Wits University Press 300 pages R350 n the beginning is the scream. We scream… The starting point of theoretical reflection is opposition, negativity, struggle. It is from rage that thought is born, not from the pose of reason, not from the reasoned-sitting-back-andreflecting-on-the-mysteries-of-existence that is the conventional image of ‘the thinker’.’ – Holloway, 2002.
Black urban women are a force unleashed in the #FeesMustFall movement.
Their struggle tactics are radical. Women students at the University of Cape Town (UCT), Rhodes University (Rhodes) and the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) employed the feminist activist tactic of stripping to show disgust at society. They stood topless at their barricades, most of them young, black women. These acts evoked the memory of Leymah Gbowee’s Women in Peace movement in Liberia. When forcing the warlords and the men to make a truce, they occupied the hotel where the peace meetings were being held and threatened to strip.
As the 2012 public furore over Brett Murray’s images of President Jacob Zuma displayed, revealing intimate parts of the body in the urban context still offends many black South Africans (traditionally, women in rural areas went barebreasted in public, so taboos around nudity are constructed differently). The bare-breast protest by Rhodes and Wits women students thus smashes through prevailing social norms, even activist norms.
Politics begins with the scream. The scream is not pretty. The scream tears at the social fabric of society. ‘Ugly feminists’ is about the body of the feminist and the necessary ugliness in the feminist and/or radical act.
‘Ugly feminists’ ascribes hatefulness to the feminist body as it vocalises its radical aggression. The demure African ‘girl’ has been kicked aside by