Social And Structural Violence As A Colonial Legacy

1604 WordsMar 5, 20177 Pages
The question of ‘agency’ becomes apparent when discussing HIV, especially in relation to gender dynamics. Jennifer Hirsch’s ethnographic research, The Secret (2014), reveals how marriage and extra marital sex intersect with modes of power and structural violence in turn putting couples (mostly women) at risk for HIV infection. This phenomenon is linked to historical, economic, social and cultural variants of inequality that suppress women to a certain set of practices that makes them reside outside the peripheries of society, on the basis of their gender. In turn, women become token bodies who carry agency but simultaneously not exercisers of their own agency. Thus, this paper will be an analysis of how power dictates and enforces certain…show more content…
As women are confronted by structural violence, social practices and cultural contexts in which their ability to mitigate the risk of HIV/AIDS or to harness protection is reduced on the basis of their gender, this in turn plays into underlying socially imbedded power structures. As women experience a lowered sense of agency, they virtually have no ability to mitigate their risks of HIV. This denial of agency prevents women from negotiating sex in general, let alone protected or safe sex, including condom use. Structural violence is defined as violence that is structured by historically given processes and forces that conspire to constrain agency . Therefore, we can asses that a byproduct of colonial rule was the naturalization of gender distinctions that are rooted in forms of structurally imbedded violence. This is apparent in how colonial/Eurocentric categorizations of ‘man’ and ‘women’ have become a defining feature of gender categorizations. An example of this is the colonial domestic ideology, a categorization of gender that was rooted in ‘scientific’ rigor . According to this theory, innate and demonstrable biological differences defined fundamental differences between males and females . These differences thus structured and dictated differing patterns of behavior for men and women . Men were to be active in the public world, competing for power and wealth; while women were to be the sanctuary of the
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