Given the high levels of gender based violence in South Africa generally and in our universities in particular, there is an urgent need to examine the very notion of masculinity. Uyinene Mrwetyana, Precious Ramabulana, Simukelo Zondi are just some of the student cases of GBV at the extreme. What is most disturbing is that our universities ought to be safe spaces for learning, thinking and being, and yet they have shown themselves to not only be unsafe but also not, ironically, the places to look for ‘the new free man’.

In this ENGAGE, we examine men and masculinity in the context of the university, patriarchy and colonialism. We shall begin with a decisive lesson from an event in 2015 at one of the universities during the RhodesMustFall moment, connecting what transpired to the broader calls for decolonising the university and knowledge. We will shift to the present and discuss some results of a national survey on masculinity at universities. We shall turn around and speak to the invitation to properly and critically locate the work on masculinities in the situation in which we exist, a situation haunted by debilitating racialised economic inequality and atmospheric violence. And we will arrive at the question, what if we were to work towards loving masculinities at universities and society.

Prof Kopano Ratele is an international leading voice in thinking, writing, research, and public engagement activities directly and indirectly flow out of critical men and masculinity studies on one hand, and critical and cultural African psychological studies on the other. His books included Liberating Masculinities (2016) and Why Men Hurt Women (2022). Join us on Tuesday, 30 May 2023 (14:00-15:30). After Prof Ratele’s input there will be ample time for questions and comments from the participants.