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“I’ll show you how a real woman should act”: One woman’s experience of homophobic violence and intimidation in post-apartheid South Africa

Sarah Frances Gordon


South Africa experiences alarming levels of intimate partner violence and femicide, as well as increasing reports of homophobic violence against women. This article focuses on a qualitative study, which explored how women’s lives and identities are transformed by living in this culture of violence against women. Open-ended interviews were conducted with 27 undergraduate women students, who attended a South African University. The article draws on the interviews of one of these women, a Black African lesbian woman, Phelisa. Discourse analysis was used to analyse her interview texts. Phelisa’s story is presented as a single-case study example of homophobic violence and intimidation in a South African township. The case study highlights the various discourses associated with this violence, specifically the ‘homosexuality is un-African discourse’ and the ‘discourse of feminine transgression’.

Keywords: case study, gender; homophobic violence, violence against women, South Africa, Black African women, homosexuality