South Africa: What Do We Tell Our Boys?


Once, we had very definite parts to play along with clear gender roles. Many men are floundering when coming to the question, 'What is the role of a man?'

Parents and guardians of boys in South Africa are having serious talks with them about gender violence. A series of high-profile attacks on women across the country have forced these interactions. These conversations are similar to what African-American parents have with their teenage boys on what to do if confronted by the police - and have become an uncomfortable, but necessary, rite of passage.

In SA's case, it is about how young men need to man up in the way they treat women.

For the most part, these conversations have a series of don'ts. Don't hit a woman. Don't force a woman. Don't touch a woman. Don't! Don't! Don't!

While the intention is noble, it has serious flaws. By starting and ending the conversation along these lines, it does not solve the root problem.

The problem is the warped and flawed version of what it is to be a man. Especially in a world where the role of women has changed so much.

Once, we had very definite parts to play...

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