Breaking the Rules: Zodwa Wabantu and Postfeminism in South Africa

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

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Breaking the Rules: Zodwa Wabantu and Postfeminism in South Africa


  • Priscilla Boshoff School of Journalism and Media Studies, Rhodes University, South Africa


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Abstract:  Zodwa Wabantu, a South African celebrity recently made popular by the Daily Sun, a local tabloid newspaper, is notorious as an older working-class woman who fearlessly challenges social norms of feminine respectability and beauty. Her assertion of sexual autonomy and her forays into self-surveillance and body-modification, mediated by the Daily Sun and other tabloid and social media platforms, could be read as a local iteration of a global postfeminist subjectivity. However, the widespread social opprobrium she faces must be accounted for: Using Connell’s model of the gender order together with a coloniality frame, I argue that northern critiques of postfeminism omit to consider the forms of patriarchy established by colonialism in southern locales such as South Africa. The local patriarchal gender order, made visible within the tabloid reportage, provides the context within which the meaning of Zodwa Wabanu’s contemporary postfeminist identity is constructed. I examine a range of Zodwa Wabantu’s (self)representations in Daily Sun and other digital media in the light of this context, and conclude that a close examination of the local gender order assists in understanding the limits of postfeminism’s hegemony.

Keywords:  coloniality; Daily Sun; gender; postfeminism; South Africa; tabloid

Published:   23 March 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v9i2.3830


© Priscilla Boshoff. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.