An ecstatic Ms Thandi Xesibe graduated with her Master’s degree in Education following her research on how primary school boys construct their masculinities in and around school and the role that the school community plays in the construction of young boys’ masculinities.
‘I chose this topic because of my first-hand experience dealing with violence taking place in and around primary and secondary schools in KwaZulu-Natal,’ said Xesibe.
The findings of her study reveal that school is a space where violent masculinities are enacted.
She found that boys construct their violent masculinities through heterosexuality, bullying and sexual violence, and validated their actions using corporal punishment at school.
‘By engaging in violent acts boys maintain power, dominance and hegemony over the rest of the learners in the school. These elements perpetuate gender inequalities between boys and girls and other boys, while creating and reinforcing a hierarchy of masculinities among boys, where violent boys are dominant, subordinating other boys and marginalising girls and female teachers,’ explained Xesibe.
She highlighted that gender violence has had negative effects at school. Xesibe recommends that any intervention at primary schools must be situated within a gendered lens to understand the power dynamics in relation to masculinity and violence.
Xesibe, a widowed mother, thanked her family and friends, adding that studying whilst working full-time was not easy.