Narratives of masculinity in the Daily Sun: implications for HIV risk and prevention

Abstract

Dominant and hegemonic masculinities typically place women and men at risk of contracting HIV through reinforcing gender inequalities. Challenging these masculinities is increasingly seen as a precondition for tackling HIV/AIDS. Narratives of masculinity are the symbolic tools, which men draw upon to construct their social identities. Understanding the composition of these narratives of masculinity is central for understanding how narratives of masculinity may, or may not, shape HIV-related health behaviours. The media is a central space in which narratives of masculinity are produced and reproduced. We analyse five days’ worth of the newspaper, the Daily Sun, in December 2008 to identify the different narratives of masculinity that circulate in the newspaper. Through thematic analysis we identify three different global-narratives: (i) Masculinity and work, (ii) Masculinity, violence and crime, and (iii) Masculinity and HIV. We explore each of these narratives and suggest how they may create contexts in which certain HIV-related health behaviours are more or less likely. We suggest that despite the variation in the narratives of masculinity circulating in the Daily Sun these narratives are limited and typically undermine HIV-related health behaviours by either sustaining a masculine ideal that is unachievable, emphasising a narrative of a disempowered masculinity, or by providing limited masculine narratives around HIV/AIDS. We emphasise how this undermines HIV prevention and suggest possible approaches to challenging these narratives.

Citation

Gibbs, A.; Jobson, G. Narratives of masculinity in the Daily Sun: implications for HIV risk and prevention. South African Journal of Psychology (2011) 41 (2) 173-186.

Narratives of masculinity in the Daily Sun: implications for HIV risk and prevention

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