the discussions aimed at providing solutions.
Srila Roy, an associate professor of sociology at Wits University said the following, ”No, booze doesn’t cause GBV – patriarchy does.” Her sentiments were echoed in our online meeting where it was said that one of the preeminent solutions to gender-based violence should be the “dismantling of the patriarchy”. This article will argue that the accusation that Patriarchy is the cause of GBV is in itself deep, but not deep enough. The cause of GBV is the evil that resides in the heart of man, which is deeper than the reality of a social environment where males have been prescribed leadership.
By arguing this, this article is not denying that men have abused their role in families, relationships and society. However, it is questioning if the root problem is in the gender role of male leadership itself – or in the evil intent and actions of the male in question. Evil which should be met with the full weight of punishment and justice. We should ask, did the gender-role of male leadership cause this evil action in a man– or rather – is it the primary cause of the evil action? If so, who is ultimately responsible – the gender role or the man?
In light of this, it is of importance within our cultural canvas to precisely define what is meant when someone says, ”… we must dismantle the patriarchy…”. This is essential in order to understand what you are supporting if you are ’for’ this dismantling, as well as what you are rejecting if you are ’against’ it. Furthermore, this definition is of necessity if one would like to accept and support a portion of what is truly meant, but also strongly question another (which is what his article will do).
If by – ”it is our responsibility to dismantle the patriarchy” – one is saying that we should all put a decisive end to all murder, rape, abuse and violence towards woman (caused by men) – then that should be wholeheartedly accepted. Moreover, if one is saying that we must end all abuses of power by males who are in leadership – then that should also be accepted. But, another significant portion is added in the modern expression of the dismantling of the patriarchy. This portion is not a peripheral ’add-on’ but is central in contemporary liberal views. In fact, failure to adopt it would result in you losing your place at the table where solutions to gender-based violence are being discussed. This is the view that gender-roles (for example – proposing that males should be the head of their households) is by definition (no question asked) inherently violent and oppressive – and is one of the largest causes to the problem of gender-based violence.
In terms of male leadership – the issue of authority is central – and an abuse of authority is far too common. This abuse of power is evident throughout every century of human history, in homes and in society (Slavery, Nazi Germany, Apartheid and corrupt political leadership – ”State Capture”). But, is the answer to this problem of the abuse of power the destruction of political leadership – or the reconstruction of good political leadership? Similarly, is the answer to Patriarchy the destruction of all normative male leadership (socially, culturally and politically) – or the reconstruction of good normative male leadership? Males who selflessly esteem others as more significant, who honor and love women and who serve their families, communities and nations faithfully. Fathers who lead well.