The masculine state in crisis: state response to war resistance in apartheid South Africa

Conway, Daniel (2008). The masculine state in crisis: state response to war resistance in apartheid South Africa. Men and Masculinities, 10(4) pp. 422–439.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1097184X07306742

URL: http://jmm.sagepub.com/content/10/4/422.abstract?r...

Abstract

External and internal forces threatened the apartheid state in the 1980s. The refusal to perform compulsory military service by individual white men and the increasing number of white South Africans who criticized the role of the military and apartheid governance had the potential to destabilize the gendered binaries on which white social order and Nationalist rule rested. The state constituted itself as a heterosexual, masculine entity in crisis and deployed a number of gendered discourses in an effort to isolate and negate objectors to military service. The state articulated a nationalist discourse that defined the white community in virile, masculine, and heroic terms. Conversely, “feminine” weakness, cowardice, and compromise were scorned. Objectors, as “strangers” in the public realm, were most vulnerable to homophobic stigmatization from the state and its supporters.

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