Patriarchy and privilege: A friend and I begin a Twitter chat. I have picked up from her most recent tweets that she has been violated; a man has touched her inappropriately in a public space and has laughed back at her. “I hope you won’t say this is sexual harassment,” he states.
I apologise to her; a helpless apology because, as she reassures me, it is not my fault. I know this, but I also know the difficulty of what she is going through; the violation itself, the speaking up against it. And so still, I am sorry. I am sorry that all of this responsibility – of guilt and self-blame – falls on her shoulders within a patriarchal society that will still find fault with her speaking up.
This failure to understand the pervasive nature of patriarchy means that conversations like the one my friend and I had are difficult and taxing. We should be able to stand up for ourselves, we get told. Through our acquisition of all our head knowledge and experiences, we should – by now – be able to save ourselves.
We need to have ongoing and nuanced conversations about development and agency, especially when this pertains to women. Violence in its many guises and forms is deeply entrenched within our cultures and we need to talk more about how it continually mutates as women practice more agency.
Source: GBV Prevention Network
Author: Fungai Machirori