Original Research - Special Collection: Practical Theology

Dominant discourses on what it means to be a ‘real’ man in South Africa: The narratives of adolescent male orphans

Juanita Meyer
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 73, No 2 | a4591 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v73i2.4591 | © 2017 Juanita Meyer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 April 2017 | Published: 28 September 2017

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Juanita Meyer, Research Institute for Theology and Religion, University of South Africa, South Africa

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South Africa is known as the rainbow nation because of its variety of culture and religion. In essence South Africa is a spiritual nation, and 85.7% of her people affiliate to a Christian belief system. Despite this, crimes against women and children run rampant as some traditional male roles advocate patriarchal values that at times negatively affect relations between men and women. This article postulates that specific patriarchal values inform the development of a masculine identity, in spite of the fact that most South African families are headed by female caregivers. At the same time, however, most of these families are affected by extreme poverty and father absence; therefore, many boys are raised without an adequate male role model. This article, emanating from a broader study, explores the relationship between the development of a masculine identity amidst father absence, influenced by rapid colonisation and in the context of a specific religion and culture. It reflects on some of the narratives of the research participants that relates specifically to the theme of ‘what it means to be a real man’, eliciting the dominant discourses around masculinity and femininity in South Africa, informed by religion, traditional culture and pop culture. This article then postulates that religiosity in South Africa is not removed from the social function and performance of the social constructs of masculinity, cultural values and parental involvement and that these constructs interact with each other in a special way to produce what we come to know as the South African man.


Practical theology; Masculinity and Manhood; South Africa; Narratives


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Crossref Citations

1. Restructuring the Christian Fatherhood Model: A practical theological investigation into the ‘male problematic’ of father absence
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HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies  vol: 74  issue: 1  year: 2018  
doi: 10.4102/hts.v74i1.4870