Making Masculinities on the Street

Exploring Street Boys’ Everyday Relationships on the Streets of Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo

in Boyhood Studies
View More View Less
Restricted access

Abstract

Raewyn Connell's seminal texts, including Masculinities (1995), The Men and the Boys (2000), and others have contributed to a nuanced understanding of masculinities as both contextual and relational, including gendered power relations, division of labor, emotional relations, and symbolism. This article seeks to extend Connell's approach by using this nuanced lens of masculinities to examine the lives of boys living on the streets of a city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The article highlights the experiences of everyday relationships over three years for 19 street boys, aged 13–18, and the role of city spaces in their lives. It suggests that the spatiality and temporality of street boys’ relationships shape their masculine practices and identities, as played out in their everyday interactions with each other and with girls, women, and men as part of their daily survival. A mosaic of street masculinities emerges, that is both fluid and complex, shedding light on previously unexplored masculinities in an understudied group and part of the world.

Contributor Notes

Thandie Hlabana is Lecturer in Sociology and Demography at the National University of Lesotho. Thandie's research focuses on gendered identities, particularly boys’ and young men's masculinities. She has recently worked on projects focused on rural youth livelihoods and intergenerational relations in sub-Saharan Africa and the impacts of COVID-19 in Lesotho. In 2020, Thandie held a Fellowship at the University of Dundee as part of the “Growing up on the Streets Fellowship Program: Building Capacity and Creating Influence”, working with van Blerk, Hunter, and other fellows on secondary data analysis. thandiek@hotmail.com/tk.hlabana@nul.ls

Lorraine van Blerk is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Dundee and Honorary Professor at the Children's Institute, University of Cape Town. Lorraine specializes in participatory and co-produced research focusing on the impacts of inequalities and sociocultural change in the lives of children and youth, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. She has published extensively on the lives of street children and youth and has advocated for their voices to be included in policy and practice. She is Principal Investigator on the “Growing up on the Streets Fellowship Program: Building Capacity and Creating Influence”, working with Hlabana, Hunter, and other fellows on secondary data analysis. l.c.vanblerk@dundee.ac.uk

Janine Hunter is a Researcher in Geography at the University of Dundee, specializing in participatory research, qualitative analysis, and co-produced impacts for projects with street children and youth, refugees, and trafficked people. Janine is undertaking a (part-time) PhD on relationships of love and intimacy among street youths in Accra, Ghana. She is Researcher and Co-Investigator in the “Growing up on the Streets Fellowship Program: Building Capacity and Creating Influence”, working with Hlabana, van Blerk, and two other fellows on secondary data analysis. j.u.hunter@dundee.ac.uk

Boyhood Studies

An Interdisciplinary Journal

  • Abdool Karim, Quarraisha. 2005. “Heterosexual Transmission of HIV: The Importance of a Gendered Perspective in HIV Prevention.” In HIV/AIDS in South Africa, ed. Salim S. Abdool Karim and Quarraisha Abdool Karim, 243261. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Aptekar, Lewis, and Daniel Stoecklin. 2014. “Group Dynamics of Children in Street Situations.” In Street Children and Homeless Youth: A Cross-Cultural Perspective, 63120. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Beazley, Harriot. 2003. “The Construction and Protection of Individual and Collective Identities by Street Children and Youth in Indonesia.” Children, Youth and Environments 13 (1): 105133.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Broqua, Christopher., and Anne Doquet. 2013. “Examining Masculinities in Africa and Beyond.” Cahiers d'études Africaines 2013 (209–210): 941.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Butler, Judith. 1990. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge.

  • Connell, Raewyn. W., and James Messerschmidt. 2005. “Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept.” Gender & Society 19 (6): 82959. doi:10.1177/0891243205278639.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Connell, Raewyn W. 1987. Gender and Power: Society, the Person and Sexual Politics. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

  • Connell, Raewyn W. 1995. Masculinities. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

  • Connell, Raewyn W. 2000. The Men and the Boys. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

  • Deibert, Michael. 2013. The Democratic Republic of Congo: Between Hope and Despair. London: Zed Books.

  • Baaz, Maria E., and Maria. Stern. 2009. “Why Do Soldiers Rape? Masculinity, Violence, and Sexuality in the Armed Forces in the Congo (DRC).” International Studies Quarterly 53 (2): 495518. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2478.2009.00543.x.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Geenen, Kristien. 2009. “‘Sleep Occupies No Space’: The Use of Public Space by Street Gangs in Kinshasa.” Africa 79 (3): 347368. doi:10.3366/E0001972009000850.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Heilmann, Andreas, and Sylka Scholz. 2017. “Caring Masculinities.” Feminist Studies 35 (2): 345353. doi:10.1515/fs-2017-0036.

  • Heinonen, Paula. 2011. Youth Gangs and Street Children: Culture, Nurture and Masculinity in Ethiopia. Oxford: Berghahn Books.

  • Hubbard, Phil, and Dawn Lyon. 2018. “Introduction: Streetlife—The Shifting Sociologies of the Street.” The Sociological Review 66 (5): 937951. doi:10.1177/0038026118771281.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hamilton, Laura T., Elizabeth A. Armstrong, J. Lotus. Seeley, and Elizabeth M. Armstrong. 2019. “Hegemonic Femininities and Intersectional Domination.” Sociological Theory 37 (4): 315341. doi:10.1177/0735275119888248.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hunter, Janine, Lorraine van Blerk, and Ward Shand. 2020. “The Influence of Peer Relationships on Young People's Sexual Health in Sub-Saharan African Street Contexts.” Social Science & Medicine: 113285 [online first]. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.113285.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kaufman, Michael, ed. 1987. Beyond Patriarchy: Essays by Men on Pleasure, Power, and Change. New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Kimmel, Michael. 1996. Manhood in America. New York: The Free Press.

  • Lwambo, Desiree. 2013‘Before the War, I Was a Man’: Men and Masculinities in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.” Gender & Development 21 (1): 4766. doi:10.1080/13552074.2013.769771.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Messerschmidt, James W. 2019. “The Salience of ‘Hegemonic Masculinity.’Men and Masculinities 22 (1): 8591. doi:10.1177/1097184X18805555.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mfecane, Sakhumzi. 2018. “Towards African-Centred Theories of Masculinity.” Social Dynamics 44 (2): 291305. doi:10.1080/02533952.2018.1481683.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mikkola, Mari. 2008. “Feminist Perspectives on Sex and Gender.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy (Fall 2019 ed.), ed. Edward. N. Zalta. https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2019/entries/feminism-gender/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Morrell, Robert. 1998. “Of Boys and Men: Masculinity and Gender in Southern African Studies.” Journal of Southern African Studies 24 (4): 605630. doi:10.1080/03057079808708593.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Oxlund, Bjarke. 2010. “Let's Talk About Sex: Comparing Notes from Qualitative Research on Men, Relationships and Sex in South Africa and Rwanda.” In Studying Intimate Matters: Engaging Methodological Challenges in Studies of Gender, Sexuality and Reproductive Health in sub-Saharan Africa, ed. Barbara A. Barrett, and Christian Groes-Green, 86-119. Kampala: Fountain House Publishers.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Parsons, Talcott. 1970. Social Structure and Personality. New York: Free Press of Glencoe.

  • Pattman, Rob. 2007. “Researching Boys and Young Men in Southern Africa in the Context of HIV/AIDS: A Radical Approach.” In From Boys to Men: Social Constructions of Masculinity in Contemporary Society, ed. Kopano Ratele and Tamara Shefer, 3349. Cape Town: UCT Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Pype, Katrien. 2007. “Fighting Boys, Strong Men and Gorillas: Notes on the Imagination of Masculinities in Kinshasa.” Africa 77 (2): 250271. doi:10.3366/afr.2007.77.2.250.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ratele, Kopano. 2006. “Ruling Masculinity and Sexuality.” Feminist Africa 6 (6): 4864.

  • Ratele, Kopano. 2008. “Analysing Males in Africa: Certain Useful Elements in Considering Ruling Masculinities.” African and Asian Studies 7 (4): 515536.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ratele, Kopano. 2011. “Male Sexualities and Masculinities.” In African Sexualities: A Reader, ed. S. Tamale, 399419. Oxford: Pambazuka Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ricciardelli, Lina. A., and Robert. J. Williams. 1995. “Desirable and Undesirable Gender Traits in Three Behavioral Domains.” Sex Roles: A Journal of Research 33 (9–10): 637655. doi:10.1007/BF01547722.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Russell, Steve. 2019. “Men's Refashioning of Masculine Identities in Uganda and Their Self-Management of HIV Treatment.” Qualitative Health Research 29 (8): 11991212. doi:10.1177/1049732318823717.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shand, Wayne, Lorraine van Blerk, and Janine Hunter. 2015. “Economic Practices of African Street Youth: The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, and Zimbabwe.” In Labouring and Learning, ed. Tracy Skeloton, Tatek Abebe, and Johanna Waters, 121. Singapore: Springer.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stewart, Callum. 2020. “The future is queer kids: Queering the homonormative temporalities of same-sex marriage.” Politics 40 (3): 265-280. doi:10.1177/0263395719872595.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UN News. 2020. “DR Congo: Political Tensions, Armed Attacks, Displacement and COVID Threats Continue.” 7 December. https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/12/1079442.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund). 2020. “The Democratic Republic of the Congo: Adolescent and Youth Dashboard.” https://www.unfpa.org/data/adolescent-youth/CD (accessed 4 February 2021).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • van Blerk, Lorraine, Wayne Shand, Patrick Shanahan, and Janine Hunter. 2012–2016. “Growing up on the Streets: Research with and for Young People on the Streets, 2012–2016.” [Data collection]. Colchester, Essex: UK Data Service. 10.5255/UKDA-SN-854123.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • van Blerk, Lorraine. 2005. “Negotiating Spatial Identities: Mobile Perspectives on Street Life in Uganda.” Children's Geographies 3 (1): 521. doi:10.1080/14733280500037091.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • van Blerk, Lorraine. 2012. “Berg-en-See Street Boys: Merging Street and Family Relations in Cape Town, South Africa.” Children's Geographies 10 (3): 321336. doi:10.1080/14733285.2012.693381.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • van Blerk, Lorraine. 2017. “Entangled Identities Inside and Outside: Exploring Cape Town Street Youth's Interconnected Lives on the Street and in Prison.” In Carceral Spatiality: Dialogues between Geography and Criminology, ed. Dominique Moran and Anna K. Schliehe, 13-42. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Witt, Charlotte. 2011. “What is Gender Essentialism?” In Feminist Metaphysics, ed. Charlotte Witt, 11-25. Dordrecht: Springer.

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 396 396 23
Full Text Views 51 51 6
PDF Downloads 46 46 7