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Read Karina Szczurek’s review of Feminism Is

“Sometimes painfully relatable, other times outrageously hilarious, every page is sprinkled with vulnerability.” – Lovelyn Nwadeyi

 

“Fierce, incisive, compassionate and thoughtful. This is an essential collection of diverse voices.” – Lauren Beukes

 
A collection of fresh, contemporary feminist writing from South Africans.

Feminism Is
In an accessible and engaging way, the book delves into what feminism means in South Africa today.

It explore feminist inspiration, feminist anger, inclusions and exclusions, inter-generational issues, and the varied ways to engage in feminist practice. This collection will inspire, inform and stimulate, and it will reaffirm the importance of feminism in South Africa.

Jen Thorpe is a feminist writer and researcher based in Cape Town. Her first novel, The Peculiars (2016), was long-listed for the Etisalat Prize and the Sunday Times Fiction Prize. She has published poetry, flash fiction, and short stories on many platforms including Aerodrome and BooksLive. For more information visit http://jen-thorpe.com.

Karina Szczurek recently reviewed this remarkable body of work for LitNet; read an extract here:

“Feminism is love, transforming.” – Vuyiseka Dubula

I have been meaning to get this off my chest – literally and figuratively – for many years: They did not burn their bras! At least, not in 1969 when a demonstration against the Miss America beauty pageant took place in Atlantic City. A journalist for the Post, Lindsy Van Gelder, writing about the event, “coined the phrase ‘bra burning’ to describe a feminist protest in which pointy padded bras, restrictive girdles and other symbols of enforced femininity were going to be tossed in a bonfire outside the Miss America pageant. The Atlantic City fire chief later refused to give the demonstrators a permit, and so the Great Undies Immolation never happened … but the phrase stuck” (states Van Gelder, writing on her homepage: http://lindsyvangelder.com/about). A myth about feminists was born. Even today, many people use the fictitious bra-burning incident of 1969 to patronise and distance themselves from feminism and all who embrace it as a way of life. The misconceptions about feminism abound. Thus it is heartening to read a collection of essays written by South African feminists about what feminism means to them.

The idea for Feminism is: South Africans speak their truth was born at the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September 2016. The book’s editor, Jen Thorpe, attended the remarkable event “Talking feminism”, chaired by Mohale Mashigo and featuring Yewande Omotoso, Pumla Dineo Gqola, and Nnedi Okorafor. If you weren’t in the audience, do yourself a favour and watch it here:

Thorpe was encouraged to put out a call for essays. A dialogue began; a process of sharing and understanding followed. “Feminism is about the will to engage,” Anja Venter states in her contribution to the book. The call itself had to be modified when it reached B Camminga, the contributor of one of the most inspiring pieces of the collection. “I am a trans person. I am also a feminist,” Camminga writes, steering us away from the “damaging” and “futile dichotomy” of seeing gender in binary terms. Camminga felt excluded by Thorpe’s initial call for essays, as it addressed only woman feminists, instead of opening up the category of “feminist” to non-binary and trans people. To Thorpe’s credit, she re-examined her position and reworded her intentions as the final introduction to the book shows (apart from the one slip-up I will return to later). Instead of the binary pronouns “he”/“she”, “his”/“her”, etc, Camminga uses “they” and “their” with which to identify. Camminga’s contribution to the collection includes the correspondence they had with the editor about the challenge of being sensitive and inclusive towards people who do not identify as either male or female. They make us aware that the binary way of seeing gender must become a thing of the past, because it is sexist and exploitative. “[W]e are faced with a challenge of how to reshape and reform our social and political worlds so people like me can also write here [in the anthology] … Feminism, for me – and again drawing from bell hooks – is at its core about ending sexism in all forms, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” Anything else misses the point.

Continue reading Karina’s review here.

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