13 March 2018

South Africa: Book Extract - Front-Line Feminism in the Twenty-First Century


In a chapter of a new book, Feminism Is: South Africans Speak their Truth (Kwela Books), LARISSA KLAZINGA tackles what she terms front-line feminism by examining the rise of Jacob Zuma.

Feminism in the twenty-first century is not for the faint of heart: it's a blood sport, and to survive you need a tribe you'd take a bullet for to have your back. Solitary keyboard feminism has its place in the ivory towers of the world, but over the past decade, anti-gender-based-violence activists have evolved a living, breathing front-line feminism characterised by fierce women meeting the worst of state patriarchy head-on together.

To really understand the rise of what I'd call 'front-line feminism', let us examine the rise of Jacob Zuma, and unpack the feminist resistance to his ascendance and the reactionary tide that helped him retain power.

The Zuma odyssey began during the then-Deputy President's rape trial in 2006. The One in Nine Campaign was formed to support the complainant Fezeka Kuzwayo against the thuggery of the African National Congress (ANC), bent on backing-up its hyper-masculine, paleo-traditionalist leader. As the trial commenced, a small group of activists, mostly friends, mostly queer, took up position across the road from thousands...

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