Contesting the meaning/s of sexual violence in the South African postcolony
Where are the male victims?
in Intimacy and injury
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What is clear from the #MeToo moment is that the more visible sexual violation becomes, the more contested will be its meanings and implications. Now more than ever, the emotional energy (moral outrage, fear, anger) emitted by accounts of sexual attack gets appropriated for purposes far removed from the primary victims. There is more policing of what rape victims say than the rapes themselves. A dominant response to the greater visibility of victims of sexual attack worldwide is to marginalise victims’ perspectives and appropriate the issue for anti-feminist aims such as imperialist, anti-immigration, racist and xenophobic politics. This chapter focuses on the South African context where the heightened politicisation of sexual violence is most often tied to anxieties around black rule and the sovereignty of the new (nation-)state, instead of being drawn upon to further a feminist agenda of greater gender justice post-apartheid. Thus, typically, the ‘emotional capital’ or energy released by the suffering of rape victims is lifted away from them and their needs and deployed in the service of either racist or anti-racist masculinist-nationalist agendas. The chapter argues that what is needed in this context is to relentlessly centre the actual victim perspectives, of which the great majority are poorer women and children. Furthermore, it will claim that in contemporary South Africa, it is particularly pertinent for the pursuit of gender justice to include in this kind of feminist activism the voices of male prisoner victims of sexual violence.

Intimacy and injury

In the wake of #MeToo in India and South Africa

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