“It’s easy to just be normal”: Performative masculinities in Die stropers





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.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...

Author Biographies

Danel Boshoff, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Danel Boshoff works at Strauss & Co. Fine Art Auctioneers and Art Consultants. She completed her postgraduate studies in the School of Communication, Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa.

Annemi Conradie, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Annemi Conradie is senior lecturer in History of Art in the School of Communication, Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa.


Andrews, Grant. “South African queer sons challenging the white father’s legacy: forging new Afrikaner male identities in Etienne Kallos’s Die stropers (The Harvesters).” NORMA: International Journal of Masculinity Studies, 2022, pp. 1–15. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/18902138.2022.2076528. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/18902138.2022.2076528

Blaser, Thomas M. & Christi van der Westhuizen. “Introduction: The paradox of post-apartheid ‘Afrikaner’ identity: Deployments of ethnicity and neo-liberalism.” African Studies vol. 71, no. 3, 2012, pp. 380–90. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00020184.2012.740882. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00020184.2012.740882

Botha, Martin P. “South African film industry.” KINEMA, 1995, pp. 1–7. DOI: https://doi.org/10.15353/kinema.vi.779. DOI: https://doi.org/10.15353/kinema.vi.779

Botha, Martin P. “The representation of gays and lesbians in South African cinema 1985–2013.” KINEMA, 2013, pp. 1–10. DOI: https://doi.org/10.15353/kinema.vi.1285. DOI: https://doi.org/10.15353/kinema.vi.1285

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. Routledge, 1990.

Butler, Judith. “Performative acts and gender constitution: An essay in phenomenology and feminist theory.” Theatre Journal vol. 40, no. 4, 1988, pp. 519–31. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/3207893. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/3207893

Chung, Sheng Kuan. “Media Literacy Art Education: Deconstructing Lesbian and Gay Stereotypes in the Media.” International Journal of Art & Design Education vol. 26, no. 1, 2007, pp. 98–107. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-8070.2007.00514.x. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-8070.2007.00514.x

Connell, Raewyn & James W. Messerschmidt. “Hegemonic masculinity: Rethinking the concept.” Gender & Society vol. 19, no. 6, 2005, pp. 829–59. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/089124320527863. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0891243205278639

Connell, Raewyn. “A very straight gay: Masculinity, homosexual experience, and the dynamics of gender.” American sociological review vol. 57, no. 6, 1992, pp. 735–51. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/2096120 DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/2096120

Connell, Raewyn. Masculinities. 2nd ed. U of California P, 2005.

Connell, Raewyn. The men and the boys. U of California P, 2000.

Crous, Marius. “Die uitbeelding van gay manlikheid in die werk van drie debuutdigters.” LitNet Akademies vol. 10, no. 1, 2013, pp. 440–74. https://www.litnet.co.za/die-uitbeelding-van-gay-manlikheid-in-die-werk-van-drie-debuutdigters/.

Crous, Marius. “‘En ek sê dis ’n trassie’: perspectives on Afrikaner homosexual identity.” Empowering Women for Gender Equity vol. 20, no. 67, 2006, pp. 48–56. https://www.jstor.org/stable/4066792.

Demetriou, Demetrakis Z. “Connell’s concept of hegemonic masculinity: a critique.” Theory and Society vol. 30, no. 3, 2001, pp. 337–61. http://www.jstor.org/stable/657965.

Dercksen, Daniel. “Writer-director Etienne Kallos talks about Die stropers (The Harvesters).” The Writing Studio. 10 Mar. 2019. https://writingstudio.co.za/writer-director-etienne-kallos-talks-about-die-stropers-the-harvesters/.

Du Pisani, Kobus. “‘Ek hou van ’n man wat sy man kan staan’: Puriteinse manlikheidsbeelde in die Afrikaanse kultuur tot 1935.” South African Journal of Cultural History vol. 18, no. 1, 2004, pp. 80–93. https://journals.co.za/doi/10.10520/EJC30596.

Du Pisani, Kobus. “Puritanism transformed: Afrikaner masculinities in the apartheid and post-apartheid period.” Changing men in Southern Africa, edited by Robert Morrell. U of Natal P & Zed, 2001, pp. 157–75.

Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Translated by Alan Sheridan. Vintage, 1979.

Hall, Kira. “Performativity.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology vol. 9, issue 1–2, 1999, pp. 184–7. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/jlin.1999.9.1-2.184. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/jlin.1999.9.1-2.184

IMDb. “Feature film, Afrikaans.” https://www.imdb.com/search/title/?title_type=feature&primary_language=af.

LaSala, Michael C. “Gay men and their fathers: hurt and healing.” Psychology Today. 13 Sep. 2010. https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/gay-and-lesbian-well-being/201009/gay-men-and-their-fathers-hurt-and-healing.

Lauenstein, Oliver, et al. “‘Oh motherland I pledge to thee …’: a study into nationalism, gender and the representation of an imagined family within national anthems.” Nations and Nationalism vol. 21, no. 2, 2015, pp. 309–29. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/nana.12123. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/nana.12123

Mankayi, Nyameka. “Race and masculinities in the South African military.” Scientia Militaria: South African Journal of Military Studies vol. 38, no. 2, 2010, pp. 22–43. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5787/38-2-88 DOI: https://doi.org/10.5787/38-2-88

McClintock, Anne. “Family feuds: Gender, nationalism and the family.” Feminist Review vol. 44, no. 1, 1993, pp. 61–80. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2307/1395196. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/fr.1993.21

Messerschmidt, James W. “The salience of “hegemonic masculinity”.” Men and masculinities vol. 22, no. 1, 2019, pp. 85–91. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1097184X1880555. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1097184X18805555

Pretorius, Fransjohan. “Mag ons vergeet?" 'n Geskiedenis-serie en Afri-kanernasionalisme, 1937–1948.” Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe vol. 54, no. 2, 2014, pp. 179–204. http://ref.scielo.org/hchhxy.

Raygan, Finn & Ashley Lynette. “Heteronormativity, homophobia and ‘culture’ arguments in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.” Sexualities vol. 17, no. 5–6, pp. 707–23. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1363460714531. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1363460714531267

Schoonover, Karl & Rosalind Galt. “The worlds of queer cinema: from aesthetics to activism.” ArtCulture vol. 17, no. 30, 2016, pp. 87–96. https://seer.ufu.br/index.php/artcultura/issue/view/1354.

Sonnekus, Theo. “‘We’re not Faggots!’: Masculinity, homosexuality and the Representation of Afrikaner Men Who have Sex with Men in the film ‘Skoonheid’ and online.” South African Review of Sociology vol. 44, no. 1, 2013, pp. 22–39. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/21528586.2013.784446. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/21528586.2013.784446

Tapaswi, H. M. “Reconsidering Performativity, Performance and Imagination: A Possibility in Erasing the Difference.” Rupkatha Journal on Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities vol. 10, no. 1, 2018, pp. 29–36. DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.21659/rupkatha.v10n1.04. DOI: https://doi.org/10.21659/rupkatha.v10n1.04

Van der Westhuizen, Christi. “Afrikaners in post-apartheid South Africa: Inward migration and enclave nationalism.” HTS: Theological Studies vol. 72, no. 4, 2016, pp. 1–9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v72i4.3351. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v72i4.3351

Van der Westhuizen, Christi. Sitting Pretty: White Afrikaans Women in Postapartheid South Africa. U of KwaZulu-Natal P, 2017.

Van Hoeij, Boyd. “‘The Harvesters’ (‘Die stropers’): Film review/Cannes 2018.” The Hollywood Reporter. 16 May 2018. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/review/harvesters-die-stropers-1112362.

Webb, Vic & Mariana Kriel. “Afrikaans and Afrikaner nationalism.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language vol. 2000, no. 144, 2000, pp. 19–50. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl.2000.144.19. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl.2000.144.19

Weems, Lisa. “Chapter Five: The Quare Agenda of “RuPaul’s Drag U”.” Counterpoints vol. 437, 2014, pp. 89–104. https://www.jstor.org/stable/42981933.

Whitehead, Stephen. “Hegemonic masculinity revisited.” Gender, Work & Organization vol. 6, no. 1, 1999, pp. 58– 62. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0432.00069. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0432.00069

Xue, Changxue. “Critically Evaluate the Understanding of Gender as Discourse.” International Education Studies vol. 1, no. 2, 2008, pp. 54–7. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1058023. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/ies.v1n2p54

Yang, Yuchen. “What’s hegemonic about hegemonic masculinity? Legitimation and beyond.” Sociological Theory vol. 38, no. 4, 2020, pp. 318–33. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0735275120960792. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0735275120960792




How to Cite

Boshoff, D., & Conradie, A. (2023). “It’s easy to just be normal”: Performative masculinities in Die stropers. Tydskrif Vir Letterkunde, 60(1), 42–56. https://doi.org/10.17159/tl.v60i1.14099



Research articles