SAMRC documentary uncovers the relationship between gender or gender (in)equality and violence

Cape Town | The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) in collaboration with the University of South Africa’s (Unisa) Institute of Social and Health Sciences (ISHS) has released a documentary on the relationship between gender or gender inequality and violence.

The thought-provoking documentary, “An Ordinary Thing” was produced by Prof Kopano Ratele, a leading masculinity theorist from the SAMRC’s Masculinity and Health Research Unit and feminist scholar, Ms Rebecca Helman from ISHS, who partnered with investigative journalist and filmmaker, Leila Dougan. The twenty-four-minute doccie is as a component of a three-part project on Equal Families funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF).

The doccie delves into the daily lives of three ordinary South African families who express and enact gender equality in their homes. Based on in-depth interviews and intense observations of their daily routines, the documentary highlights how these not-so-ordinary families make sense of gender, gender relations, gender inequality and violence as they raise their children.

According to Ratele, considering the high rates of interpersonal violence in South Africa, it becomes vital that we uncover and understand the ways in which gender is constructed and enacted. “The home represents an important site in which children are exposed to notions of gender, therefore lending itself to the ideal space in which to explore how equality and inequality are thought of, conveyed in homes, reinforced or challenged”, he said.

Ratele, who is well-known for his work on African-oriented psychology, boys, men, masculinity, fatherhood, identity, culture, sexuality, and violence, adds that by discussing ways that children are raised and how they embody gender, it becomes possible to understand and mould the representations of gender to promote a safer and more equal society.

The documentary was a follow-up on a previous study in which the two researchers spoke to different types of families, including traditional, religious, non-patriarchal, and feminist families. Subsequently, on the basis that we understand more about the effects of inequality than how to engender equality, Helman and Ratele applied for funding to dig deeper into the lives of egalitarian and feminist families so as to identify and surface the ways in which families can raise their children to have increasingly anti-violent attitudes and democratic views on relationships, gender and sexuality.

An Ordinary Thing features discussions from leading experts in the field, as well as intimate conversations with parents. This documentary should be seen by every parent, caregiver, student, policymaker and scholar of parenting, gender (in)equality, families and relationships.


Full Documentary

Funding for the documentary was granted by the National Research Foundation.

Additional funding and in-kind support was offered by the University of South Africa’s (Unisa) Institute of Social and Health Sciences (ISHS) and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC’s) Masculinity and Health Research Unit (MaHRU).

Cognisant of the gender asymmetries in health, with a historical interest in the disproportionate involvement of men in injury and violence, MaHRU undertakes, hosts and supports evidence-based research on men, boys, masculinity and health. In addition to research, community-mobilising interventions, research-based advocacy, and public dissemination also forms a strong triangulated core of the work of MaHRU.

Documentary Enquiries:
Prof Kopano Ratele

Director: SAMRC Masculinity and Health Research Unit
Telephone: 021 938 0536

Media Enquiries:
Dumile Mlambo

Public Relation Manager
Tel: +27 21 938 0407

Release date: 
Tuesday, March 10, 2020 - 12:38