The slow but sure creep of pa­tri­archy

CityPress - - Voices - Gayle Edmunds voices@city­press.co.za

Rus­sia this week passed a law making it okay to beat your wife, as long as you don’t draw blood or break her bones. Oh, and you can only hit her once a year.

This is a chilling ex­am­ple of the pa­tri­ar­chal creep – and it will prob­a­bly get a whole lot worse the world over.

Misog­yny has been em­bold­ened by the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump. The begin­ning of the dial-back on re­pro­duc­tive rights in the US was the first of many signs of the grab to put women back in their place. With a self-con­fessed pussy-grab­ber and sex­ual preda­tor in the White House (who ob­jec­ti­fies women at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity and has made lewd com­ments about his own daugh­ter), the world is go­ing to be­come a whole lot scarier again for women and girls.

Un­for­tu­nately, the Women’s March on Jan­uary 21 ex­posed the ele­phant in the room again – the out­rage isn’t main­stream enough in the male pop­u­la­tion (ku­dos to the men who marched), and there are al­ways sex­ist apol­o­gists ready with the “our women are bet­ter off than their women ar­gu­ment”.

The most ap­palling ex­am­ple of com­par­a­tive misog­yny is Bri­tish TV pre­sen­ter Piers Mor­gan. He put out this tweet: “My Men’s March will start by the Saudi, not US, em­bassy. We will show our mas­cu­line strength by protest­ing at THEIR treat­ment of women.”

In South Africa, vi­o­lence against women and chil­dren is a ma­jor so­cial prob­lem – and, as the US is find­ing out, prej­u­dice and what is ac­cept­able trick­les down from the top. Our own pres­i­dent has in­fa­mously made all sorts of com­ments over the years that clearly vi­o­late the spirit of gen­der equal­ity. En­shrined in our Con­sti­tu­tion, gen­der rights might ex­ist on pa­per, but in the lives of real women, they are a pipe dream.

What we all need is for the men – all of them – to stop pay­ing lip ser­vice to gen­der equal­ity and start recog­nis­ing that their priv­i­lege means they should be at the front of the march, not find­ing rea­sons to slag off the women lead­ing the re­sis­tance.

But most of all, we need to get to the point where women who speak their minds are cel­e­brated and given an equal share of space to be heard – a place where gen­der no longer mat­ters in the di­vi­sion of labour at home; where pay isn’t de­ter­mined by whether you have a vagina or not; and where women hold half the de­ci­sion­mak­ing roles in the world be­cause they rep­re­sent half of the pop­u­la­tion.

We are light years away from this utopia, but a good place to start would be to en­sure women are safe in their own homes – a right Rus­sia has just taken away as the war on women hots up.

The world is go­ing to be­come a whole lot scarier again for women and girls

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