If I am understanding the RG reports correctly, there have been two murders in virtually the same location over the last 72 hours, at least one of them apparently being murdered by her partner who is now in custody but, I understand also hospitalised after an apparent suicide bid. I don’t know any more details than what is available on the RG website, but I’m sure the details will come out in Monday’s paper.
As far as I know I don’t know any of the individuals involved in these tragedies, but I would like to offer my condolences, especially as both murders have now robbed children of their mothers, and families of their daughter, sister and cousin.
Both of these events have caused me to reflect on a problem which is all too endemic and pervasive in our colonial society, and that is the issue of patriachal violence. While a narrow definition of that term would mean simply systemic violence towards women by men, I personally see it in a wider definition, as a belief thast it is acceptable for a more powerful individual to control others through various forms of coercive force. I realise some would say this definition is too wide to justify the label ‘patriachal’, but to me this system of thinking is rooted in a sexist and warped version of masculinity and power; and just as racism can be internalised within its victims, so too can this patriachal violence be internalised within its victims. We see this in same-sex relationships, or parent-child relationships, regardless of the sex. On a wider sense we can look at how this view translates into the violence that permeates our society in gang violence as well.
The vast majority of our people, just as they oppose overt racism, similarly oppose the idea of beating women, or a ‘might is right’ philosophy in general. And yet the notion is pervasive throughout our society, right up into how our very political system is orientated and reinforces, however subtly, this idea. Sexist thinking continues, and this supports patriachy and the violence that characterises our society.
I think that until we, as a people, confront the very notion of ‘might is right’ that is rooted in our patriachal and colonial society, we are going to keep seeing problems of ‘domestic violence’, murders, and related gang violence. In particular we need to look at what it means to be ‘male’ and ‘female’ – how much are the popular ideas of these concepts influenced by patriachal notions? Can we create a society based on mutual respect and rational authority, on dialogue, rather than one based on coercion, domination and monologue? This is particularly important as it relates to the parent-child, teacher-student and intimate relationship issues.
These two cases are indeed tragedies. The greater tragedy however would be for us all to just offer our condolences to the families, have a little public grief over their deaths, say a few words and move on until the next tragedy. What we need is to really investigate the issues of patriachal violence what it means in our society, in all its forms of violence (physical, psychological and social), and how we can move beyond just verbalising the problem and move, not to just activism in the form of a march or some public outpouring of grief, but to substantial transformative change of ourselves and the society that creates this violence.
I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said before really, and there are many more who are better able to articulate the problems of patriachal violence in our colonial system. So what are we gonna do about it?