Narratives of young South African fathers: redefining masculinity through fatherhood

Posted by Share-Net NL on August 11, 2014 at 10:56 am

In the new South Africa gender role constructions are slowly shifting, this article explores early fatherhood as a potential site for the development of alternative masculinities. Existing research tends to cast young men as subjects of risk factor vulnerability and negative outcomes who become uninvolved fathers. The narrative data from young men in this study contradict this view. The analysis reveals that young men deliberately shift their life focus and actively renegotiate their identity through the choice to take responsibility for their children. They structure their personal goals and their relationships with families and partners in terms of providing emotional and financial stability for their child. Fatherhood becomes a highly valorised masculine identity. These young men resolve the tension between the pursuit of hegemonic gender ideals and determination to act as caregivers to their children, thus casting fatherhood as a site to challenge stereotypes of irresponsible young men and absent fathers. This study indicates that young fathers are not invisible and that early fatherhood is a potentially transformative force in the construction of masculinities which include provision, protection and caring.

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Author: Enderstein, A.M., Boonzaier, F.
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