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Paradoxes of Butchness: Lesbian Masculinities and Sexual Violence in Contemporary South Africa

In the past decade, violence targeting South African lesbians has increased exponentially. This article explores the multifaceted causes of this violence and its theoretical implications. Unstable parameters of masculinities and men’s exclusive claims to them are revealed in the ways that lesbian butchness threatens what it means to be a man, a question heightened in contemporary South Africa. The paradoxes of butchness and the possibilities offered by South African activists combating corrective or curative rape and murder suggest new models for reconceptualizing gender and sexuality more broadly.