South Africa: Until Women Are Valued, the Violence Will Continue

opinion

Patriarchy is not an overt and carefully orchestrated project by men to dominate women. If it were, perhaps it would be easier to fix.

As a string of monstrous acts of gender-based violence dominates the conversation in South Africa, we feel a desperate need to see it end. To demand solutions. To say "enough is enough" - because it is.

Many blame the horrors of gender-based violence, or GBV, on the prevailing patriarchal paradigm, but what does that mean? Patriarchy is not an overt and carefully orchestrated project by men to dominate women. If it were, perhaps it would be easier to fix. Rather, it is a set of value judgements about who deserves to be powerful. These judgements, when held collectively among large groups of people, form an invisible system that structurally oppresses women. That's patriarchy.

Value judgements are highly subjective, involving an individual's personal perception of what is special or important. They are highly complex, and often unconscious. The study of the valuable, known as axiology, is a major branch of philosophy - under which philosophical ethics falls. It isn't hard to see the connection: ethics is concerned with doing good and not doing bad, and our conceptions...

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