Blacks / Feminist / Gender / Masculinity / Men / Race / Tradition

Love and Happiness in Young Black Men’s Lives

Last week on Wednesday 25 July, Mandisa Malinga (M.A), an intern at the University of South Africa’s Institute for Social and Health Sciences, gave a presentation on the abovementioned title at the 30th International Congress of Psychology held in Cape Town, South Africa. The presentation was based on a study undertaken by Mandisa on our behalf on discourses of love and tradition in the making of black manhood. This is the second study on love and men I am doing with interns. The first was with Candice Rule, our 2011 intern. Candice’s interests, and self-identification, directed her to focus on coloured men (and women) and love. I will post something on that study in the near future.

Mandisa Malinga talking to high school students from Khanyolwethu High School in Lwandle, Strand, Western Cape, June 16 2012. (c) Kopano Ratele

It was Mandisa’s first conference presentation, I should mention. What a stage for her to make an entry to the wider world of academia and mess up old Hendrik Verwoerd’s plans of white patriarchal domination – and both of the first two terms that qualify that domination are of equal importance.

I don’t know about the corner of the universe where you find yourself, but around these parts it is still man’s world. And, with a president like Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, in small metaphorical village where I live, because at times things can look black, it helps quite a bit if the man’s white and comfortable. As for myself, then, I can’t always get over it when I see these awfully smart and fabulous black women acting like the world was made just for them – for it wasn’t. Makes you tremble, with fear or fury, if you fail to see the irony.

Anyhow, here is the abstract of the presented paper: 

South African literature shows that relative to other groups, blacks, specifically black males, are at heightened risk of various psychological, social and economic problems. Two problems with these studies are that they tend to approach black men from a risk and deficit perspective, and the models of masculinity uncritically applied in assessing black men’s behaviour are imported from the West. A few studies have gone beyond a risk approach, calling attention to alternative discourses of manhood and questions related to how good black men are built. In the present study, which centralises a critical promotive approach in understanding the making of generative masculinity in African traditions, we delved into the significance of positive emotions in the construction of masculinities. The study examined the place of love and happiness in constructions of masculinities. Participants in and outside of steady heterosexual relationships were recruited. In order to understand the influence of traditions on meanings men give to their emotional and gendered lives, we looked for subjects who had recently moved from rural to urban areas to compare with those born in urban areas. Adopting feminist qualitative methodology, men were interviewed individually as well as in focus groups. A culturally-informed critical discourse analysis was used to analyse the material. We present some of the findings as to how love and happiness are understood, whether they are seen as important, and what role they play men’s lives and constructions of masculinity.

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