Thursday, March 13, 2008

African Feminism

This week we've been reading and discussing African feminisms. I've really enjoyed the discussions and readings so far, partially because I compared African feminisms to western feminisms for my LCCT research paper when I was in Tanzania, and partially because it has made me rethink and question some of my definitions.

One particular aspect of the reading that I enjoyed was the notion of sisterhood, and how sisterhood is a western metaphor for feminism. In African feminisms, the metaphor that is used more often is motherhood. At first I didn't really understand this. But then one of the readings explained that in western nuclear family structure, sisterhood means alliances against the oppression of the father because the mother is aligned with the father. In African contexts, co-mothering and motherhood is a shared experience by many women.

Personally, the concept of motherhood, the identity of mother has never been appealing to me. In fact, the idea of being a mother forces me to be think too fully in the female body that I don't like having. But I understand how the rhetoric of motherhood can be powerful.

Here I think the concept of intellectual imperialism is useful, because it shows how western feminism has attempted to transcribe western feminist ideas onto other contexts. It's not useful for building coalition between international feminist movements, and we need to recognize that it happens in order to deconstruct and then rebuild the relationships between western and non-western feminists. Along with this is remembering that what western feminists care about and how western feminists construct gender relations is very different than how gender is constructed in the rest of the world.

No comments: