Analysing Males in Africa: Certain Useful Elements in Considering Ruling Masculinities

In: African and Asian Studies
Author: Kopano Ratele1
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  • 1 Institute for Social and Health Sciences and Centre for Peace Action, University of South Africa, PO Box 1087, Lenasia, 1820, South Africa
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This article examines the questions why and how African males have been analysed, informed by the view that across several societies in Africa undeclared yet public gender wars of words and deeds go on daily, and may even be intensifying. It argues that though interventions with males from feminist perspectives have gained ground over the last few decades, more radical, to the gendered African worlds and masculinities have failed to materialise because analyses of boys and men's lives have tended to be blind to the imbrications of the experience of maleness with the experience of other significant social categorisations, such as being without gainful employment. Consequently, many interventions, such as those around violence against women and girls, have failed to grasp some of the critical factors underlying males' reluctance to support feminist action. The article therefore routes its examination of males through a number of categories of social-psychological experience and practice, namely (a) occupational and income attainment and, (b) age, categories theoretically tied to maleness and to practices geared towards the attainment of ruling masculinity. The article reveals the manner in which the psychosocial and the political inter-penetrate each other in the lives of African males. In conclusion, the recognition of the heterogeneous nature of masculinities also, ironically, affords mounting new feminist interventions into changing traditional ruling ideas of being a man or boy.

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