“It’s easy to just be normal”: Performative masculinities in Die stropers
Keywords:performativity, hegemonic masculinity, Die Stropers, Afrikaner nationalism, Afrikaans-language film, queer cinema
In post-apartheid South Africa, the representation of queer identities in Afrikaans-language films have become increasingly prominent. However, many such films focus on past contexts or serve as comedic depictions, failing to confront the complex issues faced by individuals in contemporary Afrikaner communities. Etienne Kallos’s 2018 coming-of-age film Die stropers (The Harvesters) candidly depicts the challenges faced by adoptive brothers Janno and Pieter, who must negotiate desire and gender in a conservative, Afrikaans farming community. Drawing on Judith Butler’s notion of gender performativity and recent reformulations of Raewyn Connell’s notion of hegemonic masculinity, we examine the discursive (re)production of hegemonic Afrikaner masculinity within the boys’ adoptive family and community. We investigate how the protagonists strategically deploy performative masculinities to achieve belonging and acceptance as heirs, even if the ideals they emulate oppress and restrict them. We propose that the protagonists’ strategic deployment of performative masculinities represents their claiming of agency in contexts where gender and desire are aggressively policed. Furthermore, their navigation of hegemony in this white, Afrikaner community through resistance and consent might point to a claiming of space for queer identities and the continued transmutation of hegemonic masculinity.
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