'There's got to be a man in there': reading intersections between gender, race and sexuality in South African magazines

SOURCE: African Identities
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2008
TITLE AUTHOR(S): N.Sanger
KEYWORDS: GENDER EQUALITY, HOMOSEXUALITY, IDENTITY, MAGAZINES, MEDIA SECTOR, RACIAL SEGREGATION, SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 5436

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Abstract

The aim of this article is to interrogate the ways that compulsory heteropatriarchy establishes women's representation as hyper(hetero)sexual in a select group of South African mainstream magazines. In men's magazines targeting both black and white male readers, women are depicted as objects for an unnamed and unmarked, but clearly, masculine audience. In contrast, women's magazines with a dominant white female readership, sexualize black femininities for the consumption of white female readers in ways reminiscent of white male colonial obsession with black bodies. Using a feminist methodology foregrounding the intersectionalities between gender, race and sexuality, I argue that hyper(hetero)feminine performances are racialized with few exceptions:, white femininities are depicted as normative, and black femininities as different and exotic. If heteronormativity and white normalcy determines women's representation in the popular 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 post-colonial South African climate.