Its starting!

25 March 2004

Anyone who has been involved in SA politics knows that sexism is par for the course. As I recall, the ANC only formally put equality for women in its programme in 1989, and while we saw a flurry of discussion in the post-1990 period which led to gender issues getting a higher priority, post-1994 we have seen them fade into the background again – on the one hand, they get incorporated into the oh-so-civil society of human rights NGOs, and on the other hand they get sidelined in the ‘urgent struggle’ of the new social movements.

So, women, you have to wait, it seems! (You have to wait while you get sidelined, maligned, beaten and abused.)

Meanwhile, everyone who has been part of the ‘new social movements’ post-1994 (really, post-1999, but that’s another story) knows that women are the backbone of these movements. And these same women are used and thrown away when they become ‘troublesome’. Anyway, finally some people are starting to talk about it, like Dawn in her blog. And look out for Rebecca’s paper when it comes out (I’ll post a link then) – it is due to be published by the CCS. Oh, and hopefully I’ll say something sensible about women’s position in township life in my research report (which is taking far too long to write!). This is great, but a bit scary as well, since talking about the fucked up way that women are treated is seen as breaking ranks (and beating your girlfriend, who is also a comrade, isn’t breaking ranks?!).

Anyway, I like Dawn’s practical suggestions of what to do. Exactly! Its about this stuff, as Deleuze said “I mean, we say ‘human rights’, but in the end, that’s a party line for intellectuals, and for odious intellectuals, and for intellectuals without any ideas of their own. Right off the bat, I’ve noticed that these declarations of human rights are never done by way of the people that are primarily concerned…” Listen, learn, and then speak up, act out.

None of the people talking about this gender shit are “stars” of the movement… if you read Patrick Bond or Ashwin Desai, or listen to Trevor Ngwane, or any of the other “big names”, you don’t hear these problems being talked about. I guess that also makes us nervous to speak out, but then as the Zaps say: “We are quite ordinary people, that is to say rebels.”

As the title says… its starting. May it never end!

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