I remember reading an article by Milisuthando Bongela in the May 2017 issue of Destiny Magazine titled “In Praise of Feminism”. I admit that just like the author, I once had a misguided understanding of what feminism really is. Growing up I somehow related feminism with images of male-bashing, angry women who very seldom experienced vulnerability and who most certainly did not find much joy in being in intimate relationships with the opposite sex in the same manner that many “normal” women in society did. That was of course until I truly started to experience and engage with the world, reflecting on where and who I was as an individual in a society that already had a script of who I ought to be as a young black South African female.
Perhaps one of the most important realisations that I made was how many women have internalised this script, believing it to be true and natural and not really understanding how it impacts how we show up in the world, how we show up for others and most importantly how we show up for ourselves. I am reminded of Karl Marx’s theory of Alienation which expresses how the features of society, even though they seem natural and self-regulating, were created by past human actions. In as much as we are shaped by society, we have the ability and power to in turn also shape society.
As women we need to first truly start seeing and thinking of ourselves outside the confines of societal expectations and allow this thinking to effect positive and purposeful change. Yes, it is a fact that women are socially, politically and economically underrepresented and this is largely due to a long history of patriarchy and devaluation of women. But in today’s 21st century where we see women taking on leadership roles in various industries and others becoming successful entrepreneurs, many women still see themselves through the lenses which devalues their abilities and contribution to society. Nelson Mandela, in The Long Walk to Freedom, wrote “blacks must first liberate themselves from the sense of psychological inferiority”. Women in general and black women in particular need to liberate themselves from a sense of psychological inferiority. An inferiority that relates to our capabilities, value and overall existence. Yes, you can be a mother, wife and run an empire at the same. These things do not need to be mutually exclusive. Yes, you can choose to have a family later in life or choose not to have children at all. Your value and contribution to society does not diminish.
I urge us as women to not only recognise our power but also learn to stand in it. Feminism, I believe, starts with knowing and believing that we as women are valuable, powerful, talented and have a purpose. And then in truly knowing and believing this, creating platforms through which to fight for and establish equal opportunities of active engagement in an unequal society. In the words of Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie…We Should All Be Feminists!
Article image courtesy of: https://www.cellsdividing.com
About the Writer: Zamakhoza Khoza
Zamakhoza Khoza is a Human Resource specialist with a background in Psychology and Branding. She currently resides in Durban. One of her greatest passions, along with writing, is helping people reach their true potential through creation of a positive self-concept. She regards herself as an open-minded student of life.