‘There is no political system in which the spectacle of two men fighting is not a striking, if unintended, image of the political impotence of most men.’ (Oates 1987: 63)

The meaning of male violence should be a central concern of Gender and Development (GAD) discourse and practice. Patriarchal values and structures are both expressed and maintained by ‘men fighting’, in both public and private domains. In widely differing societies, male violence continues to distort women’s (and men’s) lives in psychic, emotional, cultural, political and socioeconomic terms. Men’s ‘natural aggression’ is often invoked as a defining characteristic of an irreducible gender difference and as a explanation for the gendered hierarchical arrangements in the political and economic lives of richer and poorer countries alike. The vision of a world beyond gender hierarchy, implicit in the GAD ‘project’, must confront the spectacle of men fighting.

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