Isaac Dery is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of South Africa (UNISA) and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC). He obtained his PhD in 2018 from the University of Cape Town (UCT). His research interests focus on constructions of masculinities, social subjectivities, and gender-based violence, and the intersections between these areas within Ghanaian society. Isaac has been a Social Science Research Council (SSRC) Next Generation Social Science in Africa (Next Gen) 2016 Dissertation Research Fellow. He was recently selected as a Young African Scholar of the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. His research has been published in journals such as Social Science and Medicine, Reproductive Health, Journal of Asian and African Studies, and Gender Issues.
Masculinity studies have gained much purchase globally in recent decades especially the sense in which it has produced discursive space for interdisciplinary investigations. In the light of this, there is increasing consensus among commentators that different masculinities co-exist within a particular social space. There is also a growing recognition and awareness of the merits in examining the conceptual underpinnings of masculinity and how it generates certain behaviours amongst men which contribute to perpetrate violence. The emerging call to imagine more egalitarian and complex masculinities among men has been at the centre of various discussions on the fight against violence that some theorists argue emanates from men's drive to live up to impossible ideals of "masculinity". This paper attempts to chart a shift from what could be described as negatively coated rhetoric that typifies masculinity discourses. Instead the argument explains the complexities of masculinities and how men's embodiment and performance of masculinity can be transformed to accommodate 'non-violent' behaviours in society. This paper introduces valuable insights into the complexity of masculinity politics and violence in contemporary Ghana. Based on research that I conducted on domestic violence in northern Ghana, I argue that local context plays an influential role in shaping the general contours of men's performance of masculinities and the meaning of "violence" as contextually and dynamically constructed. In order to contain violence, I suggest there is need to create and welcome masculinities that are different from the normative and essentialist ideals.