The Scandal of Manhood: ‘Baby Rape’ and the Politicization of Sexual Violence in Post‐apartheid South Africa

Citation:

Posel, Deborah. 2005. “The Scandal of Manhood: ‘Baby Rape’ and the Politicization of Sexual Violence in Post‐apartheid South Africa.” Culture, Health & Sexuality 7 (3): 239–52. doi: 10.1080/13691050412331293467.

Author: Deborah Posel

Abstract:

This paper traces the genealogy of sexual violence as a public and political issue in South Africa, from its initial marginalization and minimization during the apartheid era, through to the explosion of anguish and anger which marked the post-apartheid moment, and most dramatically the years 2001 and 2002. Of particular interest is the question of how and why the problem of sexual violence came to be seen as a scandal of manhood, putting male sexuality under critical public scrutiny. The paper argues that the sudden, intense eruption of public anxiety and argument about sexual violence which marked the post-apartheid period had relatively little to do with feminist analysis and politics (influential though this has been in some other respects). Rather, the key to understanding this politicization of sexual violence lies with its resonances with wider political and ideological anxieties about the manner of the national subject and the moral community of the country's fledgling democracy.

Topics: Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gender-Based Violence, Gendered Power Relations, Masculinism, Sexual Violence, Male Perpetrators, Rape, SV against women, Sexuality Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: South Africa

Year: 2005

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