Teresa – Violence is greater today than yesterday?
João Roberto – The planet is filled with communication networks. Television, mobile phones and the internet provide us with information, especially with the sensationalist appeal of violence, which has transformed into the essential raw material of the media. We are submitted to a condition of spectators in the suffering of others. We have never been so close to a sense of universal responsibility, of a possible planetary ethics, and of a profound rejection of the producing mechanisms of oppression.
We have, in our simplism, the erroneous perception that now man is crueler. However, the violence of the past was much greater than the present. We are in a process of humanization in which man recuperates and develops the cooperative nature and care for the other man. We have access to news with a speed never seen before and human pain is printed on the headlines of the newspapers and magazines, all the time, in real time. Also today we have become more indignant. Violence bothers us much more. Not long ago, when a child was seen being massacred by the family, people did not interfere. Or when a couple is witnessed, with the man being violent against the woman, it was said: – It is their problem, do not get involved. – Today, there are already devices to restrain domestic and family violence against children and women. The state interferes in family relationships. There is a greater transparency.
One only has to remember slavery, a social practice in which a human being had property rights over another human being whom he called a slave, in a condition imposed by force. The slave was seen as a commodity.
Until recently women did not have the right to vote. What greater discriminatory violence is there than this? Only in 1918, when the First World War ended, was the right given to vote to British women over 30 years old.
In classical Greece, the woman had the same level as an animal. There were three types of women: courtesans, concubines and wives. They were all without social value and victims of masculine and patriarchal violence. As always, in every rule there are curious exceptions. One woman stood out at this time, Aspasia, who was a courtesan of the classic Greek world. She was the great partner of King Pericles, in the Golden Age of Athens. Everything wonderful happened in the time of Pericles. He promoted the arts and literature, and encouraged Athenian democracy. His mistress, Aspasia, was famed for her intelligence and beauty. She held many soirees in her house, and also participated in the political life of her time. She founded a school of philosophy and rhetoric. She was an absolute surprise in a world of men who subdued and were violent to women. The very few courtesans attended to the sexual interests of men and some, only a few, participated in philosophical meetings. Next in this undervalued social position came the concubines, many of them, only for sexual pleasures. Finally, and also insignificant in the social context, there were the wives, to procreate, cook and keep the virtue of silence. See nothing, hear nothing and say nothing was their rule of conduct. They were true slaves. In the Greek house, women lived confined in a secondary space, the hearth, the kitchen, and the gynaeceum, while the men lived in the noble space, the symposia, and the androecium. This is the heavy burden of violence against women that we received from our cultural birthplace. It is not naivety to affirm that today violence is less. Just look back and observe, among many, the specific issues that I highlighted.
João Roberto de Araújo is an author of social and emotional education books and founder of 50-50 SEL Solutions.