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‘Trophy-hunting scripts’ among male university students in Zimbabwe

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Drawing on a multi-method qualitative study, this article examines ‘trophy-hunting’ scripts among male university students in Zimbabwe. ‘Trophy hunting’ is a term I have adopted to refer to hegemonic masculinity rituals through which men gain social admiration for dating and having sex with as many women as possible. I argue that this trophy hunting is exacerbated by the ‘crisis of masculinity’ which has been brought about by the harsh macroeconomic environment in Zimbabwe. The latter has reduced men's access to the material trappings that denote successful masculinity in a competitive and materialistic environment. Sexual scripting that is based on such trophy hunting makes students susceptible to acquiring HIV infection. Research was conducted with 69 male social-science students at a Zimbabwean university, and the findings were analysed within a post-structural conceptual framework. The findings point to the existence of ‘toxic masculinities’ among male students. In their endeavour to live up to hegemonic masculinity expectations of the university bachelor, they end up being trapped in what can be described as ‘toxic masculinity entrapments.’ There is a need to challenge these identities if efforts against HIV and AIDS are to be successful.

Keywords: attitudes; cultural factors; ethnography; gender issues; masculinity; sexuality; social anthropology; southern Africa

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Sociology,University of Zimbabwe, PO Box MP 167Mount Pleasant,Harare, Zimbabwe

Publication date: December 1, 2012

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