‘Birthplace of the Sun’ subtly explores the social impact of increasingly powerful women and the constant updating of gender roles. Gone is the need for chest beating alfa males, except in certain scenarios such as protecting loved ones from marauding spiders and hijackers. There can be no doubt that the traditional role of men has been challenged, as they are no longer the sole breadwinner and thus undisputed ruler of the family group.
Globally, men face the challenge of their updated role in society without any real reference, as their roles are so radically different from those of previous generations and the majority of their role models. South African men are only now truly beginning this journey, and at a much accelerated pace.
Thanks to B-BBEE, South African women are now being offered jobs that their men are not and this is dramatically hastening their role evolution. Imagine the shock to the psyche of a man whose general society is still mostly incredibly patriarchal in nature but who now has to deal with a woman demanding equal consideration. Whilst legislation has ensured women are empowered, it has neither fully considered the impact this has on their personal relationships and their role in a still mostly traditional society; nor has it offered methods of resolving conflicts that will result from it, and, it has also not encouraged the difficult conversations around resolving it either.
This, if not specifically addressed by each individual couple, may lead to undesirable scenarios, such as:
- Domestic conflict and violence, as men try to regain control of what was lost;
- Discontent and divorce, as partners give up trying to find solutions;
- Feelings of no longer being valued leading to inferiority concerns;
- Increased substance abuse and eating disorders to seek comfort elsewhere; and,
- Even the search for various fantasy, pseudo or actual escapes as individuals go into denial.
All have become very real problems, and though, I’m not suggesting that this issue is the sole cause…it should, at least, be considered a large contributing factor.
Both sexes need to come together to find optimal ways of working and living together, which respects both their uniquely individual needs. There is a huge need to have support and discussion mechanisms in place where couples can explore the issues in a safe space.
‘Birthplace of the Sun’ was always going to be more than a romantic adventure, which sought to raise awareness of its central location ‘Inzalo Y’langa’. It was also to become a platform from which to raise important social issues…To sound the warning bell that modern relationships are doomed, unless both parties are prepared to have the difficult conversations.
Of particular importance is the new role of women in society and its impact on all role players, unless addressed in a sensible manner. It is hoped that this work will encourage debate and discussion, both within society and between individual couples, to find a newly workable and comfortable solution to better address the issue.