My Feminism Looks Like... Dineo Tsamela

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I hoard stationery (please keep me away from Moleskine anything), books are my love language and a very guilty pleasure. I love being on radio (one day someone will spot me) and I want to learn how to fly a plane (a tiny Cessna will do). I’m a recovered debtaholic and rather proud that I am completely debt free. I’m slightly fascinated by Germany. I’m still not quite sure I’ve figured my life out, but I’m happy. I’m perpetually puppy broody.

2. What would you recommend a young feminist does?

Don’t get into the ‘you didn’t study gender ergo your views on feminism are invalid/my understanding of feminism surpasses yours’ school of thought. I’ve seen way too many people use this line when debating feminist issues or concepts and it’s rather saddening. Feminist is intersectional, that means classism is an issue we need to always be cognizant of whenever you debate ‘feminism’. It’s not just for the educated, and when applied to the African context, you can see how villages and communities are built on feminist concepts without the label or an active movement. Feminism is for everyone, don’t shut people out.

3. Are you an intersectional feminist?

I try to be, and I say ‘try’ because I’ve been faced with forms of oppression that I unknowingly participated in. I have had to unlearn my responses and ideas about them, and that process takes time, especially when your old views are pretty strong (and wrong). Intersectionality is necessary within the feminist movement and no one is above it. It’s important to constantly review one’s outlook as the movement evolves and addresses and incorporates more forms of oppression, while always deciphering and applying these concepts within the African context. Context informs the shape and direction a movement takes and how we combat the issues that crop up as a result.

4. What’s your take on sex positivity?

Everyone should read The Ethical Slut. It’s aligned to my views on sex positivity and sexual conduct. A lot of people are confused about what sex positivity is, how we all apply it to our lives will differ from person to person. Maintaining an open mind about gender (/roles), sexuality and the act of having sex is the cornerstone of sex positivity. I believe in sexual autonomy. Sex positivity can be very complex to navigate when expectations from friends, family and society differ from your views. I don’t subscribe to the idea that monogamy is for everyone. This view is difficult to present to my (very Zulu) family, even feminist friends who might not grasp this concept entirely. I believe that your body should abide by your rules; be aware of how your actions affect the people you’re intimate with. Keep it sane (another dodgy one to define), stay safe (for your own good and the people you love), and don’t forget consent (which you’ll need to unpack very carefully with your partner/s so that everyone is on the same page).

5. How do you usually respond when people ask why feminists are so angry?

I chuckle. I don’t see how racial oppression (or any other form of oppression, really) was overcome with a smile and decorum. Yet, by virtue of me being a woman, I’m expected to be polite about how I want to be treated. When people shut us down, we’re supposed to be graceful about it.

That struggle is compounded for black women because our oppression is two-fold (at face value); standing our ground and demanding to be heard, be visible, is not unreasonable. I don’t like having to justify my place, my voice and existence here, yet almost every day I’m forced to do so. So, yes, you really can’t blame feminists for being angry. It’s the same reason the #BlackLivesMatter movement is angry: SEE US, recognise our humanity. We matter. (Side note: I generally don’t like responding to people who ask questions like that because more often than not, their main aim is to rile you up so for their amusement.)

6. How important is self-care to you? What does it involve for you?

Very important, necessary. We take on all the issues surrounding us: family, society, work, structural forms of oppression (women’s right, black lives, black trans rights, homosexuality, hypermasculinity and how it hurts men, etc). Trying to engage all these challenges can be overwhelming. We juggle all these problems with our internal battles relating to our self esteem and how we perceive ourselves and the role we play in our world and psychological challenges. We’re fighting many battles, all at once. It’s OK to place our needs first, be selfish with our energy. Self care is a must: switching off, minding my spirit, cultivating self-love and self-acceptance and grounding myself.

A self care session includes candles, sage, meditation, a good chat to my Guide(s)/Source/the Universe/Me and sitting with my journal. I try my best to write something in any one of my journals before I sleep (I did say I’m a stationery hoarder). Reflecting on important exchanges I had during the day (‘important’ could be a short conversation with a complete stranger that shifted a perspective). Were there eureka moments? What made me happy? What upset me? Dealing with my own emotions and figuring out what they indicate as well. I try to go to bed having sorted out things that have messed with my ‘vibe’ so that I don’t wake up with a heavy heart.

7. Which black woman would you love to be for a day, just for the experience?

I’d like to be 40 year-old me for a day. I have a lot to learn between now and then, and a little insight into the person I’m becoming would be fascinating. I also have important questions for future me.

8. If you had to spend your life doing a job that advances feminism what would it be?

I’ve always wanted to be a (co)founder of an investment company that caters specifically for women and/or a women’s bank. I think women’s financial/economic inclusion is a big deal and believe that if more women were active in the economy (and in turn, were able to send more girls to school) it would do Africa a world of good. The institution would centre oncreating a network to facilitate trade for women who either want to start their own businesses, find a job or whatever else is necessary, and beneficiaries would be obliged to ‘pay it forward’ to the next woman. Women empowering other women is important, it is necessary – especially in Africa.

I feel like a lot of the conversations we have tend to exclude wealth and wealth creation (and not in the ‘make it rain’ sense). Financial wellness should be a large part of all the discussions we have around ‘transformation’ and equality. Responsible financial planning in necessary for us to break out of negative financial cycles.

9. Something you adore about you woman you are?

I’ve finally come into my own. I’m self-assured, living my truth and I’m unapologetic about it. I know that I can’t be all things to all people, and I’ve accepted that – it’s liberating. Being able to filter out certain things that don’t serve me is important. The moment you embark on new experiences and learn new things, the people you encounter might project their expectations of you onto you. I know who I am and I stand by my truth, but I also understand that I’m evolving; that who I am today isn’t necessarily who I’ll be a month from now so I’m not overly attached to anything in my current experience. I also love (pretty much) every aspect of my life right now and where it’s headed. It’s exciting.

10. How do you deal with women who speak out against feminism?

I choose not to because it can drive you insane! The most I can do is speak about the movement, share what I know and understand. Anyone who is interested in constructive engagement, I will gladly entertain. What I will not do is try and convince a grown-ass woman to ‘convert’ to feminism. You’re an adult: put your preconceived ideas aside, learn, ponder and draw your own conclusions.

I’ve honestly adored Dineo since I joined Twitter and stay creeping on her. I doubt she knew before now but yeah. And one of her favourite books is one of mine. So. Brilliant, nje <3*Tucks stanship back in*

She tweets here

My Feminism Looks Like... Black Porcelain

1. Can you tell me a bit about yourself?

I am a storyteller. Music is one of my voices. Not sure whether that is interesting or in-depth enough. Born in Soweto, middle child with 2 brothers and now marooned in Cape Town (don’t tell me it’s not an island).

2. When did you first identify as a feminist?

I like to think that I have always been a feminist. I was always aware of the differences in the way myparents raised me and my brothers. The inequality has always been apparent to me, even as a child. It was only when I started reading about feminism (in my teens) that I knew the word for what I have always been.Feminism also made me less angry at my parents for raising me differently from mybrothers. It made me realise that this wasn’t something in my family, school or community etc.

3. What do you think first when people say Feminism is an Western idea?

This is funny. I usually tell people that equality is not a western idea. Not at all. Ha ha ha ha ha.

4. What’s your take on people who identify as Feminist allies?

The most important part of being an ally is listening. Listen. You can never listen too much. If you’re an ally with a platform, give the stage to people of the community you support. I do believe that the work of allies lies mainly in educating people in their own communities. If you’re a white person against racism, try to educate other white people etc. Always take your cue from the people you support. Let them tell you how you can be a better ally.

5. What is something you wish you were told as a little girl?

I wish I had been told that it is okay not to be a happy all the time. Little girls get told to smile way too often. It makes us deaf to our inner dialogue and emotions. In high school I smiled through an emotional breakdown. It wasn’t until the family GP told my parents about my panic attacks that they knew how I was feeling. I tell little girls all the time “you don’t have to smile if you don’t want to.”

6. What’s your favourite memory including Black women?

My mom and her friends would get together once a month at someone’s house. A friend would host them and they would just sit around and laugh. I remember one particular get together (don’t know how old I was). I was sitting in the corner just watching all these beautiful black women laughing. It was a diverse group of women. Red lips, bare faces, beautiful dresses and “at home” outfits. Some were smokers, others were smokin’ hot, beer was flowing, so was the tea and they just laughed all afternoon. Ma was immersed in her own world of gossip, loud laughter, perfume and sisterhood. It was beautiful to watch.

7. What are you thoughts on body shaming?

I think we body shame ourselves way before we start doing it to to other people. What with images of “perfect bodies” on billboards, TV, magazines etc, being thrown at us from a young age. Companies want to sell all kinds of things to “fix” what ain’t broke. There is more body shaming in media than we are aware of. It is subtle though “whiten your teeth” and “make your underarms lighter” etc. Why would we need any of that stuff if having slightly off colour teeth and underarms wasn’t ‘shameful’? Lots of companies make BILLIONS from subtle body shaming.

8. How important is self care to you?

Self care is something I wasn’t very good at, as a people-pleaser who believed that others came before me (messed up definition of love). Lately I unplug and make myself unavailable. That means staying home with chocolate cake/ribs/wine and books. Switching off my phone is an essential part of self care as well. Self care days are great but I also try to do small things for myself everyday; drink water, put on sunscreen, give myself (at least) 30 minutes of quiet before bed and not allowing energy thieves take up my time.

9. What’s your favourite book by Black woman author?

I have many but the one that always stands out is Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga. It was a high school setwork and before that I had never read a full novel just about African people. When I was little my brother would bring some books from school (written in Setswana) but they were very short. I was in high school and that book made quite an impression on me. I suddenly saw myself in fiction. Before that my friends and I would write Sweet Valley High fan fiction but it often came off as “fake” because that world was so far away from ours. After reading Nervous Conditions I started writing my own little novellas about things in my life. Tsitsi Dangarembga gave me the nerve to right honestly. Before then I had never thought of it (weird right?)

10. Is your country be open to a feminist political party?

No. Not for a long time. My country is beautiful in many ways. It is also ugly to women, in ways that break my heart (daily).

Miss Blck Porcelain is a beautiful singer, soon to be author and she deserves all the swoons. Stal- appreciate her here:

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My Feminism Looks Like... Damilola Williams

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

20, International development undergraduate & passionate about greater income equality. I’m also unable to keep my mouth shut in the face of injustice. I think it might be a personality flaw or something. I’m socialist, which means my world view is that injustices, (e.g. patriarchy, racism, structural poverty) occur due to economic inequality. Money is power, I think. Women and people of colour have a lot less power than others, and so those that do have power subconsciously oppress them. Basically I believe legal, political, social, and cultural equality can only be achieved after we gain a significant amount of economic power.

2. How did you discover feminism?

I grew up in a home where my mother constantly talked about the unfair plight the women she worked with faced in life. She would tell me about the burdens society placed on women, and how women’s work was often under appreciated and thought of as ‘other’ from a very young age. Growing up, I saw the things she spoke about all around me. She constantly ranted about many feminist talking points without using the words feminism, misogyny or patriarchy. My mother is one of the staunchest feminists/ advocates for women’s rights I know, yet she refuses to identify as feminist (but we’ll come back to that).

 

3. What do you say to people who attempt to undermine feminism with, “but THESE women suffer more”?

Something like “so because black people are being killed in the US we should not speak out for the black people that are being stolen from in Ghana? Or if your father has his identity stolen he won’t go to court because other people going to court have been tortured?”

 4. What would you recommend a young feminist does?

When people say sexist things, speak up! Even if it’s your dad/mum, or husband’s dad/mum. Don’t stress too much about being liked/hated, stick to what you believe in. I also think people only get what they think deserve in regards to romance and relationships. I think a lot of women don’t believe they deserve certain things due to patriarchal socialization. And then we mistake a long list of men behaving in a certain way for natural or biological behavior. Basically, don’t let anyone tell you your feminist dream won’t happen because it goes against biology or something.

 5. What is your take on pornography?

I believe it should not be illegal, it should be regulated and the safety of workers and equality / autonomy in the work place should be guaranteed as in any other industry. Also have issues with the fact that due to such a high imbalance between male economic power and female economic power, women are often found catering to male desires, and female desires are left stored in a box labeled “unrealistic” or in the case of pornography, “unlucrative”.

However, I’m no expert on sexuality so I feel I am in no position to encourage or discourage pornography from a moral standing point. It’s like feminism 101 not to judge women based on patriarchal values, so don’t think for one second that I don’t think that women should be empowered rather than slut-shamed by their sexuality! My issue with trading sex for money is not even religion based. I just wonder if it isn’t kind of creepy but no one has found out yet. Like how 13 year olds used to get married in the old days…

 

 6. How do you usually respond when people ask why feminists are so angry?

We have a lot to be angry about.

 7. What’s your favourite myth to laugh at that centers feminists?

“There are no pretty feminists” or “Feminists just want a boyfriend/husband/sex.”

LIFE DOES NOT REVOLVE AROUND THOSE THINGS. ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU’RE CONCERNED WITH THE SUFFERING & INJUSTICES OTHER HUMAN BEINGS HAVE TO FACE.

8. If you were to write a book, what would it be about?

An adventurous power struggle of some kind.

 9. Who is one Black woman you’d love to spend a day with?

Assata Shakur! Is there a way to make this happen?

10. Thoughts on transphobia?

I think it’s unfortunate that we have to live in a world where this is even a thing. Gender is not, and has never been, binary. Loads of men are feminine and loads of women are masculine, this is a natural thing. People should be able to dress how they want and act how they want and be who they want to be. Judging someone based on your limited understanding of who they should be is stupid.

11. How do you deal with women who speak out against feminism?

Well (if I have time – which is never, I never have time to invest emotional energy into people), I talk them through the basics like women who had to fight to have the right to own property, to divorce and to have an education. Now we have to fight for different rights. For the right to have cultural equality i.e. for my job to be seen to be as important as my husbands job, for the right not to be slut shamed as we express our sexuality, for the right to have my spouse clean up the house as much as I do, and for the right to be listened to, and thought of as a rational human being.

Of course you have the faux biologers who say, “but women ARE more emotional” and, “men’s jobs have to come first because we bear children and so should not inherently be career driven. Our careers are just a plus” or, “a key that opens many locks is preferred, while a padlock that is opened by many keys is worthless” – to which I lazily respond, “maybe you, but not me”. I don’t know, I just find it harder to say “I think you’ve been brainwashed by society into thinking less of yourself.”

Damilola tweets over here.

And Tumbls over here <3

My Feminism Looks Like Lineo Mabulu

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

My name is Lineo (said: Dee-neh-oh). I’m a 20 year old varsity student, professional procrastinator, introspective introvert and a living water feature (I cry a lot). I love cupcakes, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Melissa Harris-Perry’s lisp. I have awesome nails, and people on Twitter say I’m witty. ;-)

2. Who’s your favourite feminist?

I have two and I can’t pick one; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Nthabiseng Nooe.

3. When did you first identify as a feminist?

About a year ago *hides*

4. Are you an intersectional feminist?

I don’t think you’re doing it right if you aren’t one, so I’d like to think that I am. If I’m not, then it’s definitely a goal of mine.

5. If you were to write a book, what would it be about?

It would probably be a children’s book aimed at encouraging black girls to love themselves.

6. What’s something you wish you were told as a young girl?

That I’m enough for myself. That through changes, mistakes, and life really – I’m enough.

7. How did you “discover” feminism?

Through twitter *chuckles*. I remember there was a discussion on black hair in predominantly white schools. I immediately identified with the grievances people had put forward, and that’s kind of what opened the door for me.

8. Free-write, tell me your general thoughts and feelings on feminism…

Feminism is starting to feel like a home, and like a home I need to look after it and improve it where necessary. I also need to make it accommodating (in order to learn from people, and them from me), but make sure it reflects who I am in the best possible way. It can be my source of comfort, or the place within which I face my greatest challenges, where I’ll experience love, and where others can do the same.

9. What do you do to heal?

I allow myself to feel whatever I’m feeling, cry and vent (by writing or speaking to my friends) for as long as I need to and/or for as long as time allows.

10. What’s a challenge you see Black girls are having to overcome recently?

It’s not a recent problem, but the fact that that many black girls miss school during their period because they can’t afford feminine hygiene products is something that’s been on my mind lately. Not to mention the possibly debilitating menstrual cramps. Being denied opportunities for personal growth because of biology? That’s fucked up.

Catch some of Lineo’s shade here.

My Feminism Looks Like Lerato Motaung

1. How would you describe your political beliefs?

Reckless. Evolving. Contradictory, sometimes, but with one goal in mind. My politics are, in a lot of ways, a reflection of my personal journey through this life. In short, a lot of like my life, a beautiful and entertaining mess.

2. Can you tell me what your experience of being a black woman is and includes? What do you love? What do you hate?

I’m going to be cheesy here, but my experiences are best encapsulated by Ntozake’s words. “Being alive, being a woman, being colored is a metaphysical dilemma I have not conquered yet.”

Ntozake beautifully captures the complex and often tragic nature of the black skin in modern society and the inherent difficulty of trying to navigate something as vague as the black skin, especially when it finds its expression through the female body. My experience of this black female body is, on the one hand, an experience of restriction and regulation and on the other hand, strength. I’m living out a paradox I didn’t invent, but I’m forced to fight through and make sense of, everyday. I love the body my soul chose to occupy. What it represents. There is a history being lived out by this body. I just haven’t named it yet.

3. What’s something you wish you were told as a young girl?

That my rage matters. That it’s worth a whole lot in a world that’s constantly trying to dictate how your existence should present itself in its eyes.

4. Who’d make a brilliant president in your country?

Ngaphandle kwami…? I’m not joking though.

5. Free-write, tell me your general thoughts and feelings on feminism…

Feminism, for me, is a fight for my life. It’s daring to live in this world without apology or shame. In short, feminism is my claim to life. Whether the world agrees or not. It’s my language for survival.

6. What’s a challenge you see Black girls are having to overcome recently?

Being fed false beliefs about their silence; about their existence and how they should exist in this world. Being told that their strength lies in enduring bullshit, rather than fighting back. I honestly feel like black girls should be fed fire with their breakfast every morning. Black girls are brought up in a world that is consistently and conspicuously at odds with their existence. They are brought up in a world that negates and erases images of anything that looks and sounds like them, at every turn. They are both seen and unseen, much like God. Except, unlike God, no one is taking up arms in their name. If they are not being silenced, they are being spoken for or about. They are given voices that are not their own, a language that is not their own. They’re being indoctrinated with self-hatred long before they can even conceive of the self. They are burdened with history, but are expected to thrive nonetheless.

7. How important is self-care to you? What does it involve for you?

Very important. I’m slowly and painfully learning this. Usually solitude, music, books and a dash of silence. Silence is healing when it’s not being used against you. That is, when you’re not being silenced.

8. What do you do to heal?

I fall apart. As strange as that may sound.

9. What’s your favourite book by a black woman author?

Without a doubt, Sula by Toni Morrison.

10. What words do you use most often to describe yourself?

Everything. I am everything. Good and bad. It’s these parts of myself that I often try to balance. I think that I should highlight that during that everything, there is a great big dollop of adorable. My bark is worse than my bite, but if I’m forced to bite, best believe that I’m not walking away without a limb. Otherwise, I’m a tame somebody.

Lerato tweets over here <3

My Feminism Looks Like Tiffany Kagure Mugo

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

We live in a world where you have to wear many hats to keep your head warm I am a media consultant specializing in working with NGOs dealing with socio-political and human rights, I write about sex and sexuality, politics and for I also curate HOLAAfrica! a pan Africanist womanist collective that deals with African women’s sexuality.

I am a lover of literature and good wine and of course my amazing partner. I love having people around, until I don’t then I crave being alone.

2.What do you have to tell men who’d like be feminist “allies”?

Do it! The matters concerning feminism and gender do not just suffocate us they affect you too. But the key is not to come in and decide to take over the space. Listening is key, understanding is key and realizing that there will be times when the conversation is fully about us, as women is important. Because sometimes it is just about us. Also understanding it is not about coming into the feminist space and teaching women how to empower themselves, or trying to speak on their behalf. It is about learning from a space and going and teaching what you have learned to those male buddies of yours with the funny ideas over a few beers/coffees/squeezed juices.

3. Do you have a favourite non-problematic Black man?

Other than the amazing men in my family (who admittedly are somewhat problematic) I am a huge fan of Kopano Ratele a lecturer and academic at UNISA who works with men on issues of gender and sexuality. He also engages a great deal in matters of sexuality in general including LGBTIQ issues having even written on African Queer Women and Tradition. He has an amazing blog called New African Men.

4. If you could fill up your day with things you love to do, what would they do?

I would read. Read everything and anything. Online articles, journal articles, books, anything. I love to read. I would also fill the time with movies, the cinema is addictive. I would fill it with tales of the lives of those I love and friend. Maybe even a stranger or two. I would fill it with curating the lives of African women on continent throughHOLAA!.

Basically I would fill my time with stories and the whole experience would float along on a sea of Chardonnay.

5. Are you an intersectional feminist?

I am as my lived experience has meant that I have to be. I have found that often women’s movements have been divisive with some ‘female identities’ seemingly being more important than others. Being an African bisexual woman has meant that I am confronted with aspects of own identity that can be condemned, silenced and ignored in some cases. As an African woman there is the battle to be heard internationally, as a bisexual woman some women’s spaces within the continent seek to silence and as a woman there is just the patriarchal struggle bus. My lived experience has made me realize how different facets of existence do not exist in isolation no matter how much we try and compartmentalize.

This has meant that I have had to think about what it means for all facets of ones identity to come into play in a given space.

6. What’s your take on sex positivity?

The most epic notion ever! Coming from a background where sex and sexuality are so taboo they are barely spoken of at a bachelorette party but living in a world where sexual violence is rife

There is also the fact that sex positivity is so delicious. Absolutely delicious, with the potential to be as fun as it is powerful. I am so about that life I even have a plan to one day open up a burlesque club that has women being able to perform and show of their sexuality.

7. What’s your least favourite thing about feminism?

The sense of sisterhood and the ability to come together. Yes, sometimes feminists can fight like a bunch of cats in a sack but when it comes time to come together it is the most beautiful thing to see. There is a power in the love and the strength that comes from coming together.

8. Can you tell me what your experience of being a black woman is and includes? What do you love? What do you hate?

In terms of being a black woman I love the fact that being a fighter is almost a given. That there is a certain amount of expectation that there will be some sense of scrap in me. I love the idea that I have a limitless capacity to love, laugh and handle pain. I love that these are traits attributed to us as black women. I also love the fact that we have so much to overcome and continue to try and do this

What I hate about being a black woman, the fact that I must be apologetic about it. The fact that I must battle to love myself and doing it is not a given but an accomplishment.

9. How important is self-care to you? What does it involve for you?

So important. The older you get the quicker you realize that there are a lot of things that are trying to tear you down. When you are broken and run down you will not be able to do any of the things you want to or are meant to do in life, if you are running on empty you cannot get very far. You have to realize being a martyr for one’s existence means that you only half live and thus half accomplish.

10. Thoughts on body-shaming?

Body shaming is whack, not matter which way it goes. People often think that body shaming only happens to bigger women but it is any and all instances where women’s bodies are policed. Body shaming is a way of causing us to ever strive for some form of perfection because no matter how far you go you will find another policeman of perfection pulling you over and calling you out for not being thin enough, thick enough, having big enough boobs, small enough thighs. Give you trouble over something and anything . And with the rise of the interwebs and social media it has become even easier to throw shade on a monumental shade.

Body shaming is hard to escape but the heavens knows we need to at least try.

Tiffany is all over the social media streets, so follow and engage her:

Twitter: @tiffmugo and @HOLAAfrica

Facebook: HOLAAfrica

Blog: holaafrica.org

My Feminism Looks Like… Simphiwe Dana

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself? 

I’m a village girl turned techno-age, high flying super everything I was told I would never be. Including supermom.

2. What do you have to tell men who’d like be feminist “allies”?

As a feminist ally you must lead from the back. And don’t ever think it’s your struggle, if you do, you’ll surely get it wrong. Your responsibility as an ally is to convert your kind (pardon the word), not to tell women how to feminism.

3. What does feminism mean to you as an African woman?

As an African woman I am doubly oppressed by patriarchy, more than my global counterparts. Because patriarchy has been concretised into culture and tradition. So my struggle for freedom is seen as a betrayal on two levels.

  1.  As a black woman I’m supposed to worry about the freedom of blackness before gender politics. Otherwise my black brothers and sisters (go figure) dismiss my struggle credentials.
  2. As an African woman I’m supposed to adhere to culture/tradition, if I do not, I then do not deserve respect. I am whitewashed by europolitics. And I have turned my back on my Africanness. Africanness right now is so fragile, it’s holding on to everything, good and bad.

4. How do you answer people when they say feminism is a Western idea?

This is a hard one because simply put, they’re saying freedom is for white people. I don’t know about that. But then again patriarchy doesn’t see itself as oppressive. So I really have no business explaining myself to patriarchy. You will respect me, qha. Same way I will not coddle racism. You will respect me, and if you need to know why, open a book, google, just educate yourself.

5. Who’s your favourite feminist?

Lebohang Pheko is my fave feminist.

6. When did you first identify as a feminist?

It must have been around 2013. I was always scared to call myself one even thought I strongly felt I was a feminist. There was just too much negativity around the word. Some people even call feminism evil. So I called myself a soft feminist for a while. Just to take the sting out for those who might feel aggrieved by me calling myself that. Apparently the idea of a free woman is sacrilegious to the patriarchy gods.

7. What do you say to people who attempt to undermine feminism with, “but THESE women suffer more”? 

I see right through their insincerity. They do not care for feminism, they only live to discredit it.

8. How do you answer people who question the importance and/or validity of feminism?

I feel sorry for any woman who questions and dismisses feminism. Not the ones who might wanna use a different word for the same concept (ie. womanism). But those who actually question why women should be free. Or those who don’t see how women are not free.

9. What’s one thing you do to bring feminism to more young girls?

I’m mother to a young girl who questions a lot. I have taught her to stand up for herself. To respect all people. To never see herself as less. And to never ever use gendered slurs to insult others. I have gotten rid of any social conditioning in my home. My son is not the man of the house. My daughter is not the cleaner of the house. Her friends are always grateful for all these lessons when they come over.

10. What’s your take on White Feminism?

White feminism is disingenuous as long as it does not adhere to intersectionality. I therefore do not take it seriously.

11. How would you describe your political beliefs?

I’m a socialist democrat feminist.

12. What words do you use most often to describe yourself?

Village girl

13. What’s your favourite feminist quote?

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde.

“If any female feels she need anything beyond herself to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.” – bell hooks

14. What’s your least favourite thing about feminism?

I don’t like it when feminists penis shame. But honestly there are very few things I don’t like about feminism. I know that feminist aggression, how explicit feminists can be also, is very much frowned upon. Because it shocks people into dealing with feminist agency. And I honestly don’t see anything wrong with that.

15. What’s something amazing that women in your country are doing for themselves?

Women are running corporations. South Africa is second after Rwanda as the country that empowers women the most. Probably why there’s an increase in domestic violence. So called emasculation of men.

16. What advice would you give other on being more verbal and active in social issues?

Follow feminist dialogues, learn learn learn. Way before you open your mouth. Ask questions, and respect the answers.

17. Who are some of your favourite Africans?

Thebe Ikalafeng, Panashe Chigumadzi, Japheth Omojuwa, Cobhams Asuquo, Asa, Marang Setshwaelo. I have plenty.

18. Can you tell me what your experience of being a black woman is and includes? What do you love? What do you hate?

I love that I have never seen myself through the eyes of patriarchy. I still get a shock when I realize that some of the responses I get are due to my gender not my intellect.

19. Which black woman would you love to be for a day, just for the experience?

Excellency Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

20. How important is self-care to you? What does it involve for you?

Very. Self care means that I might cut out people that make me uncomfortable in my own skin. I am an empath and there am very susceptible to people’s energies. Therefore I’m guarded about my space.

21. If you had to spend your life doing a job that advances feminism what would it be?

Girl education.

She tweets over here and does incredible work so I’ll say nothing else. She speaks for herself. 

My Feminism Looks Like… K

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

My name is K and I’m 26 years old. I was born and raised in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and I’ve spent the last fourteen years in New Zealand. I have a Master of Arts in History and I’m hoping to pursue a Master of Teaching. I prefer to give my family the opportunity to plan graduation parties rather than a wedding they keep asking about. I’m currently tutoring a course on the history of Western sexuality at the University of Auckland. I love Kanye West but he’s making it increasingly difficult for me to ride for him like he rides for Beyonce.

2. What does feminism mean to you as an African woman?

Feminism has become incredibly meaningful to me in ways I did not expect. My feminism looks like a critique and dismantling of the various intersecting systems of power hell-bent on oppressing us. I’ve spent the last few years building my tool-kit by reading feminist literature (Black feminist texts have become my survival literature) and connecting with amazing women who share these ideas. But I need my feminism to go beyond academic discussions and I need all this knowledge to mean something. It has to translate to everyday life. Feminism has allowed me to interrogate the issues that affect my life and the lives of those I love. I’m supporting a family member who was diagnosed with several mental health conditions and autism. My feminism has helped me to have discussions with my father (!!!) about how and why telling this family member ‘to be a man’ or to just ‘snap out of it’ was inappropriate, unhelpful, and erases the very real mental health conditions this person faces. My feminism has helped me to confront the patriarchy present in my own household and attempt to dismantle it, one difficult and painful conversation at a time.

3. How do you answer people who question the importance and/or validity of feminism?

I find that the people who ask this question or a variation of it are the same people who fail to pluralize ‘feminist’ in their attacks on all feminist. They reduce feminism to a set of superficial ideas held by angry women. Feminists are dismissed as angry, selfish, and one-dimensional for focusing on ‘women’s issues’ as opposed to ‘real issues’. What some people don’t realize is that feminism interrogates the oppressive power structures that underlie the ‘real issues’ feminists are accused of ignoring.

4. Are you an intersectional feminist?

‘My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit’ – Flavia Dzodan

5. What is your take on pornography?

I’m fascinated by the ways in which race, gender, and sex are constructed on the pornographic screen. I wrote my MA thesis on the representation of race in interracial pornography. I’ve encountered my fair share of backlash within academia and outside it and I can no longer engage in debates with people who refuse to critically examine porn before they condemn it all. I think that pornography is a problematic, though important cultural source precisely because it reveals so much about our culture. To dismiss it before we deconstruct it means we miss a crucial opportunity to analyze how these often-problematic representations are actively constructed, by whom, and for what purposes.

6. What’s your take on White Feminism?

Patricia Arquette’s comments at the 2015 Academy Awards sum up White Feminism effectively. I’d just like to apologize to her because while my gender has been fighting the good fight, my race and sexuality haven’t been pulling their weight in helping white women. That’s all I’ll say about her.

I’m sceptical of White Feminism especially when it claims to be intersectional. A white feminist once asked me to join a reading group that she was a member of. I was excited until I found out that I was going to be the only Black woman in the group. She asked me to attend in the week the group was discussing Audre Lorde. She tried to bait me with my own survival literature.

Dear white feminists,

If you invite me to your party and it isn’t intersectional, I will swiftly R.S.V.P ‘NO’ because you will not be catering to my intersecting identities. If you invite me to your party in the hopes that EYE will bring the intersectionality, I send my regrets.

Best,

Kim

7. How important is self-care to you? What does it involve for you?

Self-care is crucial to my survival. My self-care is mine. It is the care of my mother fucking self. I say this in light of a poem I came across recently that listed a bunch of things that self-care is not or should not be. The only thing self-care should not be, is policed. My self-care consists of a number of things that give me immense joy:

  • drinking tea with my mother
  • spending time with my beloveds
  • watching Love and Hip Hop (ATL, NY, Hollywood – and in that order)
  • deep-conditioning my hair
  • making hair and body butters because I’m obsessed with watching tutorials on YouTube – shout out to HeyFranHey
  • reading
  • special ME time – I’ll leave this open to interpretation

8. Thoughts on body shaming?

I detest body shaming! There’s a special place in hell for people who body shame under the guise of ‘health concerns’. This is my usual response to these ‘health concerns’:

Unless you have suddenly become a health professional who now has access to a person’s medical records, you have no right to speak on their health and you need to shut the fuck up.

Weight-related body shaming is a particularly sensitive topic for me. I’m 5’3” but I’m not a petite girl. In fact, everything about me is big: my hair, my titties, my arms, my belly, my ass. I take up space and I’m shamed for doing so in ways the world does not approve of. The first time I posted a full-body picture online was to celebrate #PlusSizeAppreciation on Twitter because I was so inspired by all the beautiful people who posted their pictures. Who do I talk to about maaaybe, like, auditioning for Big Fine Twitter?

9. What’s your favourite quote?

‘There is really nothing more to say except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.’ – Toni Morrison

10. What is your favourite memory that involves black women?

This memory is painful but it has become my favourite memory because it was transformative and healing in many ways. My cousin Naomi is five years old and she is one of my favourite people. A couple of years ago, I was watching TV with Naomi and her mother, Lesley – another one of my favourite people. Naomi looked at me and said ‘I need to get a haircut so I can be a princess’. This confused me until she pointed at the image of a white woman on TV. I knew exactly what she meant by ‘haircut’. She then pointed at my 26 inch, virgin, Brazilian hair and said ‘you can be a princess, she can be a princess, but I can’t’. Despite the fact that she loved Princess Tiana, at three years old this little girl already had an understanding of white beauty standards and felt that she could not be a princess without straight hair. My aunty and I cried painful tears. We talked about how we noticed Naomi doing something we did as little girls: wearing towels on our heads to pretend we had straight hair. Naomi is a big part of the reason I went natural. She has beautiful curls and we reinforce and affirm this at every moment because Black girls are magic and they have to grow up knowing and believing this.

11. What’s something that you’re still navigating your way in?

I’m navigating the complexity of being a black feminist and being willing and able to recite Tupac Shakur’s ‘Hit Em Up’ – and many other tracks – in their entirety. To know me is to know that I love Pac. I’m well aware that this statement will probably invite charges of hypocrisy because how can I call myself a feminist and love rap? I critique and contextualise rap music, just as I critique and contextualise other problematic cultural sources. My intellectual sister Joan Morgan has been helping me through this since the 99 and 2000s.

Kim shares all her glory on Twitter and on IG (all the muhfucken swoons).

My Feminism Looks Like… Alyx Carolus

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I’m Alyx Carolus, a content producer who currently works in the pretty city. I write for a pretty popular online magazine in Cape Town, manage social media as well as juggling volunteering and my own donation drives. A recent transplant to the Mother City, I’m a recent graduate from Rhodes University (majored in Anthropology and English Language & Linguistics) and honestly, I would love to get my Masters in Anthropology. I have a penchant for body modifications (worked in a tattoo studio) – I have seven tattoos and seven piercings! I currently have an obsession with all black outfits, vintage clothes, Kehlani Parrish and Zoe Kravitz.

2. When did you first identify as a feminist?

I must have been in my first year at Rhodes University when I realised what my “beliefs” meant. I participated in the now well-known Silent Protest in 2010 with my late best friend and it completely blew my mind. I realised then, I was making a choice that some people weren’t going to find easy to understand. But I’m really not here to make other people comfortable.

3. What would you recommend a young feminist does?

Read, read and read! You’ll need an arsenal of magnificent texts when you encounter ignorance. Most importantly, find the people you can relate to. It helps to know who you look up to and having that present in your life. On a practical note, get involved with a NGO to learn about how you can make a difference, but also to meet like-minded people. It can be tough out here with some of the blatant ignorance feminists face.

4. Are you an intersectional feminist?

Hell yes.

5. What is your take on pornography?

I personally have nothing against it, I think the way the industry is run and managed is flawed and standards rather unrealistic when it comes to the female form. I don’t agree with the idea that it’s shameful and there are already women making feminist focused content. Sex happens. And if it’s done right – it’s pretty majestic.

6. What’s your take on White Feminism?

Can one eyeroll into another dimension? I think it’s entirely limiting and often trying to explain this to other feminists can be tiring.

7. Who is one Black woman you’d love to spend a day with?

It’s so hard to choose, my God. But ultimately, I’d really just like to spend a day out with ol’ Toni Morrison. The Bluest Eye was a book I stumbled on in my mother’s collection and gave me so much strength. I felt like the way I thought or wanted to write wasn’t all that weird, because Toni was doing it and doing it bloody well.

8. Who’s one black woman you think you would great friends with?

Janet Mock. I’ve watched her thrive over the last few years and her personality, no-nonsense attitude and sheer wisdom gives me so much life. I watch her show and interviews when I’m feeling low or just need to remind myself that women are doing this life thing, pretty well.

9. Thoughts on body-shaming?

It’s honestly something I find utterly deplorable. I have struggled with disordered eating and am only now able to acknowledge how badly I treated my body. The concept of shaming someone for the way they look is unbelievably damaging (especially in your developing years) I was dubbed anorexic and unhealthy by my peers in primary school and it led to an obsession with body proportion. I was measuring my body constantly and set unattainable standards for myself. And it all stemmed from someone making horrible comments about the way I looked (besides the other issues going in my life at the time. I regularly try and check myself with the comments I make. I have no right to comment on someone’s weight or appearance because it doesn’t “align” with society’s standards.

10. What’s your take on sexuality?

I truly believe sexuality is fluid and some of us float on different ends of the spectrum or know exactly what we want. In determining who you find attractive or want to be with – it can often change (and sometimes life throws you a curveball!). I honestly just want people to feel welcome to express themselves as they please, date whom they please and find their own comfort level or confidence with sexuality/sensuality.

Alyx blogs. She tweets. She’s witty and uses GIFs – so obviously a guaranteed good time.

She’s also on Insta where she shows off the glory that is her face and thighs. Swoon City really. 

My Feminism Looks Like… Nthabiseng Nooe

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I am a young Black woman trying to navigate life, and all its complexities, while trying to give people access to human dignity by working towards equitable and sustainable access to clean water. I am a Student Governance elder at the University of Pretoria where I just started my MSc in hydrogeology, directly after finishing my honours, which also directly followed my geology undergraduate.

Very few things make me happier than seeing people gather the bravery to unapologetically be themselves. That’s hard work.

2. What do you have to tell men who’d like be feminist “allies”?

From what I know, feminists can be women and men, as long as there is an understanding of structural inequality economically, politically and socially. What is necessary is the recognition that men, even if well versed in the gender issue, never to think their knowledge can replace the lived experiences of women. The trick is to, first, listen. Then secondly to never account for experiences you have never had.

We welcome you to smash the patriarchy with us – the only good use for male privilege is against male privilege.

3. When did you first identify as a feminist?

I came across the term about 4 our 5 years ago. Before that, as my friend Lerato Mlambo would say, “girl power” was all I had. I am grateful for the work done in feminist movements because my discovery of it gave me a base to articulate and attempt to disturb the gender inequality I saw. Sadly, this inequality is ubiquitous and pervasive.

4. If you could fill up your day with things you love to do, what would you do?

Hug my friends, for the most part – I live for tight, lingering hugs. I would have Mumford & Sons and The Fray playing softly in the background for the whole 24 hours, while I read opinion pieces on feminism and sex.

5. Who is your go-to African woman inspiration?

I have two, and I will never be forced to pick either one of them, I even have their names in my Twitter bio:

6. Can you share what your most important lesson that you hold dear to you is?

I am not wrong to want, and work towards equality, just because the group vocal about the issues I care about appears small and is always at the receiving end of insult. Our efforts are necessary.

7. How do you usually respond when people ask why feminists are so angry?

“WELL, OBVIOUSLY!”

8. What’s your favourite quote?

“If you want to know then we must talk. There are no short answers, not if you really want to know.” – Paul Myburgh, from the documentary ‘Conversations with Paul Myburgh’

9. Who’s your favourite Black woman artist?

Easily Janelle Monáe – for her ability to push on until she got to a place where she could help others, with HER OWN rules. To me, she embodies Black woman magic and my symbol of ‘Care-free Black Girls’.

10.  Would your country be receptive to a Feminist political party?

South Africa? Wow! Not in the near future. We are still struggling with women wings in the political parties we have. But I think something important to know is that there would not need to be wide acceptance, but rather presence and work. A intersectional feminist party would do great work where it reaches successfully, and that is what is important.

Her brilliance resides over here:

Twitter: @NthabyNooe

Blog: nthabynooe.wordpress.com

My Feminism Looks Like… Tshepo Jamillah Moyo

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

My name is Tshepo Jamillah Moyo, I am a 21 year old Motswana. Usually this question means what do you do? I’m a creative who does many things while attempting to get an undergraduate degree double majoring in Political Science and Public Administration at the University of Botswana. I have a talent for words and also dabble in both fiction and non-fiction writing. But after years (since 15) of writing for a newspaper, supporting the growing art industry in Botswana, performing in numerous productions, I’ve found my home as a gender activist. I now run a feminist orientated NGO by the name of Higher Heights for Girls aimed at achieving inclusive gender equality in Botswana. When I’m not working I take long naps, drink lots of coffee, ride a 450cc quad bike, Shoot game (on game farms for eating lol) and raise a boerbull by the name of Rusty. Oh, I also really like Lipstick.

2. When did you first identify as a feminist?

This is a question I get asked a lot because of the fact that I grew up in a home that tried not to subscribe to gender roles. My mother is a feminist and is actually in a similar line of work as me but specializing in male involvement and the boy child whereas I specialize in the girl child. So I’ve never subscribed to the regular “what girls do”. I’m also very close to my father who comes from an outdoors family, so I spend a lot of time with my dad and uncles fishing, bike racing, stripping car engines, putting together sound systems, and hunting. But I didn’t realize this wasn’t how everyone else was until when I was 14 or 15 my family went on a hunting trip in Tsabong. We took along an uncle of mine. Anyway to cut the story short at one point during this trip this particular uncle told me I belonged in the kitchen and that the reason this trip was going terribly was because there was a woman on the trip. I was so confused. It was the first time in my life that it dawned on me that I did not subscribe to the status quo. I remember going home very upset about the whole incident despite my parents telling me girls didn’t belong in the kitchen but wherever they wanted to be. That was the first time in my life that I realized that I was a girl. I mean obviously I knew I was sexually but in that moment I realized I was a girl in the terms of gender. I researched about gender roles on that day and upon finding that women who didn’t subscribe to them were called feminists decided that’s what I was. Of course, being the lame kid I was I told my mom I thought I was a feminist and I didn’t hate men, she told me I didn’t have to care about hating men as long as I was who I was on my terms and not even gender roles can dictate where I belong.

3. What would you recommend a young feminist does?

You’ve got to read. As young feminists people are always asking for our receipts. Know the statistics, know the issues, know the why. Don’t allow yourself to rely on an emotional argument because that will allow people to submit religious arguments into discussions. Academic arguments are your best defense force. Researched and methodological studies will always hold more water. In fact, read the bible too so you can slam and debunk the defences for patriarchy that some people use. Read up on African traditions pre-colonialism so you can debunk the feminism is a western idea. In order to defend an ideology you must know both its strengths and its weakness, you must know your opponent or critics’ strength and weakness. Despite knowing that feminism is correct or feels right you must be able to tell someone else why. But more importantly be forever learning and unlearning.

4. If you could fill up your day with things you love to do, what would they do?

I would honestly probably sleep and start my day at 12 to start writing. Writing is definitely a passion of mine and if I could spend the day writing it would make me a million times happier. Luckily, I’m aware of the power of my passion, if I could write all day I could probably build a bigger fan base and be able to change more lives. That is the power of telling stories, that you can change a life and make one person in the world feel less alone. Sometimes a poem is the difference between getting out of bed and surviving the day or getting out of bed and jumping off a building.

5. What’s your take on sex positivity?

Sex positivity is the difference between a girl who has sex for herself and a girl who gets manipulated into it. Studies in Botswana show that young girls and boys are debuting sexually at a younger age than they were 10 years ago. Some are even debuting as early as 9 years old. Not only are their bodies not ready, these kids report feeling pressured into having sex for the first time. Yes, this is the case with both boys and girls. Sex positivity can definitely change this. This is because it allows one to own their sexuality, to have full command over their body. To be able to say when where and how you want sex gives you a power that no one can take.

6. Can you share what your most important lesson that you hold dear to you is?

That I am enough. It’s hard to explain but I didn’t exactly have it easy growing up or maybe I always felt that way. I mean I’m a middle class Motswana kid with a twang, I’ve never been hungry long enough to cry or pass out. So I guess I had it pretty easy but I have two very opposing personalities. On one hand I can talk up a storm on the other I find it extremely difficult to build relationships with humans. So I didn’t fit into a lot of places more especially with my cousins. I was always trying to prove that I was good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, loving enough, but after 21 years and a lot of downs I realized that this is it. This is the only version of me anyone is ever getting and she is enough.

7. What’s your favourite myth to laugh at that centers feminists?

That we’re ugly and single. My mom is a feminist who has been happily married for 21 years. One of my favorite feminists Doo Aphane is also gorgeous and happily married despite using her maiden name. Also I’ve never met an ugly feminist.

8. What advice would you give to a young feminist?

It would definitely be to learn to pick your battles. It took me a very long time to learn that not everything is worth going to war over because it leaves you exhausted to fight every day. That does not mean you condone misogyny but rather that you live to fight another day. An argument with a random drunk man in a combi over him saying women are idiots will not make a difference. The same conversation with your 4 year old nephew, however, might. It took me forever to learn that I can create a no misogyny zone around me without squaring up with everyone and everything that upsets me. Sometimes blocking someone is more effective.

9. Something you adore about you woman you are?

I actually did not know this till my boyfriend started telling me the nice things people say about me. But I adore that I am the person I am with every single person I meet. You’ll never hear different versions of who I am. Which my mom tells me is the key to integrity. No matter who you ask, whether my parents, a friend, my boyfriend a twitter follower you’ll get the same description of me.

10. What’s something that you’re still navigating your way in?

Being chairwoman of Higher Heights for girls is a lot harder than I thought it would be. I thought everything would just happen but it turns out there’s politics in everything, including charitable work. There’s not a lot of red tape but a lot of people steal your ideas, or stall your projects. A lot of people are scared you’re the next them and they don’t want to give up that position. So you have to work a lot harder than you usually expect. I’m learning to know when “stop by my office let’s talk” is genuine and not. I’m learning how to keep my team inspired without paying them. I’m learning how to allow my team to do their jobs without mother henning them. It’s a difficult process. It’s different from all other tasks I’ve taken on because I’m the leader in this one, everyone is looking at me for the answers.

11. What’s a guilty pleasure of yours?

I watch a reality TV show called the Bad Girls Club. Its an American show where 7 girls between 21-30 are put in one house and basically are on their absolute worst behaviours. They drink, party, bully each other, fight and do a whole lot of silly things. It’s my guilty pleasure because majority of the show is obviously very misogynist and humans generally shouldn’t treat each other the way these girls do. But I find that some of these girls don’t even know they’re feminists, not the text book dictionary mythological feminists but every day feminists who get what they want when they want and refuse to take no for an answer.

12. What’s an issue in your country that you believe needs more attention?

Without a doubt the state of romantic and sexual relationships between the youth regardless of sexual orientation seems to be a problem. It seems they’re becoming extremely abusive and no one is noticing. The way kids interact with each other in schools concerns me. Sexual harassment is rampant even in primary schools. The derogatory language young kids use to describe each other “thots, sluts, fuck boys” they don’t treat each other like humans and the cyber world does not happen to help the situation making pornographic revenge a problem. A sex tape of 3 kids having sex recently hit the internet and even adults laughed and RT. Cyber laws have not caught up to address these issues. There’s also a growing drug culture in the youth which really bothers me.

13. What one word describes you as a Feminist?

Pro-choice really. My feminism is none shaming. I really just want women to live in a world they can make choices free and independent of shaming and influence of patriarchy.

Let’s just all swoon over Tshepo. I do it here

Her personal Tumblr

The Joy Scribbles

1THIRDOFAWOMAN

Her Facebook

Higher Heights for Girls WordPress.

My Feminism Looks Like… Nokulinda Mkhize

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

Liker of Nice Things. Sangoma. Stay at home mum of 2. Wife. Black on Both Sides. Fresher than You.

2. What do you have to tell men who’d like be feminist “allies”?

Mind your privilege. Listen.

3.  How do you answer people when they say feminism is a Western idea?

I wrote this for City Press in 2013: http://abahlali.org/node/9466/

4. What does feminism mean to you as an African woman?

Feminism is Ubuntu – recognizing, upholding and and respecting the humanity of others. Womyn are in urgent, and extra need of this recognition and respect because of structures within our cultures, traditions, and the world in general, that work actively to rob us of our humanity on a daily basis.

5. What’s your take on White Feminism? 

LOL

6. Who are your go-to African woman inspiration?

My mum, gran and my sister – I know them, their struggles and triumphs. I’m not easily inspired by people I don’t know.

7.  What’s your favourite myth to laugh at that centers feminists?

That we are ugly and aren’t getting laid enough.

8. What advice would you give to a young feminist?

Life is complex and contradictory, that’s why there is no perfect feminist. Just strive to be honest and ever learning.

9. What’s your favourite quote?

“If you should see a goat in a lion’s den – fear it.” – Amadouh Kourouma

10. What’s your take on sexuality?

It’s like water.

I adore Nokulinda. One of the things that she told me back in 2013 actually has stuck with me is when I asked her about feminisms back then. I was incredibly frustrated at being woke, if we’re being real. You know when you first open your eyes up to the bullshit that is patriarchy, racism, etc and feel you need to engage everyone who’s ignant? She told me,

“You’re 21. The world looks very black and white at that age. I remember feeling exactly how you’re feeling. It’ll pass :) Ya. You get older, you live a little bit, you get a bit jaded. You gain some perspective (hopefully) and find ‘sustainable’ politics. It’s not healthy. You must pick your battles. Know your limits. And one day it clicks – living your beliefs is better than speaking them. I know what it’s like to be a 21 year old exploding volcano of a womyn. As you grow up and older, that raging fire makes way to something as powerful but less engulfing.” 

I have it written down in a notebook and she’ll only find out when this post goes live how much it’s stuck by me. I think it’s something that needs to be told to a lot of young feminists because self-care should trump any engagement if you feel it’s necessary – not engaging has never made me feel like less of a feminist. I’m such a stan for the Black women who share the way she did with me. Ngiyabonga Gogo.

She shares more over here on her Twitter.

And she blogs!

My Feminism Looks Like… Dzivaramazwi

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I really struggled with this one and left it until I’d answered every other question I wanted to answer. There’s so much about me that I choose not to recognize and share with other people. I’m a human on a very tiresome journey. I know I love to laugh, smile, love, read and write. I know that most times I don’t like living. I know that I’m afraid of how life keeps coming at me fast, all the while I’m trying to find my center of gravity and failing miserably. I know that I haven’t got much figured out yet and for some reason people think I’m mysterious. I know that I’m not. I’m just trying to figure myself out before I make a big show of what it is I really am to the rest of the world. I’m a lover, I love pleasurable things and I love experiencing life with other people on my side. I’m curious about a lot of things and mostly, I’m curious about myself.

2. Are you an intersectional feminist?

My whole being is intersectional. My politics isn’t intersectional by choice, it’s just a mere extension, expression and consciousness of what I experience in every dimension of being I am. I don’t deserve a cookie.

3. What is your take on pornography?

I appreciate porn. Often times I forget how problematic it is but eventually I remember. I try to make sure that my consumption of it is ethical and responsible so I stay away from certain tags. God knows I’d totally be in this industry if I could. I see so many things that I’d like to change about it or enhance but alas… money.

4. What’s something amazing that women in your country are doing for themselves?

Taking care of their families on just a dollar or two a day. For real, I’ve seen this and these people are just gods. Gods!

5. What do you do to heal?

Listen to music. Cry. Laugh. Love. Talk about it.

6. Thoughts on body-shaming?

Women are beautiful. I fux with them and their bodies, all shades, shapes and sizes. I’m here for all that beauty. And on those rare occasions that I’m not, life goes on. I can’t imagine why it should linger and for crying out loud why should the whole world know that you don’t find something beautiful? I just don’t get it. So much beauty is always occupying my mind, I can’t imagine anything else.

7. Your favourite Black eye-candy?

Have you seen black people? I beg, how am I supposed to pick a favourite?

8. What’s your favourite quote?

Right now, “I haven’t failed. I’ve simply found 10 000 more ways that won’t work” – Thomas A. Edison

9. What’s your take on sexuality?

It is absolutely breathtaking and beautiful in all its various forms and expressions.

10. How did you “discover” feminism?

I was 14 and attending a debating session. One of the topics written on the board had the word feminist in it. That was the first time I actually realized that there was a word for all of the ‘radical’ ideas and feelings raging within me.

11. What is your favourite memory that involves black women?

Black girls, actually. Me, four or five of my girl friends and a mirror behind a locked room – getting acquainted with all the lovely new and beautiful things that were happening to our bodies and each other. And no, we didn’t know anything about feminism back then, let alone what feminists used to do behind closed doors in the 50s.

12. What’s something that you’re still navigating your way in?

My sexuality. I know, most people make it seem as though once you come out to one or two groups of people you are set for life but not really. I keep finding out things about myself that I really had no idea were a part of me. Mostly it’s an exciting journey, but it really fucks with my politics sometimes.

13. If you had two wishes, what would they be?

That my second wish be an infinite number of responsible and ethical wishes.

14. Would your country be receptive to a Feminist political party?

NO.

<3

Dzivaramazwi tweets over here.

She also writes beautifully on her blog

My Feminism Looks Like… The African Siren

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

Most people on my TL know me as “Nafe”. I’m a globetrotting Malawian, professional student, soap-making witch, & that angry, militant, man-hating Internet feminist your father warned you about.

2. What do you have to tell men who’d like be feminist “allies”?

If you want to be an ally to anybody, the first thing you need to do is shut the fuck up. Seriously. Shut the fuck up. It baffles me how many people want to be allies but want their voices to be heard over those of the marginalised. We have mouths so stop speaking for us. Let us tell our own stories. You are here to listen & stand in solidarity, to vote for legislation that makes our lives easier, to help put candidates in power that will stand for us, to help bring down employers that have discriminatory practices, etc.

In my opinion, the only time allies should speak for the marginalised is when they are in spaces that we don’t have access to/aren’t present in. In your all white male boardroom? At your golf club? At your homophobic friend’s house? That’s when you should say something. Because those spaces are the kind many of us don’t have access to & that’s where a lot of shit is talked. Also STOP expecting praise for acknowledging our humanity. What kind of backward ass mentality is that? Where we have to say thank you & kiss your ass for recognising us as human beings who are entitled to the same respect as everyone else?

3. Who’s your favourite feminist?

I don’t have a favourite feminist per se but there are a lot of feminists I admire and respect, most of whom are on my Twitter timeline. When I first signed up to Twitter, I was a gotdamn mess. I “thought” I was a feminist, and perhaps I was(?), but I was homo- & transphobic as hell, didn’t give a fuck about sex workers, & had a lot of unpacking & unlearning to do. The feminists on my TL helped me do that. I can count on one hand how many white feminists I’ve actually learned extensively from. I discovered womanism, & intersectionality, & historical accuracy, & acquired the necessary vocab I needed to articulate my politics. I’ve had multiple Twitter accounts but the people I’ve followed have been pretty consistent. I’ve learnt and grown so much. S/O to the feminists on my TL, you’ve helped evolve this bad witch.

4. What’s one thing you do to bring feminism to more young girls?

I don’t really interact with young girls but I have little sisters, three of them. What I try to do is catch the problematic bullshit they learn & “unteach” them. One of my fave stories (which I’ve told on the TL at least once) is when my little sister and I were outside looking at the stars. She commented that the stars are pretty and I said yes they are. She then said boys can’t like stars because only girls can like pretty things. And I told her “No, everyone can like pretty things”. She paused for a moment to let that process and then she said, “Everyone can like pretty things”. And that was that. I don’t complicate our conversations with theories or jargon they won’t understand and, to them, life is as simple as everyone doing what they like and playing with the toys they want and becoming whoever they want without being discriminated against for it. They don’t yet know it is feminism but as they grow, they’ll become more aware of the world they’re in & realise its importance.

5. What’s your least favourite thing about feminism?

I don’t think I have a least favourite thing about feminism but the application of feminism is what bothers me sometimes. I believe in intersectionality & acknowledging the complexities of peoples’ identities and situations. I hate it when people think that there is only one way to be a feminist, usually the stereotypical career woman who shouldn’t want to be a mother or partner to someone. I’ve seen feminists talk shit about people who are happy being stay-at-home-mums or housewives. Shit, I used to be one them. We often forget that feminism, boiled down to its simplest form, is aboutchoice. To have the right to choose the kind of life you want to live, the people you want to love etc without being marginalised for it. All that I ask is that we constantly examine why we want the things we want. Sometimes it’s internalised BS that causes us to want certain things. And that’s what also bothers me about people who are against feminism. Not understanding what feminism actually is.

6. Who is your go-to African woman inspiration?

Wangari Maathai. She was my first real introduction to feminist bad-assery in African political & environmental activism. The more I read about her, the more I wanted to know. From becoming the first East & Central African woman to earn a PhD & a Nobel Peace Prize to launching the Green Belt Movement to adding the extra “a” in her last name to piss off her ex-husband after he demanded she drop his name. Funnily enough, he divorced her because he claimed she was too wild to tame. Basically, she was #GOALZ. Unfortunately, she passed away before I got to meet her.

7. What’s something you wish you were told as a young girl?

“Just be, baby girl. Just be. Your existence is revolution enough.”

8. What’s a feminist issue you hold closest to you? (Not to say that any issue is more important than others.)

Hmmm… this is difficult. I’d have to say two issues that are really sensitive for me are: gender based violence and sex workers’ rights.

9. How important is self-care to you? What does it involve for you?

Self-care is incredibly important to me. I suffer from depression and the only reason I’ve been off medication for nearly two years (whoop! whoop!) is because of self-care. For me, self-care involves taking days off when I feel it’ll be too much to try and participate in daily activities or going shopping or for a massage or dressing up for absolutely no reason and treating myself to lunch. Sometimes, self-care for me means deactivating my Twitter account (my TL knows I do this often) & just unplugging. Once, I went a whole year without a phone. It was one of the most stress free years of my life. Self-care means responding appropriately when your body and/or mind says “Not today, Satan” and it means removing things from your life that give you unnecessary headaches, from bad sex to internet trolls to trash friends. Let that shit go. Or, at the very least, minimise contact.

10. What one word describes you as a Feminist?

Nothereforthebullshit

I met Nafe via her shade on the Twirra streets. Catch some over here.

My Feminism Looks Like… Zoe Samudzi

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1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

My name is Zoe Samudzi, I’m a 22 year old first generation American of Zimbabwean descent. I’m an academic, and I currently work on a research project that’s seeking to create culturally-competent (i.e. context and identity-specific) HIV interventions for trans women. I no longer identify as a feminist, but as a womanist. I’ve come to the point where I’m no longer going to insist upon inclusion in a set of gender politics that actively antagonizes black women/women of color and trans women and sex workers and excludes many others when I could be contributing to an epistemology that is rooted in my ideological oppression and lived experiences as a black woman.

2. What does feminism mean to you as an African woman?

It means so many things, but above all, it means maximizing women’s agency in culturally complementary ways. For example, many African women are burdened with both waged and reproductive labor, i.e. they work outside of the house and then are responsible for household chores and raising children; they are often double-burdened (triple-burdened if you count community engagement as another major facet of their lives) and left without leisure time. Feminism, in this context, would address cultural and societal norms that created and perpetuate these gendered divisions of labor that preclude men from reproductive labor and frequently exclude women from processes of land ownership and inheritance. Feminism would also address the destructive constructs of masculinity and gender more broadly that drive damaging relationship dynamics, lead to the stigma and exclusion of and violence against LGBTQ communities, and women’s ability (in many contexts) to be sexually agentic and expressive. Shifting gendered attitudes around sexual practice (and assumptions of male dominance therein) would also have huge implications for HIV prevention. Feminism would also enable women access to education and policymaking, it would mean more protections for female sex workers and migrant women, prioritization of reproductive health issues, and so on. There’s a lot of potential for all kinds of transformative change.

3. How do you answer people when they say feminism is a Western idea?

I would say that they’re correct. Feminism as we commonly understand it – a largely white, female, middle-class grouping of politics – is a Western exercise. But African women have been subverting and finding means of coping with gendered and sexual and other oppression for centuries. Perhaps it is not called feminism, but it is powerful nonetheless. It is arrogant to believe that African women have never fought for their own emancipation without the use of an imperialist Western-constructed feminist paradigm. I love this byte from Obioma Nnaemeka about the arrogance of Western feminism as it regards African women: “The arrogance that declares African women ‘problems’ objectifies us and undercuts the agency necessary for forging true global sisterhood. African women are not problems to be solved. Like women everywhere, African women have problems. More important, they have provided solutions to these problems. We are the only ones who can set our priorities and agenda. Anyone who wishes to participate in our struggles must do so in the context of our agenda.”

4. What is your take on people who deem themselves “allies”?

I think we pay self-proclaimed “allies” far more attention than they deserve, particularly because they make demands for space and have an awful tendency of centering themselves. Standing in solidarity with and supporting marginalized communities is basic human decency, and I don’t think anyone should receive acclaim for self-assertion of that label (particularly when they’re a lot of talk and very little action, which they often are).

5. What’s your take on White Feminism?

White Feminism, frankly, is Bechdel test feminism. The Bechdel test is a test applied to movies testing for gender bias: the criterion is that the work of fiction features at least two women who talk to one another about something other than a man (about half of movies fail it). But that doesn’t necessarily mean the female characters necessarily are or have to be anything other than conventionally attractive able-bodied cisgender heterosexual white women. So many of the things I’ve seen mainstream/pop/White Feminism call “feminist” is the mere inclusion of women in things, and it’s always white women and/or some respectable or caricature sidekick token “other.” White Feminism, in all its superficiality and exclusivity and gate-keeping, is bullshit.

6. How would you describe your political beliefs?

I would consider myself a womanist social anarchist. I’m an anarchist because my ideal world is a stateless society driven by voluntary participation, but I believe that freedom and liberation is grounded in collectivism and mutual aid. I’m also a prison abolitionist and I believe in the need for transformative and alternative modes of justice rather than the racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and ableist American prison-industrial complex.

7. What’s your take on sex positivity?

So I don’t necessarily consider myself sex positive, not because don’t support folks who are sexually liberal (I think any acts between consenting adults are absolutely fair game) but because I am not supportive of the idea of “enthusiastic consent” as the only valid consent. There’s a sex worker on Twitter called @pastachips who I adore and with whom I had a really enlightening conversation about sex positivity and rigid constructions of consent. Rather than recognizing “enthusiastic consent” as the only valid form of consent, we need to recognize the spectrum of recognized consent, which ranges from enthusiastic to significantly less so (coerced consent is not something I recognize as valid because that, in my opinion, is sexual assault). Sex positivity, she said, tends to derail sex workers’ discussions by centering sex on empowerment and pleasure, which is relatively low priority. She says that the sex positivity framework underplays discussions of labor rights issues, which have to preface discussions of pleasure in sex work. Whether or not sex is empowering or disempowering is significantly less important than whether or not one is acting as an agent (a point made by @ThatSabineGirl, a trans female sex worker who I also respect immensely), i.e. able to consent to sex and make autonomous sexual decisions. There’s a Storify about it:https://storify.com/samudzi/on-sex-positivity-and-empowerment

8. Thoughts on transphobia?

There’s no place for it in progressive gender politics of any nature even though Second Wave feminism is incredibly transphobic and antagonistic towards trans women (and White Feminism continues to be). If you oppose patriarchy, you must also support transgender people because it is the very same patriarchal norms perpetuating hegemonic gender constructs oppressing cisgender women that enable transphobia. As a woman, an attack on trans women is an attack on our collective womanhood (not the contrived “we have the same struggle as women” sisterhood, but a collective and varied womanhood where we stand in solidarity regardless of different backgrounds and identities and experiences). My liberation as a cis woman is inextricably linked to the liberation of trans folks because the same white-centered hegemonic gender constructs that gate-keep and police trans identities and gender expressions and transitions are part of the same processes that “other” black women and police our aesthetic, gendered, and sexual expression.

9. What’s your favourite quote?

“I found god in myself & I loved her/I loved her fiercely.” It’s the last line of ‘A laying on of hands” from Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf. I got it tattooed on my back as a birthday gift to myself this past November.

10. What advice would you give to a young feminist?

Two things: You are your own, and your feelings are valid. Your joys, fears, hesitations, anger, boldness, sadness, triumphs, all of them are valid. Do not ever let anyone tell you otherwise.

Swoon over Zoe with me over here.

My Feminism Looks Like… Khanyisile

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I am a late twenties feminist heathen living in Johannesburg. I am a Chartered Accountant by profession and read things to forget.

2. How do you answer people when they say feminism is a Western idea?

I guess I answer that I must be a Western import? No seriously, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognise that one is an oppressed person. It’s an insult to the intelligence of women from the so-called ‘global South’ to assume that we must be conscientised to our own oppression by more ‘enlightened’ outsiders. The feminist/womanist theory for some comes later (if at all) but the body knows and the mind follows on with its own thoughts of individual rebellion. Once easily thwarted by the weight of society, you might start to recognise a systematic pattern larger than one’s your life and the lives of those you know. In fact you might notice your intersecting oppressions, especially perpetuated, even unknowingly by those who claim to care for you and those questions will lead you to other women, with similar questions. We don’t then seek to answer these questions the same way or with the same priority, hence the different schools of thought. African women have their own feminisms, long-standing and certainly not only visible on social media.

3. Are you an intersectional feminist?

I would say so, though the matrix of oppression expands for me daily in scope and understanding. For me it means listening more than you speak, but also avoiding listening to only one part of a community of voices (perhaps the most vocal part) and trying to hold out for more diverse voices all the time. Somewhere within the competing agendas is the beginning of a consciousness that may benefit more than just the person with the podium/platform at that moment. It may take some time and you may not be the first voice on the scene to speak out on a particular issue, but I believe it is worth it.

4. What’s your favourite #TweetLikeAProgressivePatriarch tweet? (Thanks @ThisisLULE)

@LindelwaR “…go do your basic hoe shit disguised as feminism…” #TweetLikeAProgressivePatriarch

I love this one because I’ve heard it before. Taking the ‘hoe’, a woman who is transgressive in society and using her to shame a feminist, another example of a woman transgressive in society. Not far behind is witch  :)

5. What’s your take on sex positivity?

I think sex-positivity is a sub-section of feminism that can be understood as a community of like-minded women for whom sexual expression is the foremost weapon they use against being invisibilised in the world. These women feel safe enough to express themselves and have access to the required platforms and forums. They are also able to wield some degree of privilege that allows for an effective rebuttal to the eventual torrent of toxic slutshaming targeted against them. They use sex as their political tool to destabilise ideas about women and sex that cause repression and violence and this is done from a personal place of comfort. My take is that this is important. It is a component of a larger discussion. No feminist, however, is compelled to share details of their sex lives publically or obliged to share their bodies in any way shape or form that doesn’t agree with their own personal values and boundaries. No feminist is compelled either to conflate sex positivity with personal sexual politics like who to sleep with and why, nor to stand in defence of sexual practices that they don’t believe in which they may feel hurt others.

6. What’s your take on White Feminism?

Here, I’d like to quote something I read a few days ago that stuck with me. It’s from an article written by Alex-Quan in Rookie Mag called ‘Empathy isn’t Everything’: For those living in the margins, empathy arrives—in crumbs—only when someone finds a way to attach a marginal issue to privileged people. We are forced to cater to “relatability” because if the privileged can’t relate to us, then we may as well not exist at all. Our pain draws empathy when we are disembodied and made invisible.

I don’t believe feminism as a movement would be this visible globally if patriarchy did not affect a privileged community, namely White women. This is why issues like intersectionality are so thorny, they seek to address this invisibility of WOC within the main movement so that not only does feminism not only have a White face, it also does not tackle issues primarily affecting White women, neglecting all the other women that get crushed in the pipeline to those ‘white’ issues. Meaning, we acknowledge that you have the lion’s share of the platform, if this movement is really political, you would address that privilege and not centre yourself and your issues to the detriment of the greater population of woman, if we indeed share a humanity and womanhood. How successful that will be remains to be seen. But for one, ‘womanism’ already exists as a cynical reminder that this type of call is a waste of time.

Toni Morrison on feminism in the 70’s sums it up: ‘I used to complain bitterly because white feminists were always having very important meetings, but they were leaving their maids behind!’ This suggests that a simple invitation wouldn’t do, but a re-evaluation of the entire structures.

7. What’s something you wish you were told as a young girl?

That it’s ok to not be liked. I struggled with this idea well into my teenage years. Not to be disliked by just one or two people, but to be roundly disliked. Of course I grew up in the same attention and affection as a reward culture that most of my generation did, and most of my life I was generally popular. Add to that the fact that women are generally taught to be ‘nice’ or accommodating to a fault, it’s no wonder that most people-pleasers tend to be women. But that’s not real life. Shit happens. You won’t die. And life is interesting in that space where who you are isn’t something to repress/hide/modify for others. Find your tribe, even if it is just one other person.

8. Thoughts on body-shaming?

Body shaming is insidious and can infiltrate even the most mentally resilient. Someone showing disgust/disapproval for a vessel you physically occupy can be soul-crushing because it is so non-sensical and cruel. I don’t have tips on how to avoid this because the subliminal messaging is everywhere and influencing people daily but I suggest self-care, which can involve switching off from the world from time to time to remind yourself what you think of yourself. I also suggest surrounding yourself with people who are sensitive to this and can be like a shield when you don’t feel like tackling a person on this issue head-on.

9. Thoughts on transphobia?

My big ah-ha moment was realising that just as men don’t own ‘masculinity’, women don’t own ‘femininity’ and body parts don’t qualify or disqualify. And since these are socialised traits that are encouraged in some and not others, their continued violent regulation serves to prop up the overarching evil that is White Supremacist Capitalist Heteropatriarchy, which is to say, it is to delineate who is to get rights, resources, humanity etc according to how well they fit our sensibilities. There is no world where people do not transgress the social boundaries we think keep us all sane. That world simply does not exist without incredible amounts of violence and silencing, the people that bear the brunt of this see the world most clearly and these are the people we should be listening to, to chart a way forward, they are already living in our actual reality.

10. What’s your take on sexuality?

I think people aren’t as pressed about sexuality as they are about sex first and foremost. That is what is being policed and regulated and it’s seen across the board. One cannot make a conscious choice to engage in so-called ‘taboo sex’ because we still live in a society not much more progressive now than it was when religious texts were written, when it comes to this issue. This can mean for certain bodies: too much sex, too kinky sex, too indiscriminate sex, sex for public consumption, sex for pay etc. I think this is why LGBTQ people are often herded uniformly behind a statement that renders them ‘guiltless’ to our idea of sin. They are pressured to say they are ‘born that way’ to avoid being compared to sex offenders and those who engage in bestiality and other crimes. What if they chose? Does that delegitimise it? Why do consenting adults have to answer to anyone or listen to degrading opinions about their bodies? If I engage in ‘gay’ sex behind closed doors and just never declare it, why am I safer to walk the streets than someone who does this openly? It speaks to a deeply toxic culture around sex and bodies and choices that creates a continuum where a lot of us all fall within the unacceptable cracks, all in order to organise society in a way that is more than archaic, but is deadly.

Check Khanyisile out over here:

Twitter: @khanyisile

Blog: umuntokanje.co.za

My Feminism Looks Like… Cindy van Wyk

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself? 
I’m Cindy van Wyk, a 24-year-old wondrous writing woman slash professional grammar nazi (aka sub editor) slash columnist from Windhoek, Namibia. I have an Honours Degree in English and Print Media and I have plans to pursue a Masters in Creative Writing at some point. (Hopefully before I’m 30!) I’m passionate about literature, love and red wine. I am an eternal bookworm with hopeful romantic tendencies. Obsessed with all things Vin Diesel and Ireland. I blog at www.sugary-oblivion.blogspot.com and can be found on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as Sugary Oblivion.

2. When did you first identify as a feminist?
I think I’ve always been a feminist at heart, but I only found a name for it in my second year of university (I was 20, 21) when I had a class called Literary Theory by the brilliant Selma Ashikuti. Not only did she teach me about feminism as a theory in literature, but she showed me what it meant to be a feminist. She has since become a good friend of mine and she’s one of the women I really look up to.

3. What’s one thing you do to bring feminism to more young girls?

I think that, having some sort of following through Twitter, my blog and my column, it is important for me to show everyone who may be watching that I’m not only a feminist, but that I’m a real, flawed human being with many great parts and some not-so-great parts. I think it’s important to not only preach feminism as a theory, but to live it and to show every young girl out there that the picture she may have had of a bitter, lonely old spinster feminist is not only wrong, but it’s ridiculous. I’m big on practising what you preach, and I think by doing that, I teach people more than academic texts could.

4. What would you recommend a young feminist does?
Read, read, read. If there’s a feminist you look up to, if there’s something you’re not sure about, if there’s things you don’t understand, read up on it. It is so important for young feminists – whether they be men or women – to educate themselves not only on feminism, but why we need feminism as much as we need oxygen.

5. What is your take on pornography?
To be honest, I didn’t really think twice about pornography and how it extorts women until I read an article about how women in the porn industry are treated. I’m not against pornography as a whole per se, but at the moment, with the industry being run by patriarchal men who oppress and extort women, watching/using porn does not sit well with me. I’ve found that the amount of ‘feminist-friendly’ porn is very, very limited, but it’s out there, especially if you’re into erotica.

6. What’s your take on sex positivity?
Growing up, it was drilled into our heads that women must be pure and chaste in order to be deemed worthy of love. I’ve long disposed of this as absolute bullshit, but I’m still unlearning the idea of body counts and that being attached to your worth. I do however believe that women should be able to have the sex they want to have without being shamed for it. Sometimes I still struggle to apply this to myself, but being part of a Twitter community where women speak openly and honestly about sex and sexuality helps a lot. As long as you’re having safe sex in a healthy environment that makes you feel loved/appreciated/cherished/wanted, I’m all for it.

7. What is a problem that affects women in your country the most?
In Namibia, many, many women have been brutally murdered by their significant others. This is something the media has dubbed ‘passion killings’, and has been ravaging the women of my country for years. The misconception that women belong to their men is still very rampant in this country, and alcohol abuse is rife as well. Women here are often financially dependent on men, and therefore tolerate abuse for years until the men kill them in the end. It’s heartbreaking.

8. How important is self-care to you? What does it involve for you?

Self-care is easily one of the most important things to me. It involves consciously being kind to myself, taking care of myself and placing my own needs above that of anyone else as far as possible. It often means retreating into myself and my books for a while, putting time and effort into my appearance (because when I look good, I feel good) and sometimes, it also means not letting myself wallow or over-think. To me, self-care can be as simple as buying a nice shampoo, to spending a lot of money on myself in order to feel as loved and cherished as I want and need to feel.

9. Thoughts on body-shaming?

This is a topic I’m very passionate about, having done my final year research project on body shaming in the Namibian media and the effects it has on young girls and women in particular. It’s so easy for us to automatically revert to body shaming. Body shaming is not only fat shaming or skinny shaming, but ranges from penis shaming to hair shaming (towards men who experience early balding, etc.). It is very, very important for us to keep putting it into the universe that your body is beautiful, no matter what it looks like, and that you, in your entirety, are worthy of love, regardless of what you look like. The body is a wonder but it is not the beginning and end of you as a person and we need to reiterate that as many times as necessary. Every body (and everybody) is worthy of love, acceptance and kindness. And often, it starts with us, with the way we speak to ourselves, the way we treat our own bodies, the thoughts we have about ourselves. That’s where we need to make the change.

10. What one word describes you as a Feminist?
Fierce.

Swoon over Cindy here:

Blog: www.sugary-oblivion.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SugaryOblivion

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sugaryoblivion?_rdr

Instagram: https://instagram.com/sugaryoblivion/

My Feminism Looks Like… Tasha

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I always find this to be a rather difficult question to answer. I’d rather people tell me what they specifically want to know about me and I provide them with the relevant information. I guess the basics are that I am African, a woman, a lawyer who loves books and solitude. And a feminist.

2. How do you answer people when they say feminism is a Western idea?

 I think “feminism” the word is obviously a western idea but that’s it. The ideas that form feminist politics, the desire to be treated and respected as the equals we are, is something that I am absolutely sure is universal. If the dominant global lingua francawere Asian or African etc then we would be referring to feminism by a word in that language but the issues involved would remain the same. The idea that it is only western women who desire equality and that they have “corrupted” the rest of us into desiring it too is absurd. No one wants to be seen and treated as a lesser form of human or not human at all regardless of where they are from. Not that I would say all that. I’d probably just go with “don’t be stupid.”

3. When did you first identify as a feminist?

I don’t remember. I think my feminist identity has been forming since before a time when I started developing clear memories. I grew up around a lot of boys and, like most women, I grew up being told what I should do and what I couldn’t do based on my assigned gender but there was never a time when it ever made sense to me and there was never a time when I thought it appropriate to just go with the flow. Being a girl was never a good enough reason to do or not do anything as far as I have always been concerned and I have always identified as someone who rejected the idea of being any particular way because I own a vagina. I only came to understand that my way of seeing things lined up with feminism in the last 7 or so years so I would say sometime during that period is when I adopted the word “feminist” as a descriptor but only because I wasn’t fully aware of it, not because I ever disagreed with what it represents.

4. What’s something amazing that women in your country are doing for themselves?

There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit amongst Malawian women. I admire that. I think it’s important that women find ways to support themselves and make themselves less financially dependent on men as well as to make significant contributions to their families’ survival. Right now there’s this “village banking” thing that’s become really popular. It basically involves group of women getting together and contributing a set amount of money each month to the group. Each month one woman in the group takes the entire amount as a loan and puts it to use to start or boost a business. I’m not sure of the exact details of how it all works but that’s the basic idea. I think it’s a great way for women to support each other and to find other sources of income outside of predatory financial insitutions. In the current climate money is power and it’s important that women have ways to help each other gain some of that power.

5. Do you have a favourite non-problematic Black man?                                                               

Jesse Williams

6. How do you usually respond when people ask why feminists are so angry?

That we have every right and reason to be.

7. What’s your go-to answer when people say that feminism is out to get men?

My “go-to” answer is that no it isn’t because it really isn’t as far as individual men go. However in the wider scheme of things I think that is exactly what feminism is about. We are out to get men insofar as “man” is the public face of oppressive systems. We want to dismantle and burn to ashes the structures that make men and manhood and masculinity as we know them in today’s societies the sources of suffering and oppression for both men and women. As long as “man” remains a universal signifier of a “better, stronger, more intelligent, higher-earning, more qualified to be the leader etc” specimen as opposed to just “an adult male human” then yes, feminism is out to get men.

8. Who’s your favourite Black woman artist? 

Beyonce obviously lol. Aside from blessing us with Crazy In Love, Get Me Bodied and Blue Ivy, I admire her and also can relate to her from watching her journey from the slut shaming “Nasty put your clothes on” brand of superficial girl power to a more grown up but still growing brand of feminism. It’s a journey that I think most of us who were conditioned to view girlhood and womanhood a certain way have been through even though many like to pretend that they were born as perfect feminists and judge others on that basis. I admire her decision to identify and stand with feminism while other famous women were still too concerned with how uttering that word might affect their coins and were identifying as “humanist” instead.

9. What’s something that you’re still navigating your way in?

Understanding trans issues. Coming from a community (Malawi) where trans people are invisible and seemingly non-existent and experiencing other communities (mainly South Africa) where they are nearly as invisible and when not invisible regarded as a joke my awareness and understanding of all the relevant issues was virtually non-existent until the past couple of years. I’m working through getting rid of the transphobic conditioning which I still find surfacing from time to time.

10. What’s an issue in your country that you believe needs more attention?

Malawi needs to have legislation that decisively criminalizes marital rape. There was an unsuccessful push for it a few years ago which seemed to fail on pseudo-religious grounds (ie a wife must submit to her husband blah blah blah and other such nonsense.) I think the fact that legislators continue to at best ignore the issue and at worst refuse to address it is indicative of the idea that a woman, once married, ceases to be an independent individual (if she ever was one) and now becomes the property of her husband so much so that the crime of rape cannot even refer to her.

An end note…

One piece of advice that I would extend to African feminists is that it is important to understand your own struggle and to stand in your own truth. Inasmuch as it’s important to be intersectional and seek understanding of issues that other groups outside of those you identify with go through don’t ever let anyone make you feel as though what you have gone through is a lesser struggle or deserving of less attention, understanding and respect. As African women, we can often find our voices being drowned out even in activist spaces both on and off social media. It’s important for us to take a stand and refuse to have our issues, our histories and our journeys disrespected and disregarded. We matter.

Catch some of Tasha’s godly shade over here:

Twitter

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Adwoa

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

Name is Adwoa, I am Ghanaian and I feast on the elixir of life: the souls of bigots. It nourishes me. Makes my hair thicker, skin sleeker, tongue sharper and pussy finer. I run the blog ghanafeminism.com and I’m a recent law school graduate. My only life goal is to reduce human suffering while maintaining personal happiness.

2. Who’s your favourite feminist?

My favorite feminist differs depending on how I feel on that day. Today it is former head of state of Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara. Because Sankara did what no head of state has ever done, center women’s liberation as a foundational and necessary part of Burkina equity.

3. What is your take on pornography?

I support sex work. And I acknowledge the unjust economic institutions, that monopolize resources in ruling class men’s hands, such that their sexual desires are fulfilled with the ability to offer disadvantaged people money. Additionally, pornography normalizes and sexualizes racist violence against women.

4. What’s your take on sex positivity?

Pussy on fleek.

5. How do you usually respond when people ask why feminists are so angry?

When you tell oppressed people not to be angry, you dehumanize them. You essentially argue that we should accept our subordinate social position with grace. Women are violated intimately by those who are socialized to view our bodies as objects for their fulfillment, systematically by unjust institutions that rob us of social, cultural, political, economic and sexual equity. Yes feminists are angry, and we are righteously so.

6. Thoughts on body-shaming?

“I am upset that your body doesn’t look like I desire. So I seek to demean you” If you don’t cater to your own ashy genitals

7. Thoughts on transphobia?

Transphobia kills. It destroys, it is cholera inducing putrid gutter water personified.

8. If you had to spend your life doing a job that advances feminism what would it be?

Teacher and lawyer.

9. What one word describes you as a Feminist?

Glitter pussy (two words because sometimes your identity transcends the set boundaries)

10. Would your country be receptive to a Feminist political party?

No, and that’s why we need one.

Adwoa spends most of her days chatting about Feminism in Ghana over here:

Personal Twitter

Ghanaian Feminism Twitter

Blog

Ottilia Anna Maunganidze

1. Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I am a passionate human rights advocate, researcher and strategist. I’m a happy-go-lucky type constantly trying to make sense of the world. A pragmatic idealist, I hope for a better world, but know that that requires me and others to put in the work. I love coffee, gelato, long walks to nowhere, traveling across Africa, cheese, chats and my couch.

I consider myself a third culture “kid” (I’ll be 21 ’til I can’t pass it off any longer) with social and cultural influences from Zimbabwe, Switzerland, France, South Africa and dribblings of England. I am, however, above all, an African. A passionate one at that.

2. What do you have to say to men who’d like be feminist “allies”?

First, I reject reference to “allies” and the gendered binary that it is based on. To me, everyone (regardless of their sex and/or gender) should be a feminist. Feminism for me is more than just a movement for the empowerment and emancipation of “women.” Men should not be allies they should be feminists.

3. What would you recommend a young feminist does?

Just be.

4. If you could fill up your day with things you love to do, what would you do?

There are not enough hours in a day. I would surround myself with the people I love and who love me – a day of laughter, long conversations about nothing and everything, some tipple and food (If this could all happen on a beach in Sierra Leone, the better!). The day would end with me curled up on the couch, a good book in hand. But then tomorrow… tomorrow would be different.

5. Are you an intersectional feminist?

Am I a feminist?

6. Who is your go-to inspirational African woman?

My mother.

7. What advice would you give others on being more verbal and active in social issues?

If you care about it, speak up, do something. Don’t shy away from addressing social issues and don’t shirk your responsibility, because “I’m not good at this” or “I’m not an activist.” We are all activists in our own different and little way.

8. How do you usually respond when people ask why feminists are so angry?

“Why are you so ignorant?”

9. What’s your favourite book by a black woman author?

I can’t pick one. I am in awe of the talent that African women authors have. The depth of their artistry amazes me. Currently on my shelf waiting for a second read are:

  • Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go
  • Tsitsi Dangarembgwa’s Nervous Conditions
  • NoViolet Bulawayo’s We need new names
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a yellow sun

10. What’s something you wish you were told as a young girl?

You are more powerful than you know.

11. What’s your favourite quote?

“I sit astride life like a bad rider on a horse. I only owe it to the horse’s good nature that I am not thrown off at this very moment.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

She’s outchea:

Twitter handle@MaS1banda

Personal bloglawlifeleanings.com 

Other bloghttp://conversationzimbabwe.wordpress.com