Towards a ‘Proverbs 31 Man?’ Pentecostalism and the Reconstruction of Masculinities in Kenya
The ‘Proverbs 31 woman’ has been the focus of considerable scholarly reflection. Whereas some celebrate the ‘Proverbs 31 woman’ as the embodiment of femininity, others challenge this interpretation as it infers an underlying patriarchy and a socialisation of women to sacrifice themselves. In either case, the dominant focus has been on the woman. However, there has been a notable development in the study of religion and masculinities in Africa in general, and in Pentecostalism in particular. There is a growing appreciation of how Pentecostalism seeks to transform masculinities in Africa and to promote the emergence of “a new man for a new era.”3 This article explores how Pentecostalism in Kenya seeks to reconfigure masculinities, going on to describe how selected preachers are challenging boys and men to adopt more life-giving masculinities. Utilising the concept of the ‘Proverbs 31 man’,4 the article describes how Pentecostal preachers envisage transformed boys and men in the Kenyan contexts. The article contends that despite some challenges, Pentecostalism does offer some promise of redemptive or transformative masculinities in Africa.
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