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Gender and Sexualities in Education

A Reader

Series:

Edited By Elizabeth J. Meyer and Dennis Carlson

This volume is about the education of gender and sexualities, which is to say it explores how gender and sexuality identities and differences get constructed through the process of education and «schooling». Wittingly or not, educational institutions and educators play an important role in «normalizing» gender and sexuality differences by disciplining, regulating, and producing differences in ways that are «intelligible» within the dominant or hegemonic culture. To make gender and sexuality identities and differences intelligible through education is to understand them through the logic of separable binary oppositions (man-woman, straight-gay), and to valorize and privilege one normalized identity within each binary (man, straight) and simultaneously stigmatize and marginalize the «other» identity (woman, gay). Educational institutions have been set up to normalize the construction of gender and sexual identities in these ways, and this is both the overt and the «hidden» curriculum of schooling. At the same time, the «postmodern» times in which we live are characterized by a proliferating of differences so that the binary oppositional borders that have been maintained and policed through schooling, and that are central to maintaining highly inequitable power relations and rigid gender roles, are being challenged, resisted, and in other ways profoundly destabilized by young people today.
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8. Becoming a Responsible Boy: Contesting Masculinity in Rural Zimbabwe

Introduction

Extract

Chapter 8

Becoming a Responsible Boy

Contesting Masculinity in Rural Zimbabwe

Alfred Masinire

Gender issues in Zimbabwe have been predominantly construed as girl issues, particularly in the education sector. Boys and issues of masculinity are viewed as the cause of gender inequality. Often, this results in an early closure of how masculinities are constructed. Consequently, boys are excluded from programs that are designed to bring about gender equality.

This chapter examines how hegemonic, patriarchal ideas of masculinity are challenged by young, rural, high school boys in a context that is impacted by forces of colonization, rurality, and globalization in Zimbabwe. Drawing on the concept of multiple masculinities (Connell, 1995, 2009) and also theories about globalization, this chapter provides insights into the specific conditions of postcoloniality in Zimbabwe under which rural, high school boys come to understand and to constitute themselves in ways that are often overshadowed in current debates and discussions about gender equity in the Global South.

The chapter concludes by arguing that responsibility is central to boys’ understanding and practice of masculinity, contrary to dominant public discourse about gender inequity in Zimbabwe. In a way, the chapter provides an entry point for educators committed to building a deeper understanding of and knowledge about masculinities as a basis for working with students to bring about gender justice in schools outside of neocolonial and the familiar recuperative masculinity frames of reference.

As a principal for eight...

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