Re-Reading Masculinities and Gender-Based Violence in South Africa

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Kezia BATISAI, University of Johannesburg, South Africa
The sight and thought of women whose throats have been slit open; who are burnt to/after death; sexually and brutally abused in the name of corrective rape; and violently battered for challenging patriarchal loved ones and strangers push intellectual activists and feminists to the limit. It is against this backdrop that this article reads masculinities and gender-based violence in the context of socio-economic and political volatility in South Africa. The article juxtaposes constructions and realities of masculinities with past and recent ruthless attacks and brutal murders of women in South Africa within and beyond their private spaces. The juxtaposition allows the article to unravel the reasoning behind these violent and brutal actions that have characterised the post-apartheid nation. Furthermore, it paves way for interrogating whether the attacks and murders hint at manhood at threat and the subsequent urge to re-assert one’s masculinity; a lack of a moral campus or social fibre; a mere reflection of a ‘violent nation’; or a deeper revelation of a failing state and its legal system. It is within this zone of theorisation that the article pays particular attention to the subjective meanings South African men – across racial class and age categories – assign to the violent contours that women constantly navigate in this country. Being a feminist who works with ‘talk’ as a way of generating knowledge and solutions to complex realities, I draw meanings from the narratives gathered during a six-month long fieldwork journey in different pockets of Johannesburg South Africa. Overall, the article strives to arrive at a meaningful synthesis of the impact shifting socioeconomic and political landscapes have on the everyday, and how ‘talk’ and the subsequent language emerge as powerful tools for tackling violence against women in South Africa irrespective of race, class, sexuality and age among other subjective positionalities.