Zulu masculinity : culture, faith and the constitution in the South African context.
This dissertation focuses on Zulu men‟s interpretation of masculinity in the context of changing gender relations in South Africa. It seeks to achieve this objective by taking into consideration the cultural and faith practices that influence the formation of Zulu men‟s masculine identities. The formation of masculine identities is crucially important especially with regard to the current gendering order of society where masculinity is often implicated in the violent acts and spread of HIV. However, this study seeks to show how the advent of the democratic transition in South Africa, especially with regard to the Constitutional values of 1996, has dismantled some of the dominant cultural and faith practices of Zulu men. There are number of types of masculinities including hegemonic, subordinate, complicit, and marginal which are in contestation and tension with one other. The current level of violence against women and children, substance abuse, famicide, HIV infection, reckless driving and crime are some of the outcomes of hegemonic masculinities in turmoil. The „new way‟ of becoming men is non-violent, nurturing, and mutual in relationships, and committed to the principles of the South African Constitutional values. They represent an ideal type of being a man in South Africa that is admired by women who have lost trust in and fear men. However, the traditionalists perceive these characteristics of being a man as compromising their masculinity. Their response to change suggests that men feel disrespected in the home, community, and society are not favored by law, which now has high regard for women. In some sectors of society, women still experience “dis-empowerment” in the workplace and the home but do not necessarily project their anger on men. Instead, they join hands and challenge unjust structures, and fight to be valued as citizens in the state, home and society. Hegemonic masculinities have shown vulnerability to change which is often manifest in immature behavior, low self-esteem, uncertainty, and fear. This suggests that there is a struggle to come to terms with change in traditional masculine norms. This study has also shown that in religious institutions the gender hierarchy is evident in places of worship, images of God, understandings of Christ as man, liturgies, and use of biblical texts. Religious men tend to perceive themselves as representing and speaking on behalf of God with women relegated to submissive roles.