oa Scientia Militaria : South African Journal of Military Studies - Race and masculinities in the South African Military

Volume 38, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1022-8136
  • E-ISSN: 2224-0020



Generally, the military and masculinity are confirmed as harmonious and mutual. For many countries, military service assumes the status of initiation into manhood. In South Africa, for example, in the past, young white men were legally obliged to do military service. This emphasises the importance of focusing on white masculinities within the South African military in this article. Strong parallels with 10 African male soldiers who also underscored hegemonic masculinity are drawn. The construction of masculinity of young male soldiers is discussed historically and in the present context. Transcriptions of semi-structured interviews with soldiers drawn from a total of 14 participants were qualitatively analysed and are presented to illustrate the themes that emerged in the interviews. The findings suggest that the military encompasses masculine characteristics and defines soldiering as an embodiment of traditional male sex practices. This article concludes that military context and culture exaggerate and emphasise hegemonic masculinity and heterosexuality for male soldiers.

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