Rose Jaji (PhD)
University of Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe
Women appear in much of the literature on violence as victims because violence is generally understood in terms that limit it to its direct or physical form, which is predominantly associated with men. The main result of masculinization of violence and its limitation to physical attack in the study of gender and violence is the pathologization of women, which obscures their political agency. Although women’s perpetration of direct violence is limited and largely unobtrusive relative to men in many conflict situations, women are conspicuous in perpetration of cultural violence, which Galtung (1990, 29) defines as “any aspect of culture that can be used to legitimize violence in its direct or structural form.” Cultural violence takes numerous forms that include art, science, ideology and language. Although it appears to be harmless, cultural violence justifies and legitimizes direct violence (Galtung 1990), and the two forms of violence are mutually constitutive. Cultural violence renders the idea of direct violence a palatable and appropriate response to perceived enemies identified through political ideology articulated through relevant language in Zimbabwean politics. The political discourse in Zimbabwe constitutes an integral component of cultural violence whose distinctive characteristics are name-calling and hate speech, which are exemplified by the depiction of political adversaries as puppets, traitors, and enemies who are a threat to the country and need to be “crushed.”
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