Benevolent patriarchy & gender violence : unveiling Black men’s illusion of mea innocentia in Bluefields Nicaragua




Hodgson Suarez, Eva Yadira

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Implementing a Black feminist perspective, this ethnographic research examines the seemingly contradictory circumstances in which respectable heterosexual Afrodescendant Creole men of Bluefields are involved in familial relationships based on Christian love and simultaneously engage in intimate partner violence and child sexual abuse. The findings reveal that Creoles’ gender politics are rooted in heteropatriarchal ideology, strongly influenced by Christian respectability. The construction of Creole manhood is based on a complex process characterized by inculcation, emulation, and socialization regulated under strict childrearing practices controlled by men. Regarding their self-perception, within an antiblack multicultural patriarchal context, Creole men define themselves are exceptional benevolent patriarchs. Their perspectives of Creole men’s enactment of intimate partner violence and child sexual abuse connote denial, evasion, minimization, diffusion, and rationalization. Nevertheless, a close examination unveils that Creole men abuse power and enact various forms of gender violence and that they recur to dissemblance to shield the negative aspect of their behavior. Hence, victim-blaming and the belief that perpetrators suffer from mental illness are the primary rationales for explaining perpetrators’ behavior. Nevertheless, it is demonstrated these rationales are rooted in patriarchal ideology. Moreover, patriarchy establishes men to exert power and control over women and children and enables the coexistence of love and gender violence. Notably, Creole men reject all forms of feminist stances and yearn for women to remain submissive; this posture reveals patriarchal nostalgia in the era of women’s liberation. Simultaneously, they advocate for men to practice benevolent patriarchy. To end child sexual abuse, men suggest that both parents and children are to be trained in how to identify sexual predators and avoid them. Lastly, the study reveals that education on gender equality, combined with women’s financial emancipation, is critical to disrupting patriarchy. It also suggests the need to demystify the belief related to benevolent patriarchy, gender complementarity, and love.


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