When is a choice not a choice?: Experiences of individual agency and autonomy by South African female breadwinners
Keywords:Female Breadwinner, South Africa, Gender Roles, Feminism, Psychology, Phenomenology
As part of a larger Master’s study, this paper focuses on the individual experiences of agency and autonomy communicated by a group of South African women who have overcome traditional notions of gender through their role as primary financial provider for their families. Using data collected from in-depth, unstruc-tured interviews, and reading these through a phenomenological feminist perspective, I shed some light on the perceptions of ten female breadwinners (FBW) in this paper. It is the aim of this research to represent these women’s voices in order to understand how they make meaning of and negotiate their spaces and roles as breadwinners. In the course of the interviews and analyses, the realities faced by these FBW stemming from the Mpumalanga and Gauteng provinces expose the hegemonic and heteronormative prescriptions of gender that still exist within our society, often concealed behind constructions of reform advocating gender equality.