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“I’m here for abusing my wife”: South African men constructing intersectional subjectivities through narratives of their violence

Floretta A. Boonzaier
Taryn J. van Niekerk


The paper aims to explore the subjectivities men construct in their talk about their own violence toward women partners and the meaning these understandings of their violence have for the intervention programmes they attend. We take an intersectional reading of marginalised men’s narratives of their perpetration of violence against intimate women partners. Drawing on interviews with 26 participants who had been mandated into criminal justice intervention programmes in Cape Town, we attend to how their race, class, gender and location intersect to shape their understanding of their violence. We also analyse the implications that this wide-angle reading of men and their violence has for intervention programmes that mostly have been imported from Euro-American contexts. The paper offers a critique of current intervention practices with domestically violent men that focuses too heavily on gendered power alone. Furthermore, it suggests that an intersectional reading of the multiple realities of men’s lives is important for interventions that aim to end their violence against women, particularly for marginalised men who have little stake in the ‘patriarchal ’dividend’.

Keywords: batterer interventions, intersectionality, intimate partner violence, narrative, domestic violence