I have just read an excerpt from a report from the National Statistical Agency survey that shows that about 37% of women believe that a husband or partner is justified in beating up their wife.
The reasons — whether ranging from infidelity, talking back, burning food, neglecting children or bedroom issues — are not the point.
Neither is it that women actually believe that they deserve to be beaten. What I find interesting is that anyone would accept violence as a form of resolving conflict especially when such violence is targeted towards another person. What I also think is clear is how militarism is perpetuated not just by men, but also even by women.
It is evident in both our private and public spaces that patriarchy has had a strong influence on how we have defined our worldview and lived realities and now all we seem to be is the ones who use force to resolve any form of conflict. Depending on who is involved, we decide to be militant and impose our own power on others.
The private space
As a woman, I have been victim and survivor of the happenings in my private space. Sometimes what happens between my partner and me somehow spills into the public space as it affects me directly, personally and intimately. Those who I then come into contact with will fall victim of my resentment, pain and anger.
So, it could be me, you or the next sister, the honest fact is that the private space happenings have a direct bearing on how one shows up in public. So when women begin to accept militarism as a normal way of life, it is worrying as they are also most likely to be militant in their public spaces and how they lead. Honestly, how may I oppose the use of force in the boardroom when at home it is my way of life?
Or is it a matter of managing domestic dynamics? No sisters, when violence becomes acceptable at home or in any of my private spaces, it shows its ugly head in the public space and chances are high that I too will become lethal hence the stereotype that come with how heavy-handed women’s leadership can become. I think now is the time we began to relook how we have been socialised no matter our age and say no to some of those norms we have accepted to the detriment of ours and others’ well-being.
The way a woman leads when she herself is a victim of violence in her private space is different from when she leads as a woman that is either a victim or survivor of violence in her domestic space. So as women this is the time we urgently need to say it is unacceptable to be treated as second-class citizens and take up our leadership in homes, communities, and the nation and all over the world.
By the way, those that preach submission I am certain do not mean that it is being silent in the face of being beaten. Well, in case they do, submission in the biblical sense is not about perpetuating violence, so let us all get thinking about what we are talking about here. It is rather heartbreaking when religion is used as a tool of abuse and women end up battered, fragmented, sad and bruised. No women should become another statistic, become garmented or suffer because they were socialised in a certain way.
There is still room for relearning some new aspects and seeing how we can transform the current status quo. No matter what we are socialised to frame, there is room to change that for a more progressive way of thinking. Peace and respect for all women always!
Redefining women’s leadership
Patriarchy has taught us that when one is a leader, it is quite normal and acceptable to use force. It does not matter what those being led think or feel, some decisions ought to be taken and implemented. However, I tend to differ. In the work that we do – and it doesn’t matter what type of work — it is important to be well grounded and centred.
Women ought to unlearn the whole aspect of using force as a means of being heard. It is when deep within the person there is some sort of fragmentation that we begin to want to exert ourselves and use force hence militarism. That is the ugly head of patriarchy and how it views power – to be powerful, we exert ourselves on others.
Being a victim or survivor of violence facilitates for the fragmentation of the woman and hence when she is in such a space, she then tends to be militant as well. However, we can take time to understand ourselves and what we stand for. It is when as women we know what we want, believe in and explore ways of being heard from our deepest being that we also seek ways of expressing ourselves.
Actually we can choose to express ourselves without force and seek to become peace builders at whatever level we hail from. So instead of accepting patriarchy and its tendencies, we can choose to lead differently and work with those in our lives understanding that they too have their own power to be. No amount of beating can facilitate for this. It may seem like one actually “loses” their power when they become transformative leaders, but this is not it at all – there is power in numbers and especially when women can explore the possibility of shared leadership.
So I guess what is critical here is to note that sometimes this patriarchal system uses the very women it oppresses to oppress other women. When women agree that being beaten is okay, is that really their own thinking? Show me a woman who loves to be beaten and I will show you the influence of patriarchy! Mutual respect is necessary in any relationship in order for one to be able to fully live their life as an individual. There is no need to be beaten into line.
Women, let us hold hands and stop inciting violence on others and ourselves. It is not necessary for women to embrace militarism as a form of discipline in their intimate relationship. Could there be another possible way? Yes, indeed, it is called dialogue and exploring other possible yet workable ways for co-existing. So, yes, the research happened and women spoke, but that does not mean that when something is largely acceptable it is the right thing to do. Violence in any form is wrong and women should begin to lead differently by calling for an end to any form of gender-based violence and especially violence against women.
Women are each other’s keepers and may need to explore how to look out for each other instead of perpetuating violence. We cannot wait for other women to be beaten to stand up against such forms of militarism, so sisters, let’s do this!
l Grace Chirenje is a citizen of the world and writes in her personal capacity as one who lives life to the full. She would be excited to hear from you. You can contact Grace on email@example.com, follow her on Twitter @graceruvimbo or like her Facebook page Grace Ruvimbo Chirenje.