4 August 2014

South Africa: Women's Month - Women's Bodies As a Landscape of Trauma


Forget the Department of Arts and Culture's #WearADoek campaign for Women's Month. It is the simplicity of a young woman who stripped naked and stood quietly below the six-metre-high bronze statue of Nelson Mandela in Sandton last week who captured local imagination.

Braveheart, as the woman has been named, has in some way enabled women to "re-embody" our bodies in a space that is generally hostile, an issue which US feminist and activist Eve Ensler, currently in South Africa, has made her life's work. By MARIANNE THAMM.

Two days before 1 August, the start of Women's Month in South Africa, a young and as of yet unknown woman in Johannesburg performed a gesture so profound and so simple that it has since come to embody much of that which is left unspoken or which is "unspeakable" when it comes to women and violence in South Africa.

Around lunchtime on Tuesday, 31 July, the woman strode across Mandela Square, removed her clothing and stood naked for a few minutes beneath the enormous bronze statue of a dancing Mandela. From a subsequent video that was recorded on a phone (and if one can ignore the cat calls and inane laugher of those ...

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