New women, old messages?: constructions of femininities, race and hypersexualised bodies in selected South African magazines, 2003-2006

SOURCE: Social Dynamics
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2009
TITLE AUTHOR(S): N.Sanger
KEYWORDS: MAGAZINES, RACIAL SEGREGATION, SEXUAL BEHAVIOUR, WOMEN
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 5684

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Abstract

This article discusses the ways in which racialised femininities are differently presented as hyper(hetero)sexual in three South African magazines targeting female readers - Femina, Fair Lady and True Love - between 2003 and 2006. I argue that the bodily work women are expected to perform is determined by constructs of race, where women are advised to regulate and control their physical bodies as a means of maintaining (hetero)sexual desirability or becoming (hetero)sexually desirable. I discuss how the racist portrayal of black womanhood in magazine advertisements that target white female readers of Femina and Fair Lady are sexualised in ways that define the black female body as alluring and exotic. My discussion reveals that the privileging of white heterofemininity in all three magazines as normative and ideal, simultaneously defines black women as the embodiment of a racialised (hetero)sexuality at times mediated by essentialist ideas of Africa which echoes racist colonial discourse and defines black women as essentially different.