. Authors’ Biographies

Kopano Ratele works in the Psychology Department at the University of West­ern Cape, South Africa, where he also teaches a course on culture, psychology and masculinity in the Women and Gender Studies Programme. He has written on masculinities, sexualities, interpersonal relationships and bodies. Margrethe Silberschmidt is a social anthropologist who has carried out re­search in […]

Authors’ Biographies

the burgeoning AIDS crisis. Her principal research interests are problems of modernization, urbanization, gender-relations and sexuality, including sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS, medical anthropology and the articulation of traditional and modern health systems. She has also done long-term field stud­ies in Botswana. Jo Helle-Valle holds a doctoral degree in social anthropology from the Univer­sity of […]

Authors’ Biographies

Akosua Adomako Ampofo has carried out research on issues surrounding women’s reproductive behaviour since the late 1980s. She is a senior research fel­low at the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana (Legon), where she teaches courses in gender and research methods. She is also involved in activist and advocacy work on issues that affect […]

Contesting the ‘culture of silence’: The arere metaphor

Reference to ‘culture’ has become the sine qua non of African women’s oppression. Often both men and women validate and justify women’s marginality by referring to culture and even quoting traditional philosophies such as proverbs to entrench or institutionalize women’s oppression. Let me clarify this notion of culture. Cul­ture has both positive and negative dimensions, […]

12. Re-Conceptualizing African Gender Theory: Feminism, Womanism and the Arere Metaphor

Mary Kolawole Introduction Sexuality and gender issues in African societies have often been subsumed under various discourses, local and international, that do not adequately recognize the complexities and specificities of the reality of African societies. Gender as a cate­gory is equated with women such that gender studies are mostly assumed to focus on women’s problems. […]


In order to understand men, masculinity and sexuality in rural and urban East Af­rica it has been necessary to locate men and women within the complex and changing social, political and economic systems. As my research from both rural Kisii and urban Dar es Salaam shows, sexuality and sexual behaviour do not occur in a […]

Masculinity/ies and sexuality

Masculinity (and femininity)—just like gender and sexuality[128]—does not simply reflect a biological ‘given’—but is largely a product of cultural and social process­es (Ortner and Whitehead 1981; Connell 1995; Gagnon and Parker 1995, Bourdieu 1998 and many more). Thus, neither masculinity nor sexuality are con­stant factors but change along with different historical and social structures, the […]