Allowing Men to Care

Jain, S., Greene, M., Douglas, Z., Betron, M., & Fritz, K.

In South Africa, the end of apartheid in 1994 affected many things, including gender relations. Many men support government efforts to achieve the vision of a gender-equitable society as articulated in South Africa’s Constitution and Bill of Rights. However, men still face widespread pressures to express their manhood in more traditional ways, such as authority figures in relationships with their wives and children. While such traditional male norms give men greater decision-making power, they also limit who they are and what they can do. Many men fear being mocked—by men and women—if they enter the kitchen, care for their children, or make decisions jointly with their wives. Some fear being seen as weak if they go to a health clinic because they are sick. They may feel pressure to have many sexual partners. And a substantial number are encouraged—by the examples of men around them and by society’s failure to fully implement laws on domestic and sexual violence—to abuse women and children.