Problematic men, problematic pasts: Reflecting critically on themes in South African literature on rape

Stream: Representing Violence
Date: Wednesday, 11 February 2015
Time: 1.00 pm – 2.45 pm


With rates of rape in South Africa among the highest in the world, the issue of rape and the way it has been shaped by context has surfaced recurringly in South African scholarship. Most commonly, it is understood as a symptom of deep and pervasive gender inequality, and in recent years linked repeatedly to contemporary and historical social problems in the country, including the social and economic legacies of apartheid. In addition, the role of South African masculinities has received significant attention within the scholarship, also linked to social and economic histories. This paper aims to step back and consider how scholarly discussions on rape in South Africa are evolving. Applying a critical sociological lens of inquiry into the ways in which the problem of rape is constructed, this paper aims to review key themes and patterns in the literature, and reflect critically on what the implications of these might be. By highlighting some of the assumptions inherent in much of the literature on rape in South Africa, and examining their origins and effects, this paper explores how scholarship in relation to rape can reflexively move forward.


Denise Buiten (Presenter), University of Notre Dame Australia
Dr Buiten coordinates the Social Justice Programme at the University of Notre Dame Australia in Sydney, and lectures in social justice and sociology. She holds a PhD in Sociology, specialising in gender and the media from the University of Pretoria and has taught in sociology, gender studies and social justice at Universities in South Africa, Australia and Ireland, including a Post-doctoral Fellowship in Global Justice and Gender Equality at University College Dublin in 2010.Her current research interests pertain to gender based violence, evolving understandings of social issues, and gender representations in the media.