Labelling black male genitalia and the ‘new racism’

the discursive construction of sexual racism by a group of Southern African college students


  • Busi Makoni Pennsylvania State University



black genitalia, metaphor, zoomorphy, weaponry, animalism, sexual racism


This article explores the discursive construction of sexual racism through names assigned to the black penis by black male college students in Southern Africa. This analysis reveals use of three frequently occurring metaphors: zoomorphs, weapons and heroic historical figures. Collectively, these frequently occurring metaphors associate Southern African black men with notions of (i) wild, animalistic sexuality, (ii) dangerous, violent behaviour, and (iii) large sexual organs, which were prevalent racist ideologies of black male bodies during the colonial period. In addition, perceptions of sociocultural power dynamics attributed to patriarchy are foregrounded through metaphors related to royalty, indicating that names assigned to male genitalia align not only with the colonial construction of sexual racism but also with patriarchal gender relations. The article concludes by suggesting that names assigned to the black penis embody inherent contradictions that are not only characteristic of Southern African masculinities but also significantly complicate the dichotomy between ‘self’ and ‘other’, or ‘us’ and ‘them’, in contemporary Southern Africa.

Author Biography

Busi Makoni, Pennsylvania State University

Busi Makoni holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. She is currently working as a lecturer in the Department of Applied Linguistics and the Program in African Studies. Her research interests are in second language acquisition, language and gender, language and security of the state, feminist critical discourse analysis, language rights and language policy and planning. Some of her research has been published in the Journal of Second Language Research, Per Linguam, Current Issues in language Planning, Journal of Language, Identity and Education and the International Journal of Applied Linguistics.


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How to Cite

Makoni, B. (2016). Labelling black male genitalia and the ‘new racism’: the discursive construction of sexual racism by a group of Southern African college students. Gender and Language, 10(1), 48–72.