Fighting to the last drop of our blood: Invocations of radical struggle masculinity among black student politicians in South Africa

This article examines how gender, race and class intersect with discourses of the struggle against apartheid in one of South Africa’s former black universities situated in the country’s northernmost province of Limpopo. The article, an analysis of left wing student politics, shows that the male student politicians in Limpopo draw on struggle discourses of warfare and violence that become hegemonic in their own right, which calls for an intersectional reading of masculinities not only with race and class, but also with history and local context. The argument builds on insights gained in recent studies of masculinities in South Africa, where Connell’s conceptual framework of hegemonic masculinity has been applied to the understanding of how powerful and dominant versions of masculinity subordinate less dominant masculinities as well as women. Simultaneously, the argument is inspired by nuanced criticisms of that very framework made in anthropology and psychology, where hegemonic masculinities are generally seen to be overly categorical, too sealed off from other social forces (or hegemonies) and not sufficiently grounded in a specific socio-cultural context.

Keywords: struggle masculinity, South Africa, student politics, race, hegemony, intersectionality