There is no doubt that our understanding of masculinity, in fact, the way in which men inhabit masculinity every day, is informed by the prevailing norms of the society that we have grown up in. The fact that the current version of masculinity is at the centre of many of the world’s ills like rape and GBV should be a clear enough message that we have an identity crisis happening right here and now. And this identity crisis impacts everyone.
Masculinity, the attributes, roles, behaviours and actions that express it need to be re-examined because the world needs something different from men. Despite many positive changes that have taken place over the past decade, masculinity is still very much linked to measurements that are neither healthy for men, nor women.
Men are still taught, explicitly by their fathers (and sometimes other family members) or implicitly by society or through media consumption, that these are the criteria for the measurement of a manly-man:
Strength (Be tough)
Lack of emotion (Boys don’t cry – Man Up)
Self-sufficiency (I don’t need anyone else’s help)
Dominance (Winning at all costs and I am the man-of-the-house)
Sexual virility (Male ‘scoring’ revered)
While these mistaken measurements of what it takes to be a man are not solely responsible for GBV they certainly play a big part in the scourge that can be found in almost every country.
Catch Gavin Moffat as he delivers his talk: Mistaken identity: Recalibrating masculinity for a better tomorrow on the University of South Africa/Universiteit van Suid-Afrika TEDx Stage this year.