The Perpetuation of Gender Norms and White Hegemonic Patriarchy in the South African Defence Force as Represented in André van der Merwe’s Moffie (2006)
Keywords:Moffie, military, masculinity, homosexuality, South African novel, whiteness
With the institution of compulsory military service in South Africa in 1948 the National Party government effected a tool well shaped for the construction of hegemonic masculinities. Through this, and other structures like schools and families, white children were shaped into submissive abiding citizens. Due to the brutal nature of a militarised society, gender roles become strictly defined and perpetuated. As such, white men’s time served on the border also “toughened” them up and shaped them into hegemonic copies of each other, ready to enforce patriarchal and racist ideologies. In this article, I look at how the novel Moffie by André Carl van der Merwe (2006) illustrates hegemonic white masculinity in South Africa and how it has long been strictly regulated to perpetuate the well-being of the white family as representative of the capitalist state. I discuss the novel by looking at the ways in which the narrator is marked by service in the military, which functions as a socialising agent, but as importantly by the looming threat of the application of the term “moffie” to himself, by self or others.
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