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Friday, 30 January 2009

How to be a proper man: get religion

According to some mainly African God botherers meeting in Guyana at the moment, religious beliefs have a profound effect on how ideas of sexuality and masculinity are shaped.

You bet your sweet arse they do. After all, much of the time and energy expended by so many of the frothing variety of religious folk – and there are a helluva lot of those in African countries – is spent telling people what they should do with the bits of their anatomy that most people don’t see.

A story from Ekklesia – a Christian think tank very much not at the frothy end of religion, so much so that it has a place in our sidebar links – tells it like this:

Religious beliefs have a profound influence in shaping the consciousness of men and their concepts of masculinity and sexuality, members of an expert inter-faith panel told participants at an event in Georgetown, Guyana, focused on seeking ways of promoting positive masculinity.

Religious institutions prescribe boundaries, impose sanctions and affirm identity, the panellists said.

Thirty-five pastors, church leaders, theological students and lay persons from Guyana, Jamaica, Barbados, South Africa, Malawi and India gathered in the Guyanese capital [. . .] for the event sponsored by the Women’s World Day of Prayer and Bread for All, Switzerland.

I’m not quite sure what “positive masculinity” is, or what is wrong with allowing the feminine side of men to play its role, just as the masculine side of women plays its role when it is needed. It’s about balance.

But ideas of “manhood” are big with some people, including those from many of the African countries, whose rabid, fundamentalist bishops indulge in so much wailing and gnashing of teeth over people’s sexuality.

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