Ezra Chitando – « Masculinities, religion, and sexualities »

Ezra Chitando – « Masculinities, religion, and sexuality »

1. Introduction

There is a growing interest in the field of masculinities globally. In order to highlight the dynamics around masculinities, religion and sexualities, this article utilizes the African context. Masculinities globally and in Africa have come under serious contestation. The forces, spheres and modes of contestation are as multiple as they are intense. These pressures are due to rapid social change where notions of men as ‘bread winners’ have been exploded, the assertive African women’s movement, the impact of missionary religions such as Christianity and Islam, as well as the effectively organized lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) movement and others. African Traditional Religions have also been undergoing rapid transformation as they adjust to changing social realities. Whereas the earlier assumptions around masculinity were built on heteronormativity and tended to gloss over internal differences, it is becoming increasingly clear that there are diverse ways of expressing one’s maleness. Therefore, there is a clear turn towards appreciating that there are masculinities in the plural, including in Africa.[1] There is a growing realization that masculinities are definitely not uniform and that they are expressed in diverse and sometimes conflicting ways.

This article seeks to highlight the interpenetration among religion, masculinities and sexualities. In the first section, the article outlines the major themes in the study of masculinities. The second section discusses the interplay among Christianity, masculinities and sexualities. It has three parts that focus on straight, gay and celibate sexualities. The third section highlights some of the strategic areas that can assist in promoting transformative masculinities and sexualities.

[1] See for example, Lahoucine Ouzgane and Robert Morrell (eds.), African Masculinities: Men in Africa from the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.