Extreme Violence Is A Result Of Toxic Masculinity
By Alvine Kapitako
Society conditions men to bottle up their emotions instead of expressing themselves in a healthy way, explained Delene van Dyk – a psychosexual educator from South Africa – during a three-day workshop aimed at preventing the stigma and discrimination experienced by key populations under the Key Populations Representation, Evidence and Advocacy for Change in Health (KP REACH) regional programme, in which SAfAIDS is the technical lead.
Caption (Delene): Delene van Dyk, a psychosexual educator from South Africa.
“Africa is marinated in misogyny,” Van Dyk said at the recent workshop in Windhoek, adding that violence is perpetuated by toxic masculinity. According to the Good Men Project blog, this is a narrow and repressive description of manhood that designates it as being defined by violence, sex, status and aggression.
She indicated that even the kinds of toys associated with boys and girls create a dualistic, ‘them and us’ view of gender identity and expression. For example, if a boy is seen playing with a doll, he may be labelled as gay, yet no scientific study has conclusively proven that a boy who plays with a doll as a child will turn out to be gay later in life. In fact, boys who play with dolls learn about caring and nurturing compassion, which will help them become emotionally balanced adults.
She was presenting her ‘Binaries and Boxes (Or Not!)’ model, a sensitisation approach that aims to demystify the intricacies of human sexuality and clarify the differences between gender identity and expression, and sexual orientation. Delene has trained close to 20,000 people on issues related to sexuality and gender identity and expression, in Africa and beyond.
During the session, participants gained a better understanding of various concepts affecting human sexuality including: issues around the sex assigned at birth; gender as a social construct; sexual orientation as intimate attraction and identity; and sexual behaviour.
Eight countries: Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho and Swaziland, are included under the programme, which has identified KP REACH champions in five sectors: health, justice, political, religious and traditional leaders. KP REACH supports the champions to carry out advocacy to reduce stigma and discrimination as barriers to HIV prevention, testing and treatment services among key populations.