Gender / Masculinity / Women

Zama Ndlovu: Manhood and Myth

Below is a link to an interesting and well-tweeted article by Zama Ndlovu published on Times Live on 16 October 2012. I also paste one response to the article.

Ndlovu’s point is about gender roles in changed world, or a changing society at least. But her article seems to have been triggered by an episode Dali Tambo’s new People of the South television show which featured Helen Zille, premier of the Western Cape and leader of the Democratic Alliance, and her family. Her main objection is the line of questioning that Tambo took in probing the gender/sex roles in the family of Helen Zille.

Perhaps doing good television means knowing just what kind of gender, culture, race and other kinds of controversies to stoke, because as Ndlovu observes, “nuance doesn’t make for great television.”

Or it may be that Dali Tambo’s deserve watching for his the views he channels on what it means to be a man or woman, black or white, traditionalist or modernist, in today’s South Africa.  To watch so as to disagree or agree.

Whichever it is, after a ten-year hiatus Dali Tambo is back to make talked-about tv. And the tv show was controversial from the first day when he had President Jacob Zuma as a guest. In that episode the first citizen expressed his happiness about his daughter Duduzile’s then recent marriage thus: “I was also happy because I wouldn’t want to stay with daughters who are not getting married. Because that in itself is a problem in society. I know that people today think being single is nice. It’s actually not right. That’s a distortion. You’ve got to have kids. Kids are important to a woman because they actually give an extra training to a woman, to be a mother.”

Single women are a problem in society? A distortion? Kids are extra-training for a woman? Now why did the president go and say that and make deniability that much harder? You can imagine how that got many gender activists, queer voices, and women and men who don’t want to have children up in arms. It did.

Back to Zama Ndlovu and Dali Tambo. It seems there is much about masculinity and femininity in Dali Tambo, some of which can be displeasing to an independent African woman. Ndlovu, for one, doesn’t think some of the gender questions Tambo asked about the roles played by Ms Zille and her husband Professor Johann Maree in their home is helpful if the aim is to undo stereotypical roles.

The article can be accessed here: http://www.timeslive.co.za/opinion/columnists/2012/10/16/manhood-and-myth

And the response to the article can be accessed here: http://www.timeslive.co.za/ilive/2012/10/17/manhood-and-myth-ilive

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