This morning I’m sitting with a heavy heart.
years months weeks have been full of news that would make even the unobservant reader realise that South Africa is not a country for women. On paper we are equal. Yet, in the day to day, we are living with the constant threat that we will become the victim of violence if we have not already become one.
I don’t believe we’re hearing more about this just because it’s women’s month, and if women’s month is just an opportunity for everyone to remind us of how truly traumatic and tiring it is to be a woman in this country then I’d really like us to forget about women’s month altogether.
As a society at large, South Africa is fine with women’s suffering.
In the past 24 hours, three stories that would have other countries starting commissions of enquiry and plugging resources into social crime prevention will simply disappear by the end of the week amidst the many other stories of violence against women. I don’t want these stories to disappear.
One – almost half of Khayelitsha school learners have experienced sexual violence and girls were more likely than boys to report abuse. Two – a young woman who reported her rape to Rhodes University committed suicide before returning to campus for further discussions following her report of the rape on July 30th. The alleged rapist was only suspended this morning according to a press release sent by the university. Three – police charge protestors raising awareness about violence against women because they demanded that the President of the country they
live survive in listen to them and their demands.
To be born a girl in this country and make it to your old age unharmed is a statistical improbability. The definition of female might as well be ‘afraid.’
Are you fine with this? I can’t be.
So what are we going to do about it?
This year’s Open Book Festival in Cape Town has, as usual, an amazing line up of writers and public intellectuals coming together to talk about literature, politics, and many other things. The festival takes place from 5 – 9 September in Cape Town.
This year the Open Book Festival team has given amazing support to Feminism Is, and has five events scheduled around the book, as well as many others with a feminist focus.
|20.00 – 21.00
||Feminism Is: Pumla Gqola, Dela Gwala and Thembekile Mahlaba explore their journeys to feminism and answer FAQs in the company of Sara-Jayne King
|16.00 – 17.30
||Feminism Is: Listening Room: We invite all persons of trans experience and/or those who identify as women/womxn to share personal experiences that shape their feminist identities in a safe and respectful space. Please keep contributions to a maximum of 5 minutes to allow as many voices to be heard as possible. Hosted by Joy Watson with contributions from Janine Adams, Kit Beukes, Michelle Hattingh and Ming-Cheau Lin and Tshepiso Mashinini.
|14.00 – 15.00
||Feminism Is: Body Politics: Anna Dahlqvist, Melanie Judge and Tlaleng Mofokeng speak to Joy Watson about taking control in the context of patriarchy
|18.00 – 19.00
||Feminism Is: Talking Feminism: B Camminga, Helen Moffett and Tlaleng Mofokeng explore divisions and how they can stand in the way of feminist conversations in the company of Yaliwe Clarke
|12.00 – 13.00
||Feminism Is: Reflections: Jen Thorpe wraps up the series of ‘Feminism Is’ events and asks Pumla Gqola, Haji Mohamed Dawjee and Nwabisa Mda to share their thoughts on SA feminism today
Check out the full programme here for more details on other amazing feminist events.
Following incredible marches all over South Africa this month I’m excited to let you know that I have an essay in a forthcoming collection – Nasty Women Talk Back: Feminist Essays on the Global Women’s Marches edited by Joy Watson and Amanda Gouws.
The collection will launch at the Open Book Festival on 6 September at 8pm at the Fugard. Get tickets here
I’m really excited to be heading to Franschhoek Literary Festival this weekend. I’ve been to the festival a few times, but this will be the first time I’ll be on a panel – and what an exciting group of women I’ll be on it with. Come through
- Friday 18 May
- Travellers Lodge
- Feminism in 2018
Mohale Mashigo, author of the UJ Debut prizewinning The Yearning will be leading the panel. She’s also an award winning singer-songwriter. Check out more about her, here or on Twitter @BlckPorcelain
Helen Moffet is a poet (see here and here), environmentalist, editor, and writer. She has helped tons of South African writers to get their manuscripts into tip-top shape, whilst winning poetry awards, and tweeting a storm. Find out more about her via her website, or follow her on Twitter @Heckitty
Last but not least, Tshegofatso Senne is a writer, digital content creator, and speaker. Her website is so beautiful, and she’s got links to all her writing there. She also makes stationery!! Find out more about her here and follow her on Twitter @MbongoMuffin
Get tickets via Webtickets!
Last week I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Fadiyah Rabin of UCT her campus. She asked me some real tough-ones and a few fun ones. Check out the interview here
Hugely exciting news! A collection of feminist essays that I worked on and edited last year will be released this February, published by Kwela Books.
The collection was an absolute dream to work on, with submissions from 31 feminists living in South Africa. I worked with the incredible all-women team at Kwela to get the book out there, and the lovely Helen Moffett to get the essays into tip-top shape. This is a collection that will blow you away for its clarity of thought and writing and its contemporary relevance. It explores themes as wide-ranging as motherhood, joy, feminist inclusions and inclusions, language, equality, climate change, rage, and feminist inspiration.
I started editing this collection in March 2018 at the Vermont Studio Centre residency, giving me some much-needed space to focus. I must thank everyone who supported my residency in France where I did a huge amount of work on this collection, including all the individual donors in my crowdfunding campaign, and the French Consulate in Cape Town. Without this financial support for my writing, collections like this wouldn’t be possible.
The book will be released late February 2018 and will be launched on 13 March 2018 at the Book Lounge in Cape Town, with launches in KZN and Gauteng to follow later in March. In the meantime, you can contact your favourite good bookstore in South Africa to pre-order. An e-book version will be available too!