"Man, your penis is ashamed of you" : discursive constructions of young South African men's ideal masculine body-images.
Socio-cultural constructions of the way in which individuals perceive their own bodies are a fundamental aspect of personal identity, and how people view and pursue their relations with others, and how they determine their position and role in society. Contemporary South African consumer culture, facilitated by globalisation, has promoted increasingly homogenous, unrealistic norms regarding what constitutes a “desirable” person. The aim of this study is to explore young men’s accounts of ideal masculine body-image and discuss the implications that these constructions have on their identities. It aims to provide an account of the discourses participants use when discussing their own and other male bodies, explore the ways in which consumerism and the media facilitate certain constructions of body-image amongst young South African men and forefront particular practices, and to highlight the social dynamics which facilitate emphasis on some discourses around the desirable ideal male body and the silencing of others. This study uses a qualitative research design and a social constructionist theoretical framework. Data was collected using semi-structured, individual interviews with 12 young men between the ages of 18 and 26 from Durban, South Africa and the data collected was analysed using discourse analysis. The results discussed six main discourses evident amongst the texts, namely, the natural body, functionality over form, the necessity of progression, the body for self and others, the body is secondary and the homosexual aversion.
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