Masculinity / Men

Liberating masculinities



Liberating masculinities is a new book by Kopano Ratele. This is what he says in the first chapter, “Men no longer rule over their families”.

I often address groups of men and women, go on radio and appear on television to talk on the subject of masculinity and femininity. So I have come to hear that some individuals might be genuinely confused about gender change and the interrogation of masculinity. I now recognise why some people are resistant towards the changing gender and sexual relations and want to keep the ‘traditional’ models for being a man or a woman. I am aware that in different ways some are angry and frustrated. These negative emotions, however genuine, are too often taken out on others, often those closest to them, physically or sexually. But sometimes they are also directed internally, against the self, through the abuse of alcohol or drugs. Hence, although it sounds trite, South African society and its cultures are in the middle of a sweeping gender and sexual transition that in turn is changing the very nature of society. Where some men, perhaps even many men, are experiencing psychological distress for no longer being in power over women’s demand for choice and decision-making, as well as lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex persons’ claims for equality and recognition, we are called to work through the transition with them to work through their grief and confusion. We need to liberate men from oppressive and injurious models of masculinity. In a new society, we all need blueprints of how to be new sexual and gender subjects so as to better live with each other’s emergent identities (16-17).

The book, published by HSRC Press, is needlessly expensive. It doesn’t seem to be available from some bookstores, but independent outlets like Clarke’s Books and Book Lounge have stock. It can also be ordered from


4 thoughts on “Liberating masculinities

  1. This is a critical resource that not only speaks to changing gender relations in South Africa but Sub+Sahara Africa as a whole. In Uganda for instance, there are emerging narratives in the media on “Men being battered” by women in high positions. This piece offers hope to systematically theorise the place of men amidst such changes.

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