Accepted paper:

"F" the word: one African's critique of feminism


Charlenne Tatenda Muranda (University of South Africa)

Paper short abstract:

The Global imagination has been seduced by Feminist ideology. In Africa feminism has been appropriated and naturalized with little regard to indigenous modes of being. This paper critiques universalism &traveling ideologies.Instead presenting womanism as an alternative framework for African feminism

Paper long abstract:

The global feminist movement is undoubtedly experiencing a historical moment. Now, more than ever, feminism and feminist principles have become mainstream. Worldwide more people have begun to identify as feminist irrespective of their embodied identity structures. In fact, the statement " I am a feminist" has become as much a form of weaponized identity as it is an indication of an allegiance to a political ideology.In the West this has produced divisive societal ruptures. Yet, in spite of this, Africans have appropriated and naturalized the ideology in its various manifestations. Behind this phenomenon might be the universal appeal of feminist rhetoric. Particularly its promise to dismantle patriarchal structures (arguably established and entrenched by the colonial mission) and its potential impact for an individual's journey(s) of auto-decolonization. However, how compatible is this ideology with notions of self and society in Africa where African humanism or "ubuntu", as it is known in South Africa, is the primary organizing principle? Where does rabid individualism intersect with communitarian values and what does an "us against them" mentality mean for the future of African societies? This paper unpacks some of the inherited and synthesized tenets of modern African feminist ideology in light of notions of self and society emerging from African knowledge systems. It critiques the idea of universalism and travelling terms. Ultimately proposing womanism as a more authentic, accessible, intuitive and sustainable social justice framework for responding to and transforming the lives of African individuals and communities as a whole.

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