Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 2

womanhood Related Abstracts

2 Representation of Female Experiences by Upcoming African Women Writers: A Case Study of Three Post-2000 South African Narratives

Authors: Liberty Takudzwa Nyete


This paper examines the feminine representation of women’s experiences in relation to womanhood as depicted by selected three South African female authors:. The study examines the challenges, difficulties and strategies used by various female characters’ to deal with situations in a typical apartheid and post-apartheid society. It also explores the way in which gender, race and class discourses are treated in the selected texts. The three authors, born and bred at the peak of the anti-apartheid movement and women’s protest against patriarchy, witnessed the effects of apartheid on both their families and societies at large which could perhaps have influenced their writing. The study is informed by both the feminist and womanist ideologies postulated by different theorists. In particular, the study of Not Woman Enough considers issues of motherhood, womanhood and racism; while that of Shameless focuses on the importance of women’s narration of their own stories, sexuality and racism; and the depiction of sexual violence, class, and women’s roles in the fight against oppression is explored with regard to This Book Betrays My Brother. Thus, the study concludes on the social makeovers that include women in all the spheres of life, such as education and the economy, which were largely dominated by men but are no longer defined by economic status, physical attributes, class nor sexuality.

Keywords: Feminism, Sexual Violence, prostitution, womanism, apartheid, womanhood

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1 Reconstruction of Womanhood: Narratives of Unmarried Basotho Women in Lesotho

Authors: Neo Mohlabane


-- Feminists across various contexts have written extensively on the subject of ‘Woman.’ Recently the question of difference; to account for the cultural, ethnic, and racial diversity among women themselves has become a highly contested issue in feminist theories. Tensions have ensued where ‘western feminisms’ have been criticized for bias that is embedded in the objectification of ‘different’ women often regarded as ‘other’; traditional, therefore inferior. Thus, it is argued that womanhood; a set of socially defined attributes appropriate for women, holds different meanings depending on the context in which it is defined. Drawing on decolonial feminist approaches, this qualitative study explored the constructions of ‘womanhood’ from the perspective of unmarried Basotho women in Lesotho, where womanhood is predominantly defined in marital terms. Through the narrated life-stories of twenty unmarried Basotho women, the study revealed that as opposed to the ‘traditional’ definition that accounts for a single attribute woman as ‘wife,’ unmarried Basotho women defined ‘womanhood’ in different ways that deconstructed fixed gendered categories. The women drew meaning from their past personal experiences of childhood to construct and re-construct womanhood in adulthood. By transforming their embodied experiences of hardship and sorrow into valuable constructs with which they self-evaluated as resilient and perseverant, the women constructed a base for self-affirmation as woman. In addition, the women anchored their constructions and reconstructions of woman by transforming the meanings attached to the realms of respectability, sexuality and motherhood. Thus, to the question; what is a Woman? In part, the study concluded that there is no such thing as a ‘unitary’ definition of womanhood, instead Mosotho womanhood has always been and will always be in a state of flux; bearing multiplicity and complexity. This study highlights the need to exercise caution when using western concepts to understand the experiences of women in local African contexts. In order to decolonize feminist scholarship, African feminisms need to re-construct conceptual and theoretical frameworks appropriate for analyzing and understanding gender issues in African contexts.

Keywords: Feminism, decoloniality, womanhood, Lesotho

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