Violence and the Gendered Shaming of Female Bodies and Women's Sexuality: A Feminist Literary Analysis of Selected Fiction by South African Women Writers
This article analyses selected literary representations of the intersections of gender, violence and the dynamics of shaming female bodies and women's sexuality to demonstrate how discursive and epistemological constructions of gender create an environment where gender violence becomes the norm rather than an aberration. I seek to unpack how selected authors represent the ways in which seemingly harmless assumptions about women's bodies and sexualities form part of a much larger, insidious and profoundly misogynist system of gendered power inequalities. The analysis suggests that this is a social system in which all women are both vulnerable and acutely aware of their gendered vulnerability to violence. The primary texts that I will analyse are Period Pain (2016) by Kopano Matlwa and Broken Basket (2016) by Francine Mann. Both these novels represent how female characters, albeit ones who are differently situated, negotiate their lives against a backdrop of repeated references to the shame that is vested in their bodies and sexualities and how they must ultimately deal with the progression of violence from a discursive to a physical reality.