History has proved that too much power, in any form, is detrimental to the greater good of the society concerned. People at the hands of the power-hungry face discrimination and are often subjected to extreme violence and abuse. Society has undergone several changes and progressions through time, including economic, political and social changes. One thing that has remained unchanged however, is man‟s power over woman. Patriarchal power is present in all sectors and scenarios of society, from the home to the international legal system.
My study focuses on the notion that an abundance of power leads to fear, violence and total disarray at the micro and macro levels of society. I argue that the essential problem in the relationship between man and woman is not a man‟s abuse of power, but rather that he has too much power in the first place. A culture of entitlement breeds among men, enabling them to treat women as inferior, sub-human objects.
Definitions of male and female prove to be concreted into specific roles and gendered identities within the home and the greater society. People fall automatically into these roles, blindly and unquestioningly. It is for this reason that I maintain all members of society ensure the survival of patriarchy – even if they do so unconsciously. While the difference in the understanding of rape and sexual intercourse should be stark, it is blurred because they are defined according to male terms. Man‟s entitlement allows him to think it his right to take sex from a woman, even if she does not offer it willingly. Culture and tradition serve as major obstacles in any possibility of society‟s progression. Culture has proved such an undisputed order in society that it even trumps the international legal system of human rights. Culture justifies, or at least trivialises, the abuse of women. The social stigmatisation of sexual abuse silences women, providing further endorsement for men to continue asserting their power. A woman‟s life, as determined by male hierarchy, gender bias, culture and social stigmas, is therefore fated. It is with this in mind that I strongly question the progression of society into a true form of liberality and equality. In order for society to attain such a transcended state, it will have to disregard everything that it knows and deconstruct everything that has defined it up to that point. Until this is achieved, women will continue to live their lives in fear of the silent weapon in war and peace.
Dissertation (MPhil)--University of Pretoria, 2012.