The invention of women
I'm reading Prof Oyeronke Oyewumi's book The invention of women: making an African sense of Western Gender Discourses after watching the conversation she had with Prof Zine Magubane at Rhodes University last month. I haven't finished the book. In fact, I'm still reading the first chapter and I'm rethinking so many things. I have a bad habit of reading more than one book concurrently. In the past few weeks I've been dipping in and out of Toni Morrison's Mercy and the collection of her essays (which I'm finding very difficult to grasp), I just finished Buchi Emecheta's Second-Class citizen (which just about broke my heart) and The diary of Maria Tholo (a collection of Maria Tholo's diary entries during 1976 collected by Carol Hermer), and now I have added Oyewumi's book.
This repertoire of titles is not random. I'm quite intent on reading work by black women and work that reflects the experiences of black women. In a world that doesn't affirm or center the existence of women who look like me I find I still have to do the homework myself with the help of conversations with friends and mothers. In a world that refuses to hear and accept that whiteness is still the norm and white, male representation is so dominant, it becomes even harder to explain why my homework is so important: to me and for me. It's a way I can put myself together and remind myself I am not crazy. I also find that apart from conversations with my black girlfriends, I do not have spaces that regularly affirm my existence in a positive way. I don’t know what these spaces would look like. I find myself thinking about my mother’s experience with umanyano: a weekly meeting affirming her beliefs but also a hurtful space when she didn’t abide by the rules. I also find I’m thinking a lot about my experiences in the black Methodist church which built a strong group identity in comparison to my school experience which was an assimilationist project rather than affirmation for the black girl.
So in the midst of this internal work and life that I am doing I stumble upon the revamped version of Women24: http://www.w24.co.za/. This was followed by a garbled Facebook post:
I don’t know what I was expecting. In fact, I had no expectations at all just a silent hope that when Women24 says it’s revamping the website, the website will reflect some—not all—of the experiences and questions I have as a black woman. But instead Women24 created another platform dominated by middle class, white women with smatterings of black women in order to tick the diversity box. No complexity. I understand Women24 for what it is: it’s about consumption and recreating a particular kind of white, heteronormative womanhood.
Of course I should quit complaining: why not look a little closer on the internet. I know there are other websites such as Crunkfeminist and Jezebel. Is there anything Afrocentric? If there isn’t what would it look like? An African City comes to mind: a mimicry of white womanhood by black women. There’s a plural experience of what it means to be a black woman. I’m not looking for a mirror image of myself and my friends when I go onto the internet but I’m constantly surprised by how absent our experiences are.
So I took to google and searched "African feminist blog" and this is what I found: http://www.msafropolitan.com/