Feminist Review: Issue 37 (Feminist Review Journal)
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At the same time, thousands and thousands of women, and some men, are testifying to their experiences of endemic sexual harassment at work and in public spaces online. Everyday sexism has been documented in minute detail and survivors — both well-known and not — have come forward to accuse perpetrators at the highest levels of society of unacceptable and violent behaviour.
Feminism, to put it bluntly, despite having been so powerful, sometimes seems to have achieved so little. There is so much complex work left to do. Here at Lancaster University, we have worked hard on achieving diversity amongst the keynote speakers for the EASST conference, but we have not audited sessions: does it matter if we have single-gender panels see allmalepanel? What does the spread of age and academic levels look like, and are we making space for scholars and ideas from the global South?
Will ethnic, sexual and other minorities feel safe at the conference? How might the way we all behave at the conference make some people feel less than welcome? Should we adjust our practices to help those who identify as neurodiverse, for example? We also need to think about the journals we edit and review for.
Whose work are we publishing and whose gets rejected in relation to feminist publishing, see Connell ; Roberts and Connell, ? Feminist technoscience studies FTS has a long and rich history of exploring sexism in science, medicine and technology design and use. We have, in my view, a huge amount of expertise, empirical, conceptual and methodological, to contribute to academic and political efforts to address sexism wherever it occurs.
Most significantly perhaps, FTS has clarified the ways in which non-human actors are enrolled in the networks of practices that materialise discrimination in all its forms. More specifically, there is huge scope for more FTS projects on the rise of social media politics both feminist and anti-feminist ; and on the multiple ways in which sexism remains entrenched in both public and private forms of work.
More broadly, STS has expertise to offer in the analysis of social media networks and internet materialities that are of great relevance to analysing Metoo and other hashtag and online campaigns. Current debates on sexual harassment bring up challenging questions about responsibility, aggression, sexuality, guilt and shame. There are strong debates in online and other media about the best ways to document and address experiences of violence, sexual abuse and harassment and about whether the Metoo movement ameliorates or exacerbates harm for individuals and for society more broadly.
Individual testimonies clearly help us know and demonstrate the multiplicity of harassment forms. Many commentators argue that the accumulation of such reports creates much-needed understanding of the patterning of abuse and harassment; that through collecting stories, we can come to know better who is more likely to suffer abuse within particular institutions such as universities and other work places. Online spaces facilitate rapid reactions and counter-reactions and can fuel aggressive backlash, in both individual and more organised forms.
STS has made serious contributions to knowledge in its focus on human-non-human relations, but typically this has been at the deliberate expense of paying attention to processes of subjectification and desire. Institutions, practices, materialities, policies, discourses are all hugely important in the production of sexism, but so are subjectivities and relations between people.
The Federation of South African Women and the ANC have tapped similar areas in the s, the United Democratic Front attempted to win over women through appeals to the defence of the family and of children in the s, and since the unbanning of the ANC in February a similar discourse has been evident Hassim, The dislocation of social relations as a result of the penetration of capitalist relations, migrancy and apartheid has been extensively covered. Against this, Inkatha has attempted to forge a cohesive identity, by drawing on a popular memory of the past.
This occurs in a context, in the s, in which political battles have torn apart communities and in which many people have expressed a feeling of political powerlessness.
The creation of a romanticized past, in which the emphasis is on harmonious interrelationships and in which Zulu warriors were seen as heroic and in political control, therefore has considerable appeal. This is no less important to younger members than to older women. People are westernized and they tend to look down on our traditions. Old women had no problem with the traditions—they joined in great numbers because they like keeping the traditions.
Even the ANC says we must go back to our roots. In the Youth Brigade, women have a voice. In the Youth Brigade we debate as comrades, not as females. However, for both young and old women, the idea of a historical continuity between the ANC and Inkatha is appealing. Buthelezi, in his speeches, constantly claims continuity between the Zulu warriors of the past such as Shaka and Cetshwayo, and himself, as well as between the Zulu kingdom and KwaZulu.
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This heroic and romantic construction of the past is not without parallels elsewhere in Africa, nor is it uncontested within South Africa. Inkatha describes ideology as one of ubuntu-botho, which is a philosophy of humanism which stems from a pre-colonial, pre-capitalist past. As Mdluli points out, the concept of ubuntu-botho is very broad and general and underlies all African societies.
It has the potential to be progressive in espousing a set of universal humanist principles.
Feminism, activism, writing! Introduction to the special section
This does not necessarily mean, of course, that families do not remain important sites of socialization. It does, however, imply an overt attempt by Inkatha to shape and control that socialization. In Book One of the syllabus, pupils are advised that In order that everything go accordingly at home, we the children must do everything that is required of us. Therefore, remember it is the father and the mother and all the other elders at home who have the authority to control family affairs Mdluli, This idea is extended in Book Two: In the family the man is the head. The woman knows that she is not equal to her husband.
Women refrain from exchanging words with men and if she does this reflects bad upbringing on her part Mdluli, This description is clearly not merely patriarchal, but allows no space, even within a patriarchal framework, for women to assert any control within the household. Indeed, it imposes informal but powerful sanctions against women doing this. At the same time, no allowance is made, even within this framework, for the vast number of households which are female headed and in which there can be no such clear gender division of roles.
It also contradicts the public stand taken by Buthelezi and the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly on the formal equality of men and women, and on the importance of women entrepreneurs Hassim, Inkatha claims that its notion of the family is based on a traditional Zulu model. Anthropological literature confirms the picture of Zulu homestead life as being patriarchal, in which major decisions were made by men with women and children subordinate Bryant, ; Krige, However, a closer and more critical examination of the texture of everyday life uncovers the hidden forms in which women were able to determine their lives.
More recent work done by anthropologists of Southern African societies suggests that a much more dynamic household structure actually existed.
In particular, attention has been focused on the influence that the wife was able to exert on decision-making in periods of conflict and dislocation when the young men, at least, were away Murray, ; Sharp and Spiegel, Even in terms of status and respect, Zulu social relations were never as rigid or clear-cut as the quotation from Book Two of the Inkatha syllabus claims. In practice this may only mean effectively that younger men have less status than older women.
It is nevertheless significant that not all women were subordinated to all men. Hlonipha applies to both men and women, but in practice affects women to a greater degree than men. In the case of men it applies between a man and his mother-inlaw, a man and his daughter-in-law and a man and the king or chief. A woman, however, is required to submit to the authority of her father-in-law and all his brothers, her elder brothers-in-law, her mother-in-law and all other wives of her father-in-law. Hlonipha defines not only her behaviour in the presence of these relatives she must cover her body, keep her eyes lowered, refrain from eating, etc.
A woman may not use the name of the…relatives-in-law nor any word containing the radical of such a name. Another word must be used instead, and so the speech of the woman differs considerably from that of the men Krige, The way in which the concept of hlonipha has been translated into political terms is clear.
The social hierarchy that is engendered by these forms of respect is replicated within Inkatha specifically, but also in KwaZulu generally, into political relationships. At the same time, the range of people to which respect is to be shown appears to have been narrowed, so that it resembles more closely relationships within a patriarchal nuclear family. This is an important and necessary equation: Buthelezi is able to legitimate his leadership on the basis that he has been given this role by history and tradition; he is able to maintain his support by assuming the status of pater familias.
This notion of family has a strong resonance for women who are concerned with the breakdown of social control generally and with the loss of parental control over their children in particular. Often, this perception is expressed not just in regard to children but also in regard to men. Criticism of men may be tempered by blaming the apartheid system for emasculating the black population, but is nevertheless given expression at annual conferences.
At the fifth annual conference in , for example, an important concern was the growing number of teenage pregnancies. This concern was linked to the issue of the high birth rate generally. Frequent pregnancies were regarded as harmful to women because it sapped their strength, but also because parents are not able to take care of their families adequately if their resources are spread over a number of children.
At the same time, blame for teenage pregnancies was laid at the door of men in general and mothers, rather than at young women. The following two resolutions illustrate this point. This conference despises these men who entice girls with money only to abuse them. Such men lower the dignity of men in our society by increasing the number of children who do not learn the value of the position of men as father in a home.
It is in this campaign that it has been able to extend its support among women.
Their concern to assert discipline within the family is therefore related to real experiences of survival in a harsh world. Women are not presented with the means of challenging the material bases of social problems. Reed ceremonies are held before the king, and centre around reed dances performed by young girls, who have to be virgins.
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The idea is that in preparing for the reed ceremonies, young girls will be forced to stay away from boys and their virginity will thereby be protected. The rigid notion of family also governs the way in which areas of power and mobilization are divided up within Inkatha. For example: God has given you the gift of intuition.
That special something that has caused so many quarrels between me and my wife in the 30 years we have been married Buthelezi, 8 October Like a father disciplining wayward children, the President of Inkatha sometimes has to resort to firm words to deal with recalcitrant members. They are defined primarily by the leadership in terms of their relationship to others. It is as mothers whether potential, of children or of the nation and as wives and daughters that they are addressed. My sisters, you are mothers in suffering humanity. Some of you are wives in an oppressed society and some of you are daughters in our oppressed society, and the full brunt of apartheid is borne by you more than by any other Blacks…when others were quaking with fear, when others were intimidated, it was you who came to respond to the clarion call of Inkatha.
It was you, mothers, daughters, sisters and wives, who stood up to be counted. It is you who gave such a vast revival to that deep spirit of commitment which had so distinguishedly characterised the old ANC… you as the mothers of the nation, you the women of Inkatha, have a sacred duty to discharge. Be strong for the sake of your children, your fathers, your mothers and your husbands. Be strong for the sake of the nation.