Throughout the ages and across the world, men are taught from early on in life to believe that violence is their prerogative and their right. Though patriarchal and male-dominated, our societies have laws and institutions, of course, to somewhat mitigate such instincts, which is what makes them civilized.
Nevertheless, what seems to prevail almost like the 11th commandment of some unwritten Mosaic Law and is espoused by societies regardless of religion, is the deeply rooted belief that men can ultimately do whatever they like, because they’re men. We see this in its most brutal and merciless versions, but also in more whimsical versions. Like in the popular classic Greek film “Laterna, ftocheia kai filotimo,” where stars Vassilis Avlonitis, Mimis Fotopoulos and Tolis Charmas dance to music by Manos Hadjidakis, singing “I’m a man, and I’ll do what I want.”
A group of men in Thessaloniki who are accused of gang-raping a young woman at a New Year’s party also appear to have been doing what they wished at the gathering in a hotel in the northern port city. Whether this is something of a holiday custom with them – like playing cards is for others, for example – and whether they like to share their “pleasures” with other men of a similar ilk, is something that we hope will be revealed in due course by the investigations of the country’s judicial authorities.
We also hope that – as has often been the case in the past – these investigations do not run up against mouths closed by fear or self-interest, or against the shields that sometimes protect those with powerful names and with pockets fat enough to employ slippery lawyers and, on occasion, pay off the guardians of the law.
We owe our support and gratitude to the courageous woman who came forward, and in doing so risked another – public – violation. The main culprits are the sundry pundits reporting from the gutters of the traditional and social media, but also those who ask such despicable questions as: “How did the rape victim end up in the suite?” Like former European commissioner for health, education and culture Androulla Vassiliou of Cyprus, who had to take down her social media post asking just that after it caused an outcry.
And if the first, spontaneous reaction by a woman who is an academic and a politician with experience in the ways of power is so steeped in misogyny, just imagine what is going on in the heads of those who actually believe that men are men and are empowered by nature – if not by God himself – to do as they like.