The Polyphony Of Violence Is Looking For A Master

Nune Hakhverdyan

Art critic, journalist

In recent days, social networking has created a tremendous wave of posts using the hashtag #the_voice_of_violence, which made a long history of sexual violence (including ripe, and even rotten), unconscious (or conscious but well-concealed) domestic violence, pedophilia, incest, sexual intercourse as a form of punishment, or in the cases of unsatisfied sex lives more visible. 

Much has coincided with the Armenian social networking sector, which was shocked, becoming anonymous and a reader of scary stories, and eventually a witness as well. Facebook user Lucy Kocharyan spread these stories and circulated the hashtag. 

The stories fell onto fertile soil, because before that society had already been acquainted with the article by Hetq about the Czech artist who was subjected to violence and its consequences, as well as the story of the Khachatryan sisters who, before murdering their father, had been subjected to violence and sexual assault over the course of years, and the subsequent protest rallies. 

In the media, there were various flares on violence and rape, but the issue was never so widespread. There was also no public response to this problem. 

There are things that you don’t want to know, hear or even imagine are possible. But #the_voice_of_violence is forcing you to hear and accept that they are possible. 

Any treatment and cleansing begins with the acceptance of the fact. You do not shut your eyes, you do not mock and ridicule the victims of violence, rather you accept that their voices may not be pleasant. 

Silent acceptance with sexual violence in a family or public environment, the lack of course in law enforcement agencies and media pages stigmatizing the victims of violence, citing shame and the threat of crossing them out in the future, after all, the stoning of discouraged inter-marital ties and the blackmailing of virginity has, of course, always existed. 

But it was invisible and unheard of. It was as a mythical impossibility. For example, now, when violence against the Khachatryan sisters has been proven and documented, many (mainly representatives of the Armenian community) accuse the sisters, saying that an Armenian father could not do such things, and the sisters were making it up. 

Conservative societies have a clear attitude towards victims of violence. 

It seems that conservative ideal is solid, unchanged, and violence shakes, is an anomaly that must be removed and concealed in order to help preserve this imaginary strength. 

In fact, the opposite is that in a patriarchal, conservative society, the destiny of individuals is becoming more irreversible. And even the gender is not important, the rapist is also a victim until they are punished.

It’s natural that under the stories with the hashtag #the_voice_of_violence the Armenian sector of social networks would react and respond with a storm of emotion, showing all the complexities in its society. 

Networks also have the effect of opening conversations, as users think that they are protected on networks with the right to express their personal opinions more than in real life. In the networks, people say what they would not say while looking into the eyes of the other person.  It is easier to be a user of violence on networks. 

Those who speak against the massive spread of anonymous sexual cases, those who question their authenticity and who promote unpleasant discussions about the distributor’s personality, are well aware that there is one irreversible truth- the victim is not to blame in any case.  

Neither victims of rape, murders or genocide are guilty. 

Even if we live in the diversity of interpretations, opinions and positions, when the reality is unrecognizable, there are still truths beyond any doubt. 

And the important thing is it is unacceptable to blame the one who is subjected to violence. 

By the way, the Ottoman empire did the same thing, saying that Armenians were to blame for the genocide. 

It is simply disgusting when the critics of the victims try to appear original, that is in a “postmodernist” style try to mock the right of being a victim. 

In fact, any mockery (look at this person, who are you to talk?), accusatory (if you weren’t attractive they wouldn’t rape you), repugnant (how come they don’t rape me, and they rape you, then it means you gave them a chance), breaks the simple truth without which the order of the world becomes chaos, there are things that are simply not permissible. 

Being harassed and raped is not permissible. And it is not permissible to keep silent about these events, even if it is for the sake of not ruining a delicate spiritual calm. 

But as we can see the mockery of #the_voice_of_violence is being done with pleasure. They bubble up against the victims, as they identify themselves not with the victim but rather the one who administered violence. And they are seeking excuses. 

Armenian cruelty is also unique (in the end we love to say that we are different, we are centuries old, wear deep), our cruelty is also different, deep, despicable and unmatched. Cruelty, violence is difficult to notice if they are the norm. 

If the norm is silence, speaking is considered a violation of the norm. 

There have been no serious conversations in patriarchal psychology, that victims of violence are vulnerable, as long as the tradition of silence still functions.

In Armenian reality, the summer of 2019 will remain a unique case, when the media scandal left a useful footprint.  

It has shown that we have started to talk, even though it is still anonymous and stealthy, but we are already imagining that any individual story is a link to a larger problem.

And it is desirable that the audible voices transition as smoothly as possible from anonymous, thereby protected and confidential (in this case, from social network) to visible so that they will not be afraid to speak on their behalf and look at the public eye without expecting shame. 

Preserving a formal display of decentness in a friendly and family environment is the greatest retroactive trap. That trap swallows the future.

And the flashmob movement, which began in Armenia like #metoo, must have its owner in order not to be erased and to reach a result. Maybe it’s a hoax, but the owner is the public. 

More precisely, well-known women of the public, who can definitely add to this movement, but at this point with their own faces (and bodies). 

The most famous slogan of the world, which sounds like “Freedom, equality, brotherhood” can at the very least in very few cases be understood as “sisterhood.” 

If anonymous and unidentified women have the courage to speak, the well-known and extremely brave ones can also speak. The word sisterhood wouldn’t sound empty and artificial…

Nune Hakhverdyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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