The impossibility of masculinity : sexual violence and black lesbianism in post-apartheid South Africa

Reid, Stephanie Elana (2018-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The construction of masculinity in post-apartheid South Africa is influenced by a number of historical, cultural and environmental factors. In a heteronormative patriarchal society, men have become obsessed with defining their masculine identity as something unrelated to homosexuality. Heterosexuality has therefore become ingrained in the identity of many men in South Africa. The fear of being labelled as homosexual has consequently led men to engage in harmful ritualized performances that are seen as contributing to the establishment of their manhood. Through this men are encouraged to publically display acts of violence – against women and other men – in order to demonstrate their adherence to the requirements of a successful masculinity. Furthermore, the attainment of a successful masculinity is dependent on the high levels of sexual violence against women in some communities in South Africa, and this highlights the impossibility of masculinity without violence. This study looks specifically at sexual violence against black lesbian women in order to show how current forms of successful masculinity in South Africa are unattainable. The primary research question demonstrates this, and it aims to show how the relationship between black lesbianism and heteronormative masculinity in South Africa contributes to the impossibility of achieving an idealized version of masculinity. The secondary research question will assist in understanding this by looking into how sexual violence against black lesbian women can be perceived as a way for men to attain and stabilize a heterosexual masculinity. This study draws on four theories of rape to account for the prevalence of sexual violence in South Africa. The pervasiveness of sexual violence in South Africa is also used in the study to demonstrate how the perpetration of rape is an ongoing process because of men’s attempts to prove their conformity to a masculine identity.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die konstruksie van manlikheid in post-apartheid Suid-Afrika word beïnvloed deur 'n aantal historiese, kulturele en omgewingsfaktore. In 'n heteronormatiewe patriargale samelewing poog mans obsessief om hul manlike identiteit te definieer as iets wat nie verband hou met homoseksualiteit nie. Heteroseksualiteit is dus vasgelê in die identiteit van baie mans in Suid-Afrika. Die vrees om as homoseksueel geїdentifiseer te word, het gevolglik daartoe gelei dat mans betrokke raak in skadelike geritualiseerde optredes wat gesien word om by te dra tot die vestiging van hul manlikheid. Hierdeur word mans aangemoedig om gewelddadig – teen vroue en ander mans – op te tree, ten einde te voldoen aan die vereistes van 'n suksesvolle manlikheid. Verder is die bereiking van 'n suksesvolle manlikheid afhanklik van die hoë vlakke van seksuele geweld teen vroue in sekere gemeenskappe in Suid-Afrika, en dit beklemtoon die onmoontlikheid van manlikheid sonder geweld. Hierdie studie kyk spesifiek na seksuele geweld teen swart lesbiese vroue om te wys hoe die huidige vorme van suksesvolle manlikheid in Suid-Afrika onbereikbaar is. Dit word getoon in die primêre navorsingsvraag wat daarop dui dat die verhouding tussen swart lesbianisme en heteronormatiewe manlikheid in Suid-Afrika bydra tot die onmoontlikheid om 'n geïdealiseerde weergawe van manlikheid te verkry. Die sekondêre navorsingsvraag sal help om hierdie begrip te verstaan deur na te gaan hoe seksuele geweld teen swart lesbiese vroue beskou kan word as 'n manier vir mans om 'n heteroseksuele manlikheid te bereik en te stabiliseer. Hierdie studie gebruik vier teorieë van verkragting om rekenskap te gee vir die voorkoms van seksuele geweld in Suid-Afrika. Die voorkoms van seksuele geweld in Suid-Afrika word gebruik om te demonstreer hoe verkragting 'n voortdurende proses is as gevolg van mans se pogings om hul manlike identiteit te bewys.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/105056
This item appears in the following collections: