female gangsters in South Africa

just another site for male domination.

This paper provides some interesting insights.

Some lines to catch your attention:

“Sponono was another female gang leader; she led a gang in Alexandra in the 1950s. In an unusual reversal of gender roles, men were ‘apparently scared of her and rarely risked refusing her advances’ (ibid: 192). The other powerful female gangster that we know of was the remarkably named Bitch Never Die who operated during the late 1940s and 1950s. Those men she fancied, she too ‘just took'”

“This division of labour parallels the sexual division of labour within the heterosexual non-prison world. The ‘blood line’s’ functions are like those of men: fighting, supplying protection and being the penetrative partner in sex, and those of the ‘private line’s’ are like women’s: cleaning, caring and being the receptive partner in sex. Even within all-male environments, masculinity can still be affirmed in relation to its opposite – femininity.”

“Knipe identifies women’s main role to be couriers, of drugs or firearms. This activity is particularly likely to be reserved for women because male police officers cannot body-search women. With too few female police officers available, women often do not get searched – a situation exploited as often as possible.”

“Mokwena’s comments give some of the reasons why young men are attracted to gangs – and illustrate perhaps why young women are less so. It seems unlikely that young women would look to the streets for entertainment. For many of them, the streets are sites of fear, where they are exposed to the threat of violence, and sexual abuse in particular (Hansson 1991). Hanging about on street corners for any length of time is likely to earn them the label ‘prostitute’ and it is likely that most would make some effort to avoid this stigma.”

“While the streets may be young men’s sphere, the home with its attendant domestic chores belongs to young women. Given their domestic obligations, the amount of leisure time available to them is likely to be less than that available to young men. Consequently, they also have less time to hang about or go looking for entertainment. Young women may also be mothers, another factor limiting their leisure time.

“Taken together, women’s greater involvement in church groups and their limited use of violence could be interpreted to mean that women are more moral than men – hence their limited involvement in the illegal world of gangs. But this would overlook the influence of societal norms in shaping women and men’s behaviour. Studies of gangsterism confirm the highly influential role played by movies in constructing male gangster identity. Mokwena’s informants make reference to Tony Montana of Scarface, while the name Zebra Force (used by the gang who broke into a Salvation Army girls’ home on Christmas Day 1990, abducted some girls and gang-raped them) is also taken from a movie. Morambula, the name of another prominent Soweto gangster, is a corruption of Rambo, the Sylvester Stallone character.

No equivalent cultural support for female gangsterism exists. Less than a handful of films focus on female gangsters. In the early 1990s director Alison Anders made Mi Vida Loca about female Hispanic gang members and in 1998 Set It Off was released, which starred female rapper Queen Latifah and explored the experiences of female African-American gangsters. Also in 1998 the local film Sexy Girls was released – probably the only South African film ever made about female gangsters on the Cape Flats. None were box office successes in South Africa and they hardly offer a cultural challenge to the diet of Rambos, Scarfaces, Tupac Shakurs and others of their ilk regularly served up to young men by the movie and music industry.”

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