Gender Based Violence: Misogyny & Socialisation

Gender Based Violence

‘Gender’ isn’t something we’re born with, and not something we have, but something we do (West and Zimmerman 1987) – something we perform (Butler 1990). Conversely, ‘Sex’ is a biological categorization based primarily on reproductive potential, whereas gender is the social elaboration of biological sex.

In the famous words of Simone de Beauvoir, “Women are not born, they are made.” The same is true of men. The making of a man or a woman is a never-ending process that begins before birth – from the moment someone begins to wonder if the pending child will be a boy or a girl. And the ritual announcement at birth that it is in fact one or the other instantly transforms an “it” into a “he” or a “she” (Butler 1993).


A brutal misogyny permeates every culture and society in the world. The  high-profile case of the brutal murder of a young 22-year-old lady Karabo Mokoena in  2017 at the hands of her recently found guilty and sentenced to 32 years behind bars  28-year-old ex-boyfriend Sandile Mantsoe captured our attention.

In the past few years, we’ve seen other high-profile cases on violence against women; the death of Reeva Steenkamp at the hands of her boyfriend, the once famous athlete Oscar Pretorius. This is only a glimpse into the lives of millions of women and children who are brutally murdered, raped and abused by loved ones every day in Africa and the rest of the world.

One in four women are abused by an intimate partner. In Australia according to statistics domestic violence is the leading cause of death in women under 45 years. In South Africa, the femicide rate is five times higher than the global average, and Africa is considered as having the highest incidents of gender-based violence in the world.

Why is violence towards women and children so endemic??

Personally l believe irrespective of how badly  an individual is “wronged” it can never justify  hurting another human either  physically, emotionally, mentally the extreme being taking their life.Violence by partners against partners is such a profound violation of basic human decency, why then is it on the increase at alarming rates and becoming more and more brazen?

From a young age, both boys and girls are nurtured differently and as social beings we have a tendency to internalize the feedback we receive from our parents or primary care givers as well as the environment surrounding us. Men are compelled to know, to be right, to be in control, especially of their emotions hence stifling the humanity of boys/men.

Women however, are generally at home with their intuitive feelings, with life’s ambiguities and uncertainties and perhaps a lot of men feel threatened by women who symbolize a world in which men have little control, so that in a crisis they cannot rely upon their powers or reasoning and logic to give answers so the enemy then becomes within…? ‘If you won’t submit to my rule l’ll burn, behead, rape, enslave, garrote or disfigure you or l will hurl your children and mine into the abyss so that you never see them again. Now let’s see who has the power!’

We can not continue to ignore this desperate crisis or deal with it superficially. We all have to take responsibility for our actions as well as positively contribute within communities  in uprooting this social ill. It’s a world disease.


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