The construction of masculinity amongst sex offenders in Limpopo province.
Selepe, Dorothy Mabore Mandu.
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The construction of masculinity is vital in understanding the development of men since it has an influence on how a man perceives himself and on his behaviour. The high rape statistics have recently prompted an examination of the South African masculinity constructs and their implications of sexual violence against women. It is against this background that this study explored how sex offenders in the Correctional Centres construct masculinity, in relation to accounts of their sexual offences. Social Constructionism was selected as a conceptual lens of enquiry because it is believed that knowledge and truth are socially constructed. This approach was used to understand the role of social interaction and discourses in the constructions of masculinities. Given the exploratory nature of this study, qualitative interviews were used to examine how sex offenders create meaning around their experiences. Data was drawn from five Correctional Centres in Limpopo Province and purposive sampling was used to select the participants. Nineteen (19) sex offenders were drawn through the saturation approach to participate in the study. Data was collected by means of the use of semi-structured interviews and open-ended questions with probes and prompts to elicit a detailed description of their experiences in relation to the objectives of the study. Discourse analysis was used to identify and analyse the available discourses that sex offenders drew from, to construct their masculinities and to account for their sex offences. The findings of the study indicate that the construction of masculinities was informed by discourses of procreation, provision, initiation, sexuality and possession of assets. Since these men are placed in a confined environment with limited resources, it emerged that the participants use the available resources, such as their physical strength, toughness and perseverance to construct their masculinities. Furthermore, it was found that the participants use the blame discourse to account for their sexual offences. Most of them denied their offences. Instead, they blamed the victims and used discourses of unexplained sexual desires, sexual entitlement, absent mothers, provocative dress code and unfair laws to justify and account for their sexual offences. Based on these findings, it is recommended that multisectoral interventions are adopted to enable men to resist unhealthy and violent discourses. The promise of multi-sectoral and long-term interventions with sexual offenders is that discourses of sexual violence can be replaced with masculine discourses that advocate empathy, love, respect and tolerance of diversity.