Chapter

“Rape” and violence in the making of segregation

Ivan Evans

in Cultures of Violence

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780719079047
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702208 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719079047.003.0002
“Rape” and violence in the making of segregation

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‘The protection of our women’ became a prominent mantra of white politics in South Africa and the South in the postbellum period. Because economic, cultural and social relations in both racial orders were inseverably bound up with gender relations, significant changes in race relations simultaneously inflamed deep-seated anxieties concerning the security and status of white women. At the centre of these anxieties resided the black male as a sexual predator. Despite their different histories – one a recent slave society, the other a still-precarious settler colonial society – this mutual sexual stereotyping expressed the three-fold thrust of white male domination: to gain control over black males, retain access to black women and inoculate all white women at all times from the black-male-as-rapist. Focusing on the violence that rape myths inspired, this chapter shows that racial violence in South Africa and the South were conditioned by contrasting patterns of state formation in the aftermath of debilitating wars. It is organized into three sections dealing with the impact of rape scares on state formation. Each section demonstrates that whites in South Africa and the American South, although haunted by similar sexual fears, drew on different traditions and took different paths when the moment to act arrived.

Keywords: South Africa; American South; state formation; Black Peril; rape myths; racial violence; black males; white women

Chapter.  15368 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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