"Indoda" in the dawn of the HIV/AIDS epidemic: a study of masculine ideals, behaviors and practices among black heterosexual men living with HIV

Mthombeni, Nomaswazi Mandisa
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Following a qualitative approach and using diaries and the anthropological tool of ethnography, the study engaged black heterosexual men living with HIV to explore and describe their masculine ideals, values and behaviors in the dawn of the HIV epidemic. The findings revealed that the fabric that made “Indoda” varied and changed over time but to be Indoda , a man had to have one’s own family and consequently be the head of the family “Intloko yo Muzi”.Indoda was also detailed as someone who was “iQhawe”,a warrior who fought many battles of invulnerability and endured hardships. The findings suggested that although participants strove to attain these specifications, they were also restricted and burdened by them; especially those who were under varying degrees of pressure as a result of the different social, economic and political transitions that were taking place. HIV was seen as a threat to the constructions of hegemonic masculine ideals and thus exposed a budding crisis of masculinity that men in this context were confronted with. While HIV seemed to alter ones identity for some of the participants, other participants revealed that HIV did not change their lives in anyway. Among these participants, multiple relationships with ‘roll ons’; secrets and low condom use were rife. The other group of men who differentiated themselves from those who were HIV negative challenged the dominant notions of masculinities and reconstructed their masculinities in more positive ways. In this way, these men inhabited a subjective position of agency by taking control of their lives and accepting and driving their Z3. The study concluded that masculine norms behaviors and values are fluid and it is through continuously engaging in critical examination of the discourses that construct masculinity that new constructions of what it means to be a man can emerge.
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in fulfillment of the requirements for Masters degree in Sociology March 2016