Bert Oliver’s view on guns, patriarchy, and gender based violence
This article portrays the way in masculinity in South Africa has always been tied to violence. It also highlights the fact that we live in a an extremely patriarchal society, where stereotypes regarding gender roles are enforced. It in is the way that our society is structured and formed that creates a certain way of thinking in our country. Masculinity has been constructed in a specific way that creates a perception of what the “ideal man” should be. Men are often associated with being strong, virile, and the head of the family, or the “breadwinner”. Women have been stereotyped as soft, naturing, and less powerful. Their role is to be a good wife and mother. It is this outdated view that persists that I feel is contributing to gender based violence in South Africa.
Oliver also notes that men in our country often feel powerless and frustrated. This is because they cannot perform their role that society has given them. It could be that they are unable to find jobs, or poverty is a problem, or they are unable to assert their power in their work place, that leaves the South African man needing a place for his anger. This anger is directed at those who are seen as weak and vulnerable, thus women are the obvious target. This may be a generalisation, but it is a theory that could be true. Masculinity is very much linked with violence, and this is emphasized by the media. Children are raised in a certain way so that they learn their gender role and what is expected of them from a young age. Boys are taught to play with toys such as guns, and girls play with dolls.
It is also the past of our country that has contributed to the way in which we think about gender roles in our society. Apartheid was the ultimate oppression of the black man and his masculinity. It was a constant power struggle and I feel as if the power struggle never truly went away. As long as this type of thinking is kept in our society, gender based violence may only become worse. Women need to be seen as equals, and not so feeble and weak. It is the fact that women are seen as these easy targets that is making them so vulnerable to attack. If women were seen in the same way that men are seen, it would probably decrease their chances of becoming victims of awful situations. South Africa needs to re-examine their ideals regarding gender and gender roles in our society. Women and men need to be seen as equals. Gender based violence needs to be seen as an unacceptable crime with severe punishment.