Unnamed men and available women: connecting the popular, the personal and the political in racialised hyperheterosexual representations of women in South African magazines

OUTPUT TYPE: Conference or seminar papers
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2008
TITLE AUTHOR(S): N.Sanger
KEYWORDS: GENDER EQUALITY, MAGAZINES, MEDIA SECTOR, WOMEN
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Intranet: HSRC Library: shelf number 5154

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Abstract

The aim of this presentation is to reflect on the linkages between the popular, the personal and the political. I do this through interrogating the ways that compulsory heteropatriarchy establishes women's representation as hyperheterosexual for an unnamed and unmarked, but clearly, masculine audience in a select group of mainstream magazines. Using a feminist methodology foregrounding the intersectionalities between gender, race and sexuality, I argue that hyperheterofeminine performances are racialised with few exceptions, white femininities are presented as normative, and black femininities as 'other' and exotic. If heteronormativity and white normalcy determines women's representation in the media, a space which relies on repetition in order to establish normativity in the popular imagination, then the struggle for women's bodily integrity, freedom and equality, needs to be more aggressively pursued in the current South African climate.