Women take a stand

Sowetan - - NEWS - San­diso Ngubane Ix­han­tilam, [email protected]­tan.co.za

FEM­I­NISM is alive and well, boldly de­clares the sub­head­ing of the Fem­i­nist­sSA.com web­site.

The site hosts posts from var­i­ous con­trib­u­tors who are ei­ther self-de­scribed fem­i­nists or those who sim­ply want to share their views on the sub­ject.

One of th­ese con­trib­u­tors is Atham­bile Ma­sola, a Cape Town high school teacher with a mas­ter of ed­u­ca­tion de­gree from Rhodes Univer­sity.

Ma­sola also runs her own blog the Xhosa word for “a sa­cred place in the home­stead where the fam­ily meets and com­munes with the an­ces­tors”, ac­cord­ing to the author.

The 26-year-old iden­ti­fied her­self as fem­i­nist and said the move­ment was more rel­e­vant now than ever be­fore. “We may have the same rights as men on pa­per, but the lived ex­pe­ri­ence is still very dif­fer­ent.

“We live with the il­lu­sion that be­cause the pa­per rev­o­lu­tion has hap­pened we can rest, but the real work of fem­i­nism has just be­gun.”

If the in­ter­net is any­thing to go by, it ap­pears mil­lions around the world agree with Ma­sola de­spite many at­tempts to de­clare fem­i­nism a thing of the past.

Search re­sults bring up many blogs about gen­der jus­tice.

Twit­ter ac­counts like the United States-based Fem­i­nist Hulk have fol­low­ers that num­ber in the tens of thou­sands. For the most part, as a lot of fem­i­nist women might tell you, fem­i­nism is seen as a bad word.

Last week, a 17-year-old Bri­tish stu­dent wrote in The Guardian news­pa­per about the neg­a­tive ex­pe­ri­ence she had in es­tab­lish­ing a fem­i­nist so­ci­ety at her school.

“A group of men in a car started wolf-whistling and shout­ing sex­ual re­marks at my friends and me.

“I asked the men if they thought it was ap­pro­pri­ate for them to be abus­ing a group of 17-year-old girls.

“The re­sponse was furious. [They] started swear­ing at me, called me a bitch and threw a cup of cof­fee over me,” she wrote.

This is the kind of abuse Le­bo­hang Masango, an­other self-de­scribed fem­i­nist, said needs to stop be­fore we even be­gin to think that fem­i­nism is no longer nec­es­sary.

“I see fem­i­nism as pol­i­tics that el­e­vates love, jus­tice and equal­ity for all hu­man be­ings.

“It looks at marginalised hu­man be­ings and, be­cause of pa­tri­archy, women are largely marginalised.

“But if you are a fem­i­nist, I be­lieve that you are fight­ing for so­cial jus­tice for ev­ery­one be­cause, as a woman, you have a spouse, you have chil­dren, friends and fam­ily.”

Masango, 24, also runs a blog of her own where she posts is­sues she is pas­sion­ate about, fem­i­nism in­cluded.

“Fem­i­nism works in all our lives. What makes me, specif­i­cally, a fem­i­nist is I no­tice how pa­tri­archy works, and it doesn’t sit well with me.

“One can eas­ily say some­thing like street ha­rass­ment is just men be­ing silly, but that is pa­tri­archy at work be­cause it tells you that women are there to be sex­u­ally ob­jec­ti­fied at a man’s plea­sure. ”–

PHOTO: VATHISWA RUSELO

SO­CIAL JUS­TICE: Le­bo­hang Masango says pa­tri­archy marginalises women and is ap­par­ent in the ha­rass­ment of women on a daily ba­sis

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