The art of making young genders and sexualities in South Africa

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ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis is a visual arts-based exploration of young genders and sexualities in South Africa. The data presented here was generated by a uniquely designed participatory online visual arts course conducted with four young women aged 16-17 years who attend a co-educational high school in KwaZulu-Natal. This research set out to centre young people’s perspectives and experiences in understanding the making of young genders and sexualities, but also to provide a space where participants were able to explore, question and unpack these ideas that they hold. Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) was used to bring together the artworks that participants made with the broader systems of power within which they operate to understand the simultaneous forms of conformity, compliance, agency, and resistance that young people enact. The analysis showed how multiple versions of gender and sexuality are constructed, performed and experienced over various temporal and spatial contexts. The ways in which femininities and young women’s bodies become sexualised through the gaze of the heterosexual matrix was shown to be a product of the intersection of age with gender and sexuality. This study also showed what happens when participatory arts-based methods are used not to explore a particular social issue or identity, but rather the making of gender and sexuality more broadly – the four young women raised significantly under-researched topics such as divorce and asexuality. Furthermore, the analysis revealed the inescapability of race in research focusing on gender and sexuality. In post-apartheid South Africa these identities and systems of power are deeply and unmistakably intertwined. It is in reflecting on the insights that a participatory visual arts-based approach to engaging young people about gender and sexuality generates, that I argue for the value – analytically, methodologically, and pedagogically – that this study holds.
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Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2021.
Gender identity -- South Africa, Sex role -- South Africa, Education, Secondary -- Teenagers -- Women -- South Africa, Arts and Society -- South Africa, Art -- Teenagers -- Women -- Sexual behavior -- South Africa, Transgender people -- Art -- South Africa, Gays -- Art -- South Africa, Lesbians -- Art -- South Africa, UCTD