In the last two years, Social media in Kenya has been abuzz with claims of men going for the ‘Men’s Conference’ during the Valentine Season. Humorous posts, sarcasm, mimes, and photos were used on Twitter and other social media to specifically declare the intention of men to attend the conference on 14th February justifying their absence in participating in the rituals of Valentine’s day when lovers are expected to share lavish gifts ad share romantic gestures. This year, there was an actual ‘Men’s Conference’ held on Valentine’s Day at a prestigious hotel and was aired on of the mainstream local television station: Citizen TV!
This study contributes to creating a counter-narrative to the gains made by civil society, feminists, the gay and lesbian movements in their efforts to protest against social privileges assigned to men in patriarchal systems. The unit of analysis for this study will be Tweets posted the tweeter handles: @mensconference2019 and @mensconference2020 and hashtags: #mensconference2019 and #mensdconference2020 posted in late January to end of February in the last two years.
These tweets will be interrogated to examine sadomasochistic narratives by Twitterati that articulate the marginalized positionality of the ‘boy child’, who claim to have lost social privileges assigned to them through patriarchy and have been reassigned to the empowered ‘girl-child’ through affirmative programs in Kenya. Through content analysis, the study will explore how the use of humour, sarcasm, mimes, and photos posted on Twitter contributes in advancing the impression that men, who should embrace heroic heterosexual masculinity, have embraced ‘victimhood’ and suffer as abject men signified by the pressures to participate in the trending commercialization of the Valentine Day festivities.
A further investigation will seek to explore expressions of sadomasochism in the tweets to interrogate the use of self-injuring ad self –defacing communication that contributes to advancing the grotesque ‘realism’ that Kenyan men are disadvantaged by the empowerment of women. Further to, the study will seek to establish patterns of communication in the tweets that imply ‘the low other’ position adopted by men expressed in online conversations that not only challenge the heteronormative outlook from patriarchy that portrays masculinity as heroic but also, project the used of victimhood as evidence of the disempowerment of the ’boy child’ in Kenya.