Marginality, subversion and the performativity of declining masculinity in selected Kenyan feature films by women filmmakers
Keywords:Masculinity, Declining Masculinity, Performance, Marginality, Subversion, Feature film
Borne out of the need to understand the performance of masculinity in film, this article explores practices and notions of masculinity in the Kenyan society as represented in feature films. It seeks to understand both men’s and women’s perceptions of masculinity and how, in defining, enacting and performing them, they evoke social expectations, personal agency, and cultural subversions. Specifically, the article shows how feature films represent marginality and reconfigure declining trends of masculinity in society today. Thus, the article probes two questions; where are real men? and how is masculinity performed in contexts where the ‘conventional’ artefacts of masculinity are not readily available to men? Raewyn Connell’s theorization of hegemonic masculinity guided analyses and interpretations of findings in this article. Using two feature films by women filmmakers, Dangerous Affair (2002) and Soul Boy (2010), the paper shows how men are fashioning and working out masculine identities and selves away from the reveled mythic figurations of masculinity which, largely due to shifting contexts, appear elusive to them. It also reveals that marginalized men’s experiences with masculinity are unique, because context undermines the everyday ways they express themselves as dominant females emerge.
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