Toxic masculinity causes extreme violence

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Alvine Kapitako

Windhoek-Society is conditioned in such a way that men are expected to bottle up their emotions instead of expressing themselves in a healthy way, Delene van Dyk, a psychosexual educator from South Africa, explained in a three-day workshop, aimed at preventing stigma and discrimination experienced by Key Populations.

Van Dyk said violence is perpetuated by toxic masculinity. “Africa is marinated in misogyny,” she asserted at the workshop being held in Windhoek that started on Monday.

She indicated that even the kind of toys that are associated with boys and girls create a binaried expectation of gender identity and expression. Through societal conditioning, when a boy is seen playing with a doll, he might be labelled as gay.

Van Dyk said 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. On the other hand, she noted, when boys can play with dolls, they learn about caring and nurturing compassion, which will assist in them to become emotionally balanced adults. There is a distinct difference between gender identity and expression and sexual orientation.

She was speaking during a presentation of the “Binaries and Boxes (Or Not!) model, which was developed as a sensitisation approach, with the aim to demystify the intricacies of human sexuality.

A better understanding of sex assigned at birth, gender as a social construct, sexual orientation as intimate attraction and identity, and sexual behaviour was affirmed during the session.

She has trained close to 20 000 people in Africa and beyond, on issues related to sexuality and gender identity and expression.

The Key Populations Representation, Evidence and Advocacy for Change in Health (KP REACH) program is a regional program lead by the South African HIV and AIDS Information Dissemination Services (SAfAIDS).

Eight countries including Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho and Swaziland are represented. The KP REACH Champions represent four sectors, namely health, justice, political, religious and traditional leaders. These Champions are supported to implement advocacy strategies to prevent stigma and discrimination as a barrier to HIV Prevention, testing and treatment services among Key Populations.

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