Patriarchy is the system on which our world is based – its defining characteristic being the belief that men are inherently more valuable than women. Its effects are far-reaching, and the patriarchal system maintains class, gender, racial, heterosexual and the status quo of power.
“[It relies] on both crude forms of oppression, like violence; and subtle ones, like laws; to perpetuate inequality. Patriarchal beliefs of male, heterosexual dominance and the devaluation of girls and women lie at the root of gender based violence.” – Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence
This creates a culture where gender-based violence, misogyny (hating women) means that women and girls are devalued, as are LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as people of colour. This leads to the minimizing of abuse and sexual assault, ignores sexism, promotes toxic masculinity and uses men’s achievements to excuse their behaviour (Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence). It also means that many survivors and those with lived experience can be reluctant to come forward with their stories, because they are often not believed.
The #metoo movement was something of a watershed moment for women who have been silenced. The story of Harvey Weinstein, a powerful Hollywood producer accused of assaulting or harassing over 100 women inspired the #metoo phenomenon, and millions from around the world to tell their stories.
As Jackson Katz points out in this TED Talk, violent behaviour is inherently tied to our society’s definition of manhood. Check it out.
Barriers in the System
Because of our patriarchal system, there are many, many barriers that survivors face when trying to tell their stories, seek justice, or simply trying to move on to a violence free life.
We don’t live in a culture that values women’s voices as much as men’s, so the justice system can often be more traumatizing than the violence itself. Women’s voices are not believed, sometimes by their close circles of support. In reality, our systems are designed by, and for, white men. It’s not surprising that many of those who have been victimized find it challenging to navigate these systems.
In addition to the barriers experienced by all those with lived experience, rural women often have additional challenges to deal with.
Abuse and Manipulation Tactics
Often, when people think of domestic violence, physical violence comes to mind. However, this is just one tactic that perpetrators use to exert control over women. The behavior could look like something very minor, but could symbolize something much more powerful.
There are so many different ways that abusers can ensure that they control their victims, it would be impossible to list them all here. Here are a few that people don’t tend to think of as abusive behavior. For more information, check out Speak Out Loud.
For more information, check out Speak Out Loud.
Or, watch Leslie Morgan Steiner’s Ted Talk to see the different power and control tactics her abuser used. She also answers the “Why doesn’t she just leave?” question.back