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Category Archives: Feminism

Yindaba Kabani Nxa ndilahl’umlenze: That Time When I “Hung Out My Thighs For All To See”

Written by Doreen Gaura for iamTehn 

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So it was a regular Saturday morning (and by morning I mean well after midday) and I was chilling at home, you know? Vegeing out, minding my own business, dealing with my most recent existential crisis (I get a lot of those and quite frequently too) of whether or not getting out of bed and showering was something that featured in my immediate future when my phone went off. It was a whatsapp message. “Could it be Great Mother Universe stepping in to rescue me from the prospect of a dreadful day of planlessness brought on by that insidious devil called brokeness?” I wondered as I excitedly picked up my phone to open the message. I could barely contain my excitement I was almost certain I was going to need to open a bottle of wine right there and then and take a swig straight from the tap just to calm my nerves when lo and behold, right before my eyes, was a message from one of my uncles instructing me to change my whatsapp profile picture right before he proceeded to question my sanity. o_O!

I was so angry I almost did actually open that bottle and take that swig but because I was operating in rationing mode due to my most recent post holiday financial crisis and also, well, because I am not an alcoholic (of course) I opted to make a really strong cup of filter coffee instead. That and ignore the message. I have a general rule not to respond to anything whilst I am angry, especially if it’s coming from family, friends or jobage people a.k.a. colleagues. My weekend shot on by, in that hateful bullet-speed way weekends tend to do without any further incidence. Monday arrived, uninvited as usual, *blegh* and yet another message pertaining to the offending image found its way to my whatsapposphere but this time it was from another uncle, whose approach, to his credit, was a lot more tactful because he first acknowledged its “artistic” value (bless his heart) before telling me that he considers it inappropriate. I again chose to not respond instead waited another couple of days before I eventually did.

During this waiting period I experienced various emotions; of which, to be honest, most of them were really just a variation of anger; and also drafted and redrafted my response to them, all the while leaving the controversial image, right where it was, as my profile picture. After venting to friends, consulting the ancestors and battling with myself over what to do I eventually respectfully responded to both uncles inviting them to a mature and respectful dialogue on the issue of my (exposed) thighs and my identity as a post-colonial/ Afro feminist, Afrocentric Pan-Afrikanist and Afro Spiritualist woman.

Outside of the obvious personal/subjective elements that this whole situation just by its very nature presents, there are greater issues that speak to public politics as well as identity at play. This seemingly minor debate goes beyond my whatsapp profile picture, power struggles within my family and my uber sexy thighs (yes, I have decided that they are uber sexy) but speaks to various problematic issues that exist within our communities, especially in Zimbabwe. It is really because of those issues that I’ve got my knickers all bunched up in an uncomfortable knot and has left me feeling some type of way and I’ll quickly highlight two of them here.

  1. One of my uncles, rather predictably, pulled out the “our culture” card and I felt compelled to inform him that in recent years I have made the conscious decision not to put too much stock in the dictates of our quasi “Afrikan” culture as much of it is grossly contaminated by the influence of our colonisers and their religions. It has, in the main, become so bastardized that much of it, and how we engage with it, makes a mockery of our pre-colonial/”authentic” ancestral heritage. It is true that cultures evolve and some may argue that is what happened with our cultures on the continent as they have done most everywhere else in the world but what people do not take into consideration is the conditions under which our cultures “evolved” i.e. oppression, colonisation and slavery. When the occupiers of our lands came, they observed and judged our societies and the way we lived. They decided that our way of life was wrong, they interpreted it using their own understanding and in certain countries, like SA for example, they decided to codify our laws using this understanding and make them secondary to their own which they deemed superior.

It is worth noting that many of our societies had more “revealing” dress codes in those days and the sexualisation of the black body as we know it today (both female and male) is as a result of the adulteration of our cultures and it has reconfigured our moral compass to align itself with that of the colonial masters, ultimately dividing our communities by not only introducing foreign definitions of masculinity and femininity; creating binaries in societies that traditionally had a lot of grey areas but also by creating new hierarchical structures that are more oppressive and destructive e.g. patriarchy.

  1. My uncle also pointed out that according to our “Afrikan” culture (because we must remember ka that Afrika is a country with one culture, one chief and one donkey and plough) certain parts of the body are not meant for public consumption and true as that may be this is not true to the parts in question here and as I have already highlighted, back in the day, and in very few places today, boobs, thighs and buttocks were the order of the day in our communities’ fashion trends, from the oldest gogo to the youngest little whippersnapper in the village. The female body is sacred. This was true then and this is true today and our people knew that respect of this body was not only the responsibility of the soul in it but also the responsibility of all who gazed upon it and that is why it was not necessary to impose morality and ensure personal safety and bodily integrity by covering it up.

This kind of thinking that informed my family’s intervention plays out almost daily in public spaces where in our cities and villages, women are subjected to being harassed and stripped by mobs of mostly men, for donning clothes considered indecent and you have countries like Uganda that have even criminalised the wearing of mini skirts. The notion that certain parts of the female body being exposed automatically translates to an open invitation for anyone to help themselves to it, be it by physically taking it forcefully, or by hurling verbal abuse at a woman and her body and turning around and placing the responsibility and blame on the victim of their violation not only vindicates but also condones the alarmingly increasing levels of gender based violence in our societies. It also supports the notion that we (women) are minors and that our bodies do not belong to us but instead belong to the men in our communities giving them the go ahead to define and dictate how we should live in them and for the men to do with as they please. What is particularly troubling is that instead of men (and other women) standing with us to fight these heinous forms of oppression and violation which are the ones that actually go against our authentic culture, they endorse them.

The controversial image that is my profile picture when captured and posted as such was never meant to be sexualized and by extension controversial. The focus when captured was not on my thighs but on my feet and the water and it was in this spirit it was posted which begs the question “who is really responsible for any discomfort in this context? The subject of the image or the one engaging with it or both?”

We take pride as a nation in being conservative, despite the fact this conservativeness can be attributed to colonisation gone “right” more than it can be attributed to the preservation of our cultural identity and heritage. It is only in an attempt to justify oppression and exploitation that people pull out the “culture” card and champion and claim it as ours even though most of it really isn’t not to mention that most of us have turned our backs on our ancestors and their ways of knowing and doing and labelled them as evil and/or demonic. The result of this is an increasingly divided community with women being pitted against men and vice versa by false cultural ideals and ill informed western neo liberal (western feminism) ideals simply because as women we fight for our natural and authentic cultural rights to be respected, loved, seen as equals and to be safe in our homes and our communities. Not only will I continue to challenge this foolishness but mina ngizabe ngilokhu ngilahlumlenze wami ngoba thina njengabantu abamunyama, siphila ngengoma njalo ngiyaziqenya ngalokho (I shall continue to dance this way because as children of the soil we live by the drum and I pride myself in this). That is the way of my people.

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Afrika’s Lament by Philisile Mudekunye

My lips are the bark battered by wind
My skin the ground cracked by drought
My arms are the wiry sinews that hold up a bridge (to many lands)
My feet as hard as the rock I dig my heels into

Thin, hungry, bleeding from the cracks in my skin

Pitied by passers by
Loathed by the ones I bore
Rejected by those who came with a mind to save me

Battered face, bruised body
Yet I’m soothed when I look in the still pool of water
For the reflection does not capture the turmoil within me
The children in my womb are at war, forgetting they are of the same yolk

In my hands are silver and gold
But my children flee from my embrace
They instead stand afar and watch as strange men come forth to caress and ravage me
Strange men with tongues that can’t even say my name

My garments are tattered,
My hair a tangled mess
Covering a brilliance that even I shy away from
My infinite wisdom hidden from my children,
who are only mesmerised by the stumbling traveller

I am a mother, my arms wide open
Yet my children flee from me
I am a woman, bearing within me untold treasures
But my little ones want none of it

* Philisile Mudekunye is a 20 something year old Swazi-Shona lady, medical doctor by profession, but a student of life. A lover of life, laughter and all things beautiful. “I’m passionate about issues that affect women…I also dream of and pray for the day Africa will sell her treasures to the West only on her own terms.”

© Philisile Mudekunye 2013

 

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Chiwoniso: The Power of an Ancient Voice

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It’s a school night, either in 1992 or 1993, I can’t really remember, and I am sitting on our kitchen counter in our old house in Mutare, Zimbabwe with my “twin sister” Judy and we are laughing and snapping our little fingers to a song we are hearing for the first time that is blasting from our older sister’s radio cassette player. The song is From the Native Tongue by 90s Zim hip hop outfit A Peace of Ebony. My older sister is excited to share this awesome song by one of her former classmates at Mutare Girls High School, Chiwoniso Maraire, with us and she joins us in our revelry that night, singing and dancing along to the music in my grandparent’s kitchen.

It was then that, without even realising it at the time, 7/8 year old me fell ridiculously in love with this fiercely inspirational and gifted woman without even really understanding what her music meant, what it stood for, what it represented or that as time went on, she would proceed to be one of Zimbabwe’s best known female musicians and cultural icons who established a name for herself in her 20 year + career as queen of the mbira – both as a solo artist and as a member of bands like A Peace of Ebony, Andy Brown & the Storm and Women’s Voice – nationally and internationally. In her short but very full life, she received various accolades for her talents both locally and internationally and collaborated with other artists from around the globe which include Ambuya Stella Chiweshe, Tumi & the Volume, Busi Ncube, Baaba Maal, Sinead O’Connor and Mari Boine.

I was out with friends when I got the news of her passing two nights ago and I shocked both myself and my friend with the amount of grief that overwhelmed me. I was embarrassed and confused by my little episode and I still am in a lot of ways. I make no pretences here of having had any sort of reciprocal relationship with Chiwoniso outside of the one way one which really boiled down to me being insanely and unabashedly in love with her and her music and her Spirit. I did not know this woman personally and had only ever spoken to her once 8 years ago when I had found myself dining at a table away from hers at the Italian Bakery in Avondale, Harare and I had gone up to her to make an idiot groupie of myself and ask for a photograph with her, to which she happily obliged. I have never even attended any of her shows (and not due to a lack of trying) and I have only ever seen her perform live once at this past HIFA edition where she cameod in the Noisettes’ performance, so why was I, and still am, taking this so hard? Me, of all people. The same person who has in the past judged others very harshly for making a big deal about celebrity deaths. Heck! I have even written a whole blog post that generously served up my judgement when Whitney Houston died for crying out loud!

A lot of possible explanations come to mind which include my own mother’s death at thirty six (just one year younger than Chiwoniso was) 10 years ago exactly on the 17th of July, as well as me empathetically grieving for a newly made friend (along with her siblings) who not only had a mentor but a mother in Chiwoniso. Grieving for them and all the other people I know, mostly young Zimbabwean artists, who did in fact have real and mutually beneficial relationships with Chiwoniso, those who called her sister. Grieving for my nation, for even though some may not realise it, but we have suffered a great loss. We have lost a musical and cultural icon, pioneer, teacher, warrior and leader.

It is from the last reason that I find the courage to write this because I think the world must hear about her and the impact she has had on so many young Zimbabweans’ lives, even if it is only from my humble and very personal perspective. I am not going to give you a historical account of her life or career as I do not know anymore than what is already available on dozens of websites on the internet but I will tell you about her life within my own and possibly other fans out there.

Although I am not a musician (Lord knows I wish I was), Chiwoniso and her music still inspired me to be myself and be unapologetic for it in spite of any resistance or judgement that may come my way. Having partly grown up in the U.S. Chiwoniso was still very in touch with her roots and identity as a Manica woman, probably more so than a lot of young Zimbabwean women of both our generations are, and this set her apart from the rest. Indeed she came from a very musical family but to assume that to be the only source of her great talent would be a great dishonour to her memory. Her courage and passion that resonate through her music played a big role in gaining her status as a gender bending female mbira player and cultural ambassador despite the fact that traditionally women weren’t known to play the mbira. Her music speaks a lot to identity. The identity of tribes and cultures, of a nation, of the feminine and of the individual and it was through this that she inspired my love for culture, love for the spirit of the mbira and my reverence for ancestry.

When I saw her on stage with the Noisettes, Hope Masike and Tariro Ruzvidzo or in her music videos, I saw Spirit in her. The Spirit that chose her and gave her its gift of music. Gift of the mbira. Having learnt almost a year ago that I have a calling to become a sangoma, I have struggled to accept this new reality and I have battled with it. I have cried and I have pleaded with my ancestors to choose someone else because I did not want it. I have been terrified by the idea of never moving back home because I would be too afraid to live in Zimbabwe amongst the people I have known and grown up with and shared a life with now that I have this “thing” that only served to make me even more weird, more random, more of a misfit and now added to the mix, untouchable but then I saw the Spirit in Chiwoniso and it was nothing short of inspirational and almost comforting.

Ours is a country of mostly (Christian) conservative people and they don’t like anything too “unusual” or too eccentric (never mind that in Zimbabwe something as simple as dreadlocks is enough to have you qualified as eccentric and troubled) so it is no real shock that I have heard people describe Chiwoniso as “very talented but a bit too random” or “she has lost the plot”. Some even had the gall to say that she is too crazy and attributed her extraordinariness to “smoking too much weed” as though they knew her like that. It is no real shock but it is infuriating all the same. Like I said, I didn’t know her personally but I saw what a lot of these people did not see and that was her gift, her calling. Callings come in various forms and it is not everyone who has a calling who is meant to be a healer. Some become artists, social instructors, messengers as it were, through their art and Chiwoniso was one such person. She embodied ancestors from her family line that had chosen her. The Spirit of the Mbira, the Ancestors, had chosen her to be an instructor just as my Spirit has chosen me to be a diviner. Staying true to the meaning of her name, she brought enlightenment to all those who took in her music. The Ancient Voices really and truly did speak through her and will continue to do so through the legacy she has left behind as a gift to us.

I do not know if this is something she knew or acknowledged but if I am to hazard a guess based on the subject matter of her music and the person I saw in her, I would say she did and not only that but she embraced it and lived it and because of this, she inspired me to embrace and live my calling too. Although, we are probably nothing alike she certainly directly and indirectly declared to the world through her stage presence and the conviction in her voice and her relationship with the mbira that it was ok to be nobody else but herself making it possible for me (and hopefully a lot of other young brown women and girls) to declare the same of myself.

Her strength and integrity resonated in her music and her relationships with both those she knew and those she didn’t, family/friends and fans alike. She unwittingly helped shape my personal and communal identity as a young Zimbabwean brown woman and although I only ever became conscious of the impact her music and her person had on me in my late teens, her work on me had started over two decades ago, on one random week night in my grandparents’ kitchen in Mutare. So to her I say “Mai, fambai zvakanaka. Basa masiya mapedza. Thobela.” (Go well mother. Your work here is done. Rejoice.)

 

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The Autumn Of My Life

Artist Unknown

Artist Unknown

The brown of the leaves

Like the brown of my skin

And that of my kin

And no matter what anyone else believes

That colour, in its richness

Is the colour of life

In spite of all the pain, toil and strife

Our strength, my strength,

No one else can ever possess

This brown signifies the establishment of my autumn

My growth into a proud Afrikan wom(b)an

Not very different from a man

But entirely unique in my essence from top to bottom

And yet this manifestation of the self

MY self

Is not entirely welcome

As I am breaking out of the mould

And if am not careful

I will be left alone out in the cold

The red of the leaves

Like the soil of my Motherland Dzimba dze mabwe

Stained by the blood of those who once were

And the tears of She who still grieves

Is a visual proclamation

Of the passion that lies within ME

If I let it burst out of me

I will be subject to society’s condemnation

But in this the autumn of my life

Do I still fear this?

No siree!, I embrace it with a kiss

And face it head on armed with a knife

The knife I call freedom

Freedom to be me

Freedom to just be

Me

And with this knife I will cut through the restraints that are binding me

And be finally free

Free

To love without conditions

To make love with no inhibitions

To fight for my beliefs

And not worry about stupid what ifs

The gold of the leaves

Is the colour of my aura

The light that shines out of me and of this I have never been surer

From now on I will do as I please.

To the music of my ancestors I will dance

To the unspoken jokes in my head

I will throw my head back and laugh

For there’ll be no reason to be sad

This while I dance,

Dance as though I were in a trance

Because this music and these jokes

Much like calligraphy and the care taken with each stroke

I share with the Universe as She takes me out of myself just for this dance

This dance which serves to show me that I am not in Her

But She is within me

Around me

She is everywhere

I am the Universe

The Great Mother

And She is me

This is the autumn of my life

As the leaves fall to the ground and the flowers die

They symbolize the death of the old and pave the way for the newer and truer me

A newer and more beautiful me to adorn the ever strong trunk and branches that remain strong

As the core and foundation should be

Deeply rooted into the ground and in eternal contact with the Great Mother.

As the superficial transforms and falls away

To make way for the other

The other that is the realer and truer me

The other who comes and partakes in spiritual intercourse with the Great Mother

And together they find a harmony

And give birth to an immaculate symphony

That will forever resound in my soul

For that is the ultimate goal

In this, the autumn of my life.

© Doreen Victoria Gaura/ Colouredraysofgrey, 2013

 

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From Womb to Tomb. For Better or Worse

1.

 

Those eyes

So brown,

No!

Almost hazel

Yes, hazel

So beautiful

That boyish smile

That brings into union those which are the windows to one’s soul

To form a doorway

To one’s sacred god self

How can any woman resist

Let alone me

A naïve little girl

The first son to my adoring parents

How am I to resist your smooth charm?

When in my virtuous purity

I so desperately need to express my femininity

The femininity in me that I am too afraid to know

The sensuality I am too afraid to explore

Because although I am a girl

I may as well be my parents’ first son

I can do no wrong

I have never thought myself pretty or attractive

Even though everyone else thinks so

Perhaps it is my caramel skin

Or my dark, curly, soft hair

Or the brown freckles on my nose and cheeks?

Is it my wide toothy smile

Or perhaps my hourglass figure?

Is it my long slender fingers?

Or maybe it’s my pointy nose?

Perhaps it’s a combination of all those things.

I can’t know because whatever it is, I don’t see it myself

He stares at me

Makes as if to reach for my luxurious afro

But I guess he changes his mind because he drops his hand to his side

Before he reaches it

He smiles at me and shakes his head

There’s that disarming smile again

I am trembling

And my face is burning

Can he somehow see through my skirt?

Can he see the wetness between my thighs?

Is it dripping down my legs?

My face gets even redder and hotter

What does he think of me?

I fidget and ask him if he wants a pamphlet

He takes one

Slowly and lightly strokes my fingers as he does so

She steps up next to me & introduces herself

I wish was as confident as she is

She’s a real woman my sister

Has an easy way with men

But of course she does

She’s a real woman

Her smile

Her laugh

Her gestures

So inviting

So seductive

So un-me and yet…

All me

On the inside

She tells him I am single

Tells him I like him

I want to die

But then he tells her he likes me too

He wants to get to know me

My heart skips a beat

Before it breaks out into song

***

2.

 

He is charming

Hypnotizing

He is beautiful

Older

Much older

And worldly

He is irresistible

& yet…

Here I am

Resisting

His kisses are no longer sweet

His touch no longer tender

His voice no longer gentle

My moans have turned into screams

My glee into terror

My beautiful moment into a horror show

My wetness into desert

Wait!

I start to feel the wetness again

But this time it’s blood

“Are you sure you said no?” she asks

“But what else did you think he wanted? He is not a boy but a man” she says

“Don’t worry, you don’t fall pregnant from your first time” she adds

First time?

Is one’s first time meant to be stolen?

Ripped out from one’s tight grip?

Is it meant to hurt, defile and destroy?

Am I overreacting?

Is she right? Am I a prude?

Yes, she’s right.

After all sex is what real women do

I am a woman now

Soon to be a mother

And yet… still a girl

***

3.

 

Your eyes

Your beautiful and open smile

I get it

It makes sense

Who can resist you?

But… at the same time

Who could ever hurt you?

I never thought you strong

It took your leaving for me to see your strength

To know you

To know myself

To know true love

The love you searched for since my conception

The love you never found

The search for which you have continued

Even long after you’ve been gone

Every day you had to fight

Fight for love

His love

Mine

Fight with the limitless love you had for us both

His heart was made of stone

Not meant to feel

But to hurt

Hurt you

Hurt me

Hurt everyone

It continued to hurt you

While his smile continued to charm

Give you false hope

Not for yourself

But for me

His touch never again got tender

His words never softer

His kisses never sweeter

He continued to rape and pillage

Even long after he had defeated your body

You were a child

& he a man

A man you loved

For so long but oh so wrong

No matter how much he hurt you

No matter how much he hurt your children

You still loved him

Because that is all you knew to do

Love

Your strength was also your weakness

Your sacrifice your betrayal

You had done what couldn’t be undone all those years ago

& yet you fought to the death

To make that wrong right

The wrong done to you not by you

You were stronger than you thought

You are stronger still, than you realize

You are a warrior

Your love continues to be your greatest weapon

It is powerful

It is eternal

It continues to achieve the things you set out to do before you left

It took you leaving for me to see it

To feel it

It shields me

It nourishes me

It guides me

And all I can hope for is to love the way you love

Not fearlessly

But courageously

Not foolishly but relentlessly

Not selfishly but sacrificially

Because although I did not know, neither did I understand, all the wars you had to fight back then

I know and understand them now

Although I did not know just how much hatred and evil you had to take in back then

I now know how much love you gave back out

Anger, violence, fear, betrayal and evil surround my creation

But love, kindness, selflessness, forgiveness, strength and perseverance my germination & growth

It is those things that I will hold on to

The things I will nurture and grow

The things I will fight to keep alive within me

Because although the things he brought into my existence are a part of me

I will not let them survive or find a home within me

It is the things that you brought into my existence that are the legacy that you left me

The legacy I want to hold on to

And when all is said and done

And we have reached the end of this journey

I will come before you

And offer this legacy back up to you

In thanks and in love

Not as the child you left

But as the woman you hoped I would grow into

© Doreen Victoria Gaura/ Colouredraysofgrey, 2013

 

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The Sexualisation of Women in the Media: Freedom of Expression or Oppression

Below is the unedited version of a paper I wrote for Gender Links‘ 10th issue of the Gender and Media Diversity Journal titled Gender, Popular Culture and Media Freedom .which was published and launched on the 15th of May, 2012. The published final edit of this paper is currently unavailable online without purchasing the journal. It is an in depth analysis of dynamics surrounding the sexualisation of women in the media with a particular focus on hip hop, advertising and pornography.

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I have felt, for a while now, that the largely growing movement against the sexual portrayal of women by and in the media is somewhat narrow often making biased analyses informed largely by the personal. Of course the issue, in and of itself, is extremely personal, as well as political, in the broader sense, but it is mainly informed by their (gender activists) own opinions, validated by data that supports these opinions, while believing that they are or rather they should be supported by all women, including those whom they purport to represent.

It is true that it is pivotal to the quest for gender equality for the media to be more gender sensitive and not only practice but also encourage gender parity in its operations, publications and programming however we need not lose sight of what it is that we, as gender activists in Southern Africa, aim to achieve and what we mean by gender equality. I feel that although the media in most instances presents a diminutive picture of women, this war waged against the media’s portrayal of women ultimately leaves the women who practice their rights to freedom of expression and choice in the position of collateral damage.

In my opinion, the true empowerment of women is giving them a choice in all aspects of their life. Most other feminists tend to be very prescriptive and by doing so tend to have an approach that appears to reinforce the same patriarchal views that we fight against, only it is in a different way.

The gender movement in Africa seems to be mainly made up of the middle class academic elite or the religious, cultural or traditional moralists who feel that they know better about what it is that the ‘less empowered’ women should want. A case in point is the issue of sex, sexuality and sensuality and the expression therefore. Patriarchy, as way of duct taping female expression, has entrenched in society the ‘lady’ archetype that is basically a woman who is modest, demure, sexually ‘pure’ and never aspires to sexual gratification and pleasure but instead views sex as a way of fulfilling their maternal and reproductive roles and anything more would make her a ‘whore’ thus giving birth to the whore paradigm which has also found roots in some gender sensitive spaces:

“It is tragic that some/many women base their sense of worth on how ‘desirable’ they are- and truly ironic, considering we live in a world where sexual abuse is so rampant. Until women start taking themselves more seriously, and go all-out to instigate change and challenge the system, the world will never change for the better.”

The above statement is a comment that was made on a Gender Links facebook post on women and the media. This gives the impression that feminism seeks to do the same (as patriarchy) by making sexuality a degrading and disempowering thing and determining what constitutes a ‘serious’ woman with a high ‘sense of worth’; worth as is determined by the feminist sorority.

Yes, the media in this region should be monitored and taken to task for its contribution to negative and harmful reinforcements because it has a responsibility, bestowed it by the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development Article 30 of the Protocol but at the same time we should be careful not to wage a war on women who would rather subscribe to these stereotypes. The same women we claim to be representing and yet we have very little knowledge, understanding or acceptance of them.

The hip hop scene, pornography and advertising have been identified as the biggest culprits and I have made an attempt to look at all these three areas from an as objective perspective as possible taking into consideration both sides of the argument before drawing my conclusion. 

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My Afrikan Feminism

I am a woman of Afrikan origin who embraces and celebrates the knowledge that, like all women, she is a personification of the Goddess and that she is a part of a sisterhood that has been celebrated and venerated in a past age but is, in the present age, oppressed and is weakened but not defeated. Accosted but not destroyed. When asked to define Afrikan feminism I say that Afrika is one big beautiful calabash filled with different and magnificent colours, shapes and sizes of stones, seeds, sands, waters and flora. I am one of those and I know that although I am an individual I am also a part of a whole. A family of creation. My core feels deeply and widely because it is not just my pain and sorrow or elation I feel when I feel but it is the feelings of the other occupants of this bag, however different they maybe from me. My feminism comes in when I identify with my warrior self. She whose quest is not to conquer and destroy, but to empower the members of her community – in its entirety and diversity – but especially the members of the sisterhood. Those who know what I know but have forgotten over time and space. Her quest is to remind them that they have the power to choose, not just to survive but to live and manifest the Goddess in them. It is not about getting them to walk my path – because mine is set out just for me – but to find their own set out just for them individually and choose to walk them. I seek not to teach them the ways of others but to teach them to find their own way as others have, whatever those ways may be.

This continent, our Mother, tells a story of beauty, of love, of hatred, of freedom, of oppression, of joy, of sorrow, of anger, of spirituality, of faith, of wisdom, of knowledge, of science, of magic, of tears, of laughter, of music, of dance, of passion, of sexuality, of sensuality, of death, of unity, of conflict, of family, of friendship, of loyalty, of acceptance, of hospitality, of rejection, of animosity, of hunger, of plenty, of abundance, of wealth, of generosity, of theft, of sacrifice, of loyalty, of betrayal, of envy, of jealousy, of pride, of heaven, of hell, of destruction, of creation but most of all, a story of strength and resilience, a story of survival. A story of Life. A story that cannot be told by one person or told only once or told in just one way or in just one voice. Hers is a never ending story.

They call Her the “dark continent” and tell stories of desolation and destruction but no light has ever shone brighter than the light that She shines and that is why She remains the most coveted in the world. She represents each and every woman born to Her and we represent Her. She is the beginning and She shall be the end, whenever She chooses it to be so. This is the story of the Afrikan woman. The Afrikan feminist. For as long as we continue to wear the shackles around us, the shackles around our minds and our bodies, She too shall She continue to wear the shackles around Herself; In solidarity and in mourning. No one can tell Afrika who She is and no one can tell you who you are. No one but yourself. Not the ram of patriarchy nor the serpent of matriarchy. Just you. My feminism is not to tell you who you should be but to tell you, and them, who I am. To pave the way for you to do the same if you so choose and hopefully I will inspire you to make the choice to choose for yourself too sister. That is my Afrikan Feminism.

© Doreen Victoria Gaura/ Colouredraysofgrey, 2012

 

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