Archive for May, 2010


Feminist Africa is a continental gender studies journal produced by the community of feminist scholars. It provides a platform for intellectual and activist research, dialogue and strategy. Feminist Africa attends to the complex and diverse dynamics of creativity and resistance that have emerged in postcolonial Africa, and the manner in which these are shaped by the shifting global geopolitical configurations of power.

It is currently based at the African Gender Institute in Cape Town.

Editorial policy

Feminist Africa is guided by a profound commitment to transforming gender hierarchies in Africa, and seeks to redress injustice and inequality in its content and design, and its open-access and continentally-targeted distribution strategy. Feminist Africa targets gender researchers, students, educators, women’s organisations and feminist activists throughout Africa. It works to develop a feminist intellectual community by promoting and enhancing African women’s intellectual work. To overcome the access and distribution challenges facing conventional academic publications, Feminist Africa deploys a dual dissemination strategy, using the Internet as a key tool for knowledge-sharing and communication, while making hard copies available to those based at African institutions.

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–we are women” : an article by amanda kijera.

The United Nations, western women’s organizations and the Haitian government must immediately provide women in Haiti with the funding that they need to build domestic violence and rape crisis centers. Stop dividing Black families by distributing solely to women, which only exaggerates male resentment and frustration in Haiti. Provide both women and men with job training programs that would allow for self-sufficiency as opposed to continued dependency on whites. Lastly, admit that the issue of racial integration might still need addressing on an international level, and then find a way to address it!

so i have a special research interest in haiti, in case y’all didn’t already know. i found this article to be really engaging, stupendously interesting. i feel so confused by this! i feel confused by one of the responses to the above:

How is it possible, after being the victim of a brutal rape, to absolve the perpetrator of guilt and point the finger at men of another color who are nowhere near one’s body? This projection is absolutely stunning and self-defeating.

The man who committed this crime committed it for his reason and his alone. Without holding him to account, what hope of change is there? If a person cannot own his behavior, he cannot change it.

This sort of rationalization would absolve white slave owners, by the way. They were simply victims of cultural thinking at the time. And the patriarchy? A remnant of twisted religious extremism.

No one would be responsible for any action at any time, anywhere. There is, after all, a context for every crime.

At the root of this absolution is a desire to push personal responsibility on the collective. Unfortunately, the collective was not in that room that night. One man raped one woman.

oh dear. what now? what is this now. why am i so confused? can anyone please tell me what is going on, and who should do what, and why? and how this fits into all of it?

Melissa’s words are so incredibly powerful, and I can’t make that point any better than she can. This is not about the “global hierarchy”. Every person has control over their actions. Amanda’s rapist is no different. Her response is astounding to most – how could she possibly blame the status of the black man in the world society for this? How was the man that beat her and abused her not at fault? We’re right to question that.

oh, i miss Bq, i want Bq to tell me how to think about this real bad!

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The theme for this Sex Ed class shifted from the “You’re going to be a fat, knocked up 15-year-old with visible, terminal lesions all over your nether-regions’ to ‘You’re going to go away to college, be sexually assaulted by a masked assailant who will never be caught, and subsequently be left for dead in a trash-filled alley.” (There was, of course, another variation, in which the aforementioned masked assailant was replaced by the captain of the football team and “left for dead in a trash filled alley” was swapped out with: “And there’s no use reporting it because no one will believe you, and it will only serve to further ostracize you from your peers.”

it is weird to me that sex is something you’d need education for! however, i feel like the way contemporary american society views sex, female-bodied people having hetero sex need to know what is what, like a lot.

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Irene actually spotted this on my computer before I did: How Do You know You’re Not Transgender?

I think it’s a pretty interesting question, one that I’ve been grappling with a lot after hearing Irene’s awesome thesis presentation. And the answers proved to bring on only more questions which I’d love to hear your thoughts on. Also a brief disclaimer: I think for me it’s difficult to ask these questions and keep my cisgendered privilege in check, so with that I suppose bare with me and call me out when I’m wrong, and trust I’m interested in making it right:

A lot of the answers in the feministing article I read were things like “I know I’m cisgendered because I’m so femme” Which gets me thinking a lot about gender. Is gender about femme vs masculine identities? I am female sexed according to doctors and I’m comfortable with the parts I’ve been given, but am I femme? I’m not butch or masculine, people certainly read me as a woman. But If I was sexed male, I don’t think people would still read me as femme, minus a heart necklace and the occasional skirt (although even the skirts are a recent thing for me). I feel if I were sexed male, people wouldn’t necessarily pick up on a feminine identity. I like getting into arguments, I have a low voice, I wear a lot of sweatshirts and jeans, I have great spacial relations. Even as I list these somewhat masculine qualities, I wonder what is really a masculine quality. I feel lost in trying to figure out what is what. This whole gender game feels pretty fuzzy to me.

There was a time when gender was no so fuzzy to me. When I was younger (maybe 7 years old?) I remember having this moment in realizing I wasn’t fitting in and attributed it to not dressing femme enough. I decided the main culprit was the fact that my hair wasn’t long enough for a pony tail which for some reason I read as the ultimate in female presentation. I remember coming back from a hair cut, looking in the mirror crying. When my mom asked me what was wrong I told her I looked like a boy with short hair, she tried to reassure me I looked like a girl. But I didn’t, at least I didn’t look like all the perfect girls with the straight blonde hair, and skinny bodies who ran in dresses on the playground.

I’m left wondering pretty seriously what is femme? What once seemed so clear to me as a kid is so confusing to me now. If I may, let’s talk about my mom, my favorite female role model of course. She’s female sexed, she reads as a woman. But I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen her wear a dress. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her in heels. For as long as I can remember she’s had short hair. But she does wear make up, listen to Barbara Streisand, Bette Midler, and Carol King, and I’ve seen so many lifetime movies with her I can’t give an accurate estimate.

What makes her femme? What would it take to push her to a different category? And would it matter? Is femme/masculine identity inherently connected to personality? How/ How not?

And how is this all related to a feminist identity? What aspects of myself are femme? What are masculine? Isn’t it anti-feminist to call my spacial relations a masculine trait? Is it limiting to suggest that a heart necklace is feminine to all the butch/masculine folks out there who like hearts?

I don’t think I am transgendered, but I also don’t think it’s such an easy answer. Sometimes I think I might have a more femme self which for body size/confidence issues I haven’t always felt comfortable with (I imagine most people have felt similarly perhaps for other reasons race/ability/etc). I think I’ll always feel like a woman, but I’ve had moments when I’ve felt less than–times when I couldn’t find the gendered clothes to reflect who I am in my size, or I felt like even in the right clothes I was just pretending–that everyone knew I wasn’t really a pretty girl in a dress, that the real munzi was something less femme, less pretty, more practical somehow. Gender expression confuses me to no end. I don’t feel like a man, but I don’t completely know if I understand what it means to feel like a woman or why I might feel like that on somedays and other days feel less so. I think I just feel like munzi, and that’s all I got for now.

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