Race silence: the oversignification of black men in “the crisis of/in masculinities” in post-apartheid South Africa
The “crisis in/of masculinity” is a concept now used worldwide to draw attention to problems confronting men, despite its American origin focused on documenting the responses of men to changing work and family structures. In the context of South Africa, the concept has been further used, especially, in the analysis of such social phenomena as gender-based violence and unemployment. While this gendered lens has offered useful insights it has also relied heavily on a primary focus on the negative elements of masculine attitudes and behaviours. Moreover, in the South African context, the concentration on black men’s experiences has given exaggerated emphasis to the destructive and anti-social aspects of such experiences, which have also been incorporated into both thin and thick descriptions of a general construction of “black masculinities”. The result, as this article shows with regards to an analysis of certain South African research
on “black masculinities”, is that black men are held responsible for social ills. The article examines debates dealing with representations of “black masculinities” in South Africa and urges for more complex analyses of such masculinities. Such analyses should take into account the nuanced ways in which both “hegemonic masculinities” and “black masculinities” are constituted and contested.