Constructing hegemonic masculinities in South Africa
The discourse and rhetoric of heteronormativity
Keywords:discourse, hegemonic masculinities, heteronormativity, rhetoric, South Africa
This paper considers how local and regional representations of hegemonic masculinity are (re)produced, and how men’s gender identities are constituted through situated interaction in South Africa. It points toward the important role played by the discourse and rhetoric of heteronormativity among these men in hegemonic sense-making, and in particular, the underlying discursive practices of performative/intimate (hetero)sexuality and homosexual rejection/acceptance. An attempt is made to account for complexity and diversity in this sense-making across intersecting social categories such as ethnicity and social class. Focus group discussion among Afrikaans, English and Xhosa men was transcribed and backtranslated where necessary. A technique of discourse analysis that considers the rhetorical aspects of text is developed through the introduction of norm-referencing rhetorical devices. Findings highlight the extent to which practices of both compliance and resistance contribute toward the (re)production of masculinities.
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