Marginality, subversion and the performativity of declining masculinity in selected Kenyan feature films by women filmmakers


  • Gloria Kemunto Mokaya Department of Linguistics and Languages, Machakos University, Kenya
  • Charles Kebaya Department of Linguistics and Languages, Machakos University, Kenya
  • Larry Ndivo Department of Linguistics and Languages, Machakos University, Kenya


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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Author Biography

Gloria Kemunto Mokaya, Department of Linguistics and Languages, Machakos University, Kenya

Gloria Kemunto Mokaya is a Master of Arts in Literature finalist at Machakos University. She has co-authored peer-reviewed articles such as “Integrating riddles as instructional resource in the Competency-Based Curriculum for Early Years Education in Kenya” (2022) and “Queer Sexualities and the Reconstruction of Alternative Modes of Being in the Kenyan Society in the Film Rafiki” (2022). She is also the co-author of a book; A Premier Guide to The Samaritan by John Lara and Fathers of Nations by Paul B. Vitta (Royallitte Publishers). Currently, Gloria is researching on “Representations of Hegemonic Masculinity in Feature Films by Kenyan Women Filmmakers”. Her research interests are in Literature and Film.


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How to Cite

Mokaya, G. K., Kebaya, C., & Ndivo, L. (2023). Marginality, subversion and the performativity of declining masculinity in selected Kenyan feature films by women filmmakers. Hybrid Journal of Literary and Cultural Studies, 5(1), 1-13.