Browsing by Author "Lorenz, Nicole"
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- ItemResponses by black women to race and gender dynamics under South African Apartheid with special reference to the Black Consciousness Movement(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2002-03) Lorenz, Nicole; Ehlers, Anton; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences. Dept. of History.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Black women's oppression under apartheid was based on four interacting forces: race, class, gender and nationality. Although this rendered their status in both feminist and anti-apartheid policies unique, it was never addressed as such. The national liberation movement defined women's role in the struggle in male dominated terms and did not acknowledge 'gender' as a legitimate political issue until the 1980s. There were no official restrictions that impeded women's participation in national politics. It was rather the failure of parties to adequately address their social disabilities resulting from legal minority, geographical isolation and social marginalisation, that prevented women from participating on an equal level with men. The focus on women as 'significant others', as supportive mothers and wives, largely determined black women's self-perception and political consciousness. The growth of anti-apartheid movements principally went along with new formations of women's organisations. Gender struggles, however, appeared to be absent, since women's protests were indistinguishably bound up with other socio-political issues. Women's commitment to define themselves solely within the context of national liberation was highlighted in the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM), which called upon blacks to examine their psychological and physical oppression and to realise the power of self-definition. Although women took a far more assertive stance toward their subjugation as blacks, they entirely ignored the masculine nature of the language and ideological outlook of Black Consciousness (BC). BC writers tended to romanticise community life and gender relations, ignoring the actual dynamics of gender relations amongst blacks, thus reinforcing traditional hierarchical structures. Women participating in the upper ranks of the BCM saw their emancipation in terms of becoming 'honorary men.' Feminist movements taking place in the Western world at that time were overtly rejected by both men and women in South Africa. Women's entry into the public sphere of industrial production and national politics did not ineluctably lead to their emancipation. Nor had these steps been motivated by the sought for liberation from domesticity and traditional gender relations. It was a reaction to the way in which apartheid eroded their traditional solidity. Women's protest movements showed highly conservative features, as they affirmed obligations traditionally assigned to them as women and aggressively utilised entrenched stereotypes to tackle social injustice. Black women were not fighting for their personal rights as women but for their rights as mothers. The failure of . mainstream feminism to adequately address the nexus of race, class and gender which renders women's oppression in Third World societies, led to the acceptance of womanism. The latter Stellenbosch University http://scholar.sun.ac.za emerged in the late 1970s, gained momentum in the 1980s, and was closely related to both BC and Black Feminism. It seeks to re-define black women's social status and roles in positive and exclusively black terms, thereby frequently naturalising stereotypical definitions of femininity. Emphasising black women's defiant engagement with white racism, it identifies motherhood and wifehood in political terms. Due to its inclusive approach, however, womanism restrains from elaborating definite theories and political programmes.