In one of my ethics classes a few years back, I had been discussing typical ideas of masculinity with my students. Many of them had the stereotypical, patriarchal notion that manhood is “where the man wears the pants in the house” and “he takes control”. In fact, some of the responses were so blatantly chauvinistic that I think it is only fair to share them with you:
1.) 1.) Women belong in the house.
2.) The woman’s place is the house and the man should be working.
3.) In the house, the woman’s place is the kitchen and the man controls everything else.
4.) Women should be taking care of the children and men should provide for the family.
5.) Women shouldn’t talk back to, or argue with, a man when he speaks.
6.) When a man puts a broom in your hand, you don’t hang on the broom and chat with the neighbours.
7.) When I’m married and get home I expect my food to be waiting for me.
Finally, the one I found amusing to some degree:
8.) Whatever I ask for, my woman must provide it. Meat is meat and a man must eat...that goes for all aspects of my life.
My main concern here is not so much the responses that these guys gave; in fact, I completely understand their viewpoint and sympathise with them. My main concern lies with whether they actually believe in what they are saying and act on these system of beliefs. Before you judge me as chauvinistic, allow me to explain.
In many spheres of our lives, what we have come to entrench as characteristic traits, beliefs and, more globally, worldviews are in fact taught to us through association. Put simply, we learn to behave from our surroundings and environment; the school of hard knocks. Often, our parents teach us a certain way of believing as they teach us lessons, whether it be racial beliefs through domestic commentary or hegemonic notions of sexuality, both normative and performative, within our homes.
Our parents can be forgiven for the way that they interpret the world, because they too know no better. All that they know is that which they have been associated into by their parents. Likewise, our generation is affected and effected by notions taught in the apartheid school of thought, a perpetual cycle of intertextuality and interdiscursivity that traps us in a loop of discrimination bereft of cessation.
Hegemonic notions of masculinity are perpetuated from the grassroots levels of our communities and can be seen to infiltrate even the elite of our society. Polygamy from our “First Citizen” is a salient example that many of our male South Africans look towards as an ideal.
Philosopher Kahlil Gibran discusses the notion that an action becomes a learned habit and this habit, performed daily, becomes our slavery. Indeed so. When our daily lives are saturated with the notions that femininity is something that is committed to the realms of subordination to male superordination, then the only freedom from the shackles of our patriarchal oppression is the daily, conscious choice to refute notions that a man is superior to a woman. Instead, we should consider that, on the level of humanity, we are all equals.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.