– not challenging a sexist EFF leader confirms agreement-
Cheris Kramarae reminds us ‘feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings’. This fundamental claim is perhaps lost, as it appears the SA feminists in a growing sense attest an enclave of convenient sisterhood. The oxford dictionary defines ‘a feminist’ simply as ‘an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women’. Yet we also know that the term ‘feminist’ remains contentious. Those who know argue such contention on an axis of two critical aspects for it partly connotes a militancy of an ‘anti-men’ stance and also its association with elite groups of women.
Recently the EFF leader Julius Malema proved bold to go public with a salacious claim of Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister of Water and Sanitation, as controlled by a younger male, colloquially referred in claim of a Ben 10, with whom she shares an intimate relationship. The claims levelled are that the chairperson of the Central Energy Fund controls the department in its expenditure and therefore corruption is rampant. The gist of Malema’s untested allegation is Mokonyane is a philandering corrupt minister. It is here that her identity in sisterhood is conveniently sacrificed at the altar of her political association.
I have previously noted in SA there is a general reluctance to call the EFF leader Julius Malema to order on the part of opposition parties, vocal religious leaders, public intellectuals, progressive civil society formations, foundations and individuals of so called standing in society. To this group one must now add the feminists both public and private.
We not sure if the tactics of personal attack employed by Malema intimidates the vocal feminists. Perhaps on another level their collective hate for the political leadership of the ANC in agreement with Malema renders them compromised to condemn his misogynist attacks.
What our feminists heard?
Our feminists it appears only heard the word corruption; they heard a government minister in an ANC led government in corruption. They heard a so-called Jacob Zuma defender as our daily scripted narrative leads, caught in corruption. They heard a member of the ANCWL that irritating body is caught.
What did our feminists not hear?
What our feminists failed to hear was the claim that a man controls a woman. They failed to hear a matured woman who has held several political and administrative offices among others the Gauteng Province premiership, as incompetent to lead because she in this season is gullible and led by a man her junior. The feminists failed to hear the stereotyping of a sister who with this claim is rendered incapable to lead because she arrived in her current stand in society by favours to a worshipped male organ.
Is it therefore strange that not one of the usually vocal feminists across the apartheid race classification and identify configuration rose to publicly and directly condemn the attack on Nomvula Mokonyane in identity of sisterhood?
Perhaps the feminists forgot the poignant words of Simone de Beauvoir as she unequivocally declares, “I am too intelligent, too demanding, and too resourceful for anyone to be able to take charge of me entirely. No one knows me or loves me completely. I have only myself.”
It appears that it is more important to constrict Nomvula Mokonyane, to the narrow one-dimensional political persona for the totality of her humanity. Her identity as human being is therefore made subservient to her being an assumed political enemy by implication a corrupt foe.
Interpreting the pervasive silence of the feminists leads one to conclude, Mokonyane deserves every insult, assault, and denigration on her character as meted out by a clear chauvinist. She is denied her identity of sisterhood. –An identity obliterated because the elites have carte blanche on denying those it disagree with on a political level. The agreed silence not to reprimand and call out this convenient sexist attack on a fellow sister is a loud amen to the attackers vitriol.
Our feminists remained neutral when Elie Wiesel, reminded us “We must take sides, Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
The feminists usually decipher attacks on a common sisterhood, until you bring the dynamic reality of our scripted party and pseudo party politics into consideration. They therefore appear exposed not to discern a naked attack on a fellow sister by a male chauvinist-politician who leads the EFF.
I do not see our feminists writing opinion pieces or attempting to engage objectively in analysis on the EFF leader as he abuses fellow sisters in the ilk of Mokonyane and Mbete at the hand of his maleness. They won’t defend Nomvula’s identity as a sister because their hate for the party, “camp” faction she represents blinds them not to see this vicious attack on her character.
I thought the women who protested at the announcement of the August 2016 Municipal election results in the name of the late Fezekile ‘Kwesi Kuzwayo would equally have their placards on display in expressing their displeasure at the abuse of a fellow older sister. I expected them to say unequivocally to the EFF leader, not in our name. Certainly Kwesi cannot be used to condemn one politician in celebration of another who is leads this attack on a fellow sister.
This duality of interpretation of the emancipation of women lends itself to a convenient expression in South Africa as shaded by nothing but politics.
Perhaps it is time to question why we take the vocal feminists serious. My discovery of the feminists leads me to conclude:
The vocal feminists often speak as if mandated by the masses of women of South Africa. From their class disposition they assume a natural custodianship for the cause of women. This attitude confirms the assumption that it is the elites that know the cause, understand the plight, and have the solutions for the cause.
Many of them are feminists in sheer hate of males. This male hate laced analysis often results in feminists proving intolerant of fellow feminists from the male side.
Some are quick to cry foul in victimhood and seldom are willing to engage as equals. Others theorize on the complexities of the feminist cause, and prove only willing to go to some level to realise the aims of the cause, but out of their economic comfort never embrace the totality of the cause for which many had laid down their lives.
I still hold the emancipation of women warrants the active participation of man as counterparts as we together give content to a non-sexist society.
The convenient silence of feminists in not addressing the misogyny of a Julius Malema is therefore a direct indictment to our constitution that recognises South Africa as a country that works for a non-racial, non-sexist, and democratic paradigm.
We may therefore conclude that South African feminists are perhaps draped in convenient kaftans of choice as to when to make the cause of a common sisterhood count.
Clyde N.S. Ramalaine