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Villanova University

Publication Date

Fall 2018

Program Name

South Africa: Multiculturalism and Human Rights

Abstract

Movements towards racial and gender equality in South Africa are experiencing growth because of the increasingly urgent need to rectify the inequalities of apartheid. These movements have destabilized notions of white hegemonic masculinity by creating a dissonance between the socially-constructed privileges that white men are entitled to and their perceived limited access to advancement. The primary responses to this “crisis” have materialized in the construction of male organizations aimed at either redeveloping masculinity or defending male privilege, as well as a desire to distance oneself from the stereotypical male identity. All reactions bear significant weight on the future of South Africa; the privileges that white men hold give them the power to advance or hamper movements towards equality.

My research examines the construction and development of masculinity and its relationship to these movements, as experienced by seven heterosexual white men at the University of Cape Town. I recruited participants via Tinder and collected data via semi-structured interviews. I provided my participants with an optional body map to assist their conceptualizations of both whiteness and masculinity.

All of my participants used personal narratives to distance themselves from the dominant discourse of hegemonic masculinity. Despite their recognition of privilege, my participants echoed the discourse of white male victimization, concentrating on institutionalized reverse discrimination and an exclusion from social justice movements. This exclusion demonstrates the discomfort that my participants have with their privileged positionality. Therefore, I conclude that the role of heterosexual white men lies in redefining white hegemonic masculinity.

Disciplines

African Languages and Societies | African Studies | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology

 

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