THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector


Back to Index

Change starts in the home - Exploring feminism with Kelvin Hazangwi
Upenyu Makoni-Muchemwa,
January 20, 2012

Read Inside/Out with Kelvin Hazangwi

View audio file details

Kelvin HazangwiKelvin Hazangwi is the National Director of PADARE. He is also a Member of the National Anti - Domestic Violence Council and Chairperson of the Board of Trustees for SAYWHAT, part time Lecturer of Gender Relations at Women's University in Africa and past Chevening Scholar - in Gender and Development, IDS, UK.

Why do you think the term feminism is so contentious?
Its like democracy, it can be everybody's mistress. There is no single interpretation. What is needed is to make it simple so there is a common understanding. It's contentious especially to men because they think of feminists as people who burn their bras and hate men. And it's not like that. In simple terms feminists want men to be good human beings, who love, and who can communicate effectively without resorting to violence. When we, as men, look through feminist lenses we become better human beings.

Is it possible for a man to be a feminist?
There is a debate raging about that. My personal opinion is that in as much as I can do my work, in as much as I can speak about the experiences of women, I can never really understand them. There are certain things I cannot experience like child bearing. I think the best men can be is to be pro-feminist, that is to be in support of feminist ideas. But for me to try to be a spokesperson for women when it comes to reproductive health that would be taking it too far. I can only understand women through the personal narratives of the women who surround me. Listen

What would you say are the concepts of masculinity that make rape acceptable?
I think it derives from what men do to explore alternative forms of masculinity other than the one that is domineering, all powerful and all capable at all times. There are other alternative forms of expressing masculinity. I follow Caps United, and their goalie Zikipa wept when a goal was scored a few minutes before the end of the game. He made headlines. He was crying! Would he cry if he lost his daughter? Crying is just an expression of being a human being it doesn't make you any less of a man. Those alternative forms of masculinity that are caring, able to communicate and not domineering are never explored or presented as alternatives. As young boys grow up they are socialised in violent forms of masculinity. This also translates to our institutions.

Why do you think the female rapists captivated the public mind much more than the daily rape cases against women and children?
That's what a society that is male dominated does to us. We don't introspect when a woman is raped because it's the norm. Women are raped every day. But for some reason men, and even women, wanted to see these female rapists ... are they really women you know? And also rape has been a tool for men for a very long time and apparently these women have now taken this tool from them. This is what patriarchy does to us. As a society and as men we need to reflect on that. Male editors need to reflect on that. They will run that as a lead story, yet there are greater numbers of girls who are raped every month, never making headline news. What we need to challenge is rape. Whether it happens to women or men, it's wrong.
If I'm an oppressor, I rarely put myself in the shoes of the oppressed. Men rarely think of what life might be like for a woman who is raped. But we are quick to think of what life is like for a man who is raped. Listen

Why do you think women perpetuate patriarchy?
Enlightenment is not only for men, but also for women. I think that is the message that is also coming from feminists, the different strands, be it the radicals liberals or the social feminists. The point is that the same engagement that is used to generate awareness among men should also be given to women. They also have the power to be agents of social change. It starts in the home. I never really understood it, but as a young boy my mother would say 'Baba' to me. I was just a young boy. Women might not realise how patriarchal they are or how deeply engrained these values are. These are not women who are just mothers, they are also sisters and aunts, and they defend patriarchy in other settings. Women do virginity testing. They acquire status in society because they determine whether your daughter is a virgin or not and that gives them power. So it's all these things that we need to reflect on in order to build a society that has more equitable relations. Listen

Visit the fact sheet

Audio File

  • Men can be pro-feminist
    Language: English
    Duration: 1min
    Date: January 20, 2012
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 942KB

  • Perspectives on rape
    Language: English
    Duration: 1min 15sec
    Date: January 20, 2012
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 1.15MB

  • Women and patriarchy
    Language: English
    Duration: 1min 30sec
    Date: January 20, 2012
    File Type: MP3
    Size: 1.37MB

Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.