Gender Symbolism and Gender Power Across Time and Contexts: The Irredeemability of Past and Present Sociocultural and Political-Institutional Responses to Women Gender-Based Violence Survivors During National Transition and in Peacetime

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In the aftermath of gender-based violence, how do women survivors experience survivorhood and in what ways do entrenched sociopolitical, cultural, and institutional ideologies and structures impede their recovery process? I

In the aftermath of gender-based violence, how do women survivors experience survivorhood and in what ways do entrenched sociopolitical, cultural, and institutional ideologies and structures impede their recovery process? I argue that, in settings of both national unrest and peacetime, women are deprived the opportunities to heal from their trauma in a just and dignified manner as a result of the machinations of gender symbolism and gender power percolating throughout their private and public communities. I investigate the ways in which the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the aftermath of national unrest as well as sociocultural communities and academic institutions in peacetime analogously perpetuate defective and markedly androcentric ideologies, structural practices, and rules and regulations that simultaneously disregard women’s needs and interests while maintaining the cycle of impunity for male perpetrators.

I also present an autoethnographic analysis that conceptualizes my personal experience of gender-based violence in a comparative study across sociopolitical contexts to explode the assumption that pandemic gender symbolism, and subsequently inculcated gender power, is only noteworthy in regard to its impact on the levels of global systems and national institutions, as many international policymakers and political science scholars maintain. I likewise subvert the privileged attitudes that trivialize daily gendered experiences as irrelevant, and demonstrate how quotidian forms of gender power – often overlooked in disciplines of political science and legislation – are markedly destructive and whose far-reaching impacts at the local and individual levels are no less consequential than gender power on the international stage.