Interrogating conceptions of manhood, sexuality and cultural identity

  • Siseko H Kumalo Philosophy Department, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
  • Lindokuhle Gama Philosophy Department, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Keywords: Inxeba (Trengove 2017), cultural masculinities, homophobia, ‘Manhood’, violence


Inxeba revived debates on ulwaluko and its attendant social discourses in South Africa. Elided by these debates, which saw the film censored from public view by the Film and Publication Board of South Africa, were formulations of ‘Manhood’ which we maintain are rooted in culture, tradition and custom; formulations that frame homosexuality as abject in our context. Through delineating Manhood from manhood proper, we argue that Inxeba reveals the nexus between Manhood, policed sexualities and cultural identity. In detailing the status of manhood proper, we critically unpack masculinity and challenge the ‘factual’ position of Manhood. The problematics which arise out of Manhood are informed by a (mis) conceptualised notion of this identity as stable and unchanging, creating dichotomous bifurcations of what constitutes being a man; a framework that is depicted and contested by the narrative of the film. Using feminist theory to interrogate culture, custom and tradition and its imposed silences on feminised bodies in contemporary South Africa, we explore how Inxeba subverts and contests Manhood through a propositioning of manhood proper.