2 minute read

Africa and African Diaspora Feminism

Continental Feminism, History, Postcolonial Feminism, Feminist Activism, Feminist Intellectuals, Feminism In The African Diaspora

Feminism is broadly defined as the struggle for the liberation of women, and encompasses epistemologies, methodologies, theories, and modes of activism that seek to bring an end to the oppression and subordination of women by men. An individual person espousing feminism is referred to as a feminist, while collective mobilizations of women against the oppression of women are referred to as feminist movements wherever they occur. Feminist movements are defined by their relatively radical gender politics and located as a subgroup within the broader category of women's movements. Analysts of African women's movements have documented the mobilization of women by both military and civilian dictatorships (Abdullah; Mama) and by conservative and religious forces within civil society (Lazreg; Badran; Hale; Karam), thus contributing to the theorization of women's movements by broadening it to include mobilizations of women that may not be liberatory in the sense of bringing an end to the oppression of women.

Even so, the term feminism covers a diverse array of politics centered around the pursuit of more equitable gender relations; this is true of feminism in Africa. However, proper documentation and analysis of the various manifestations of feminism, and the manner in which these have changed over time in different African contexts, is hampered by the lack of access to resources and the limited opportunities for debate, networking, and scholarship grounded in continental contexts. As a result the debate around African feminism and feminism in Africa remains highly contested and difficult to define. Even in the era of nationalism, many African thinkers have rejected the word outright, considering it as "un-African" and derogating "feminists" as sexually unattractive and humorless manhaters, troublemakers, Westernized, and sexually disreputable women who pose a threat to traditional culture and society. Others have displayed varying degrees of acceptance and tolerance, generally around the emancipation and enfranchisement of women, and supporting the inclusion of women in hitherto male-dominated institutions and development. African women have devoted much effort to the redefinition of feminism evident in the plethora of publications generated under the broad rubric of gender and women's studies carried out in African contexts since the 1980s. Feminist thinkers have done much to excavate the histories of women's movements in African societies, some even going so far as to argue that Western feminism has derived much of its inspiration from Africa. Since the 1970s, Western anthropological studies of African women have often been invoked (and at times appropriated) to provide evidence that the gender divisions of patriarchal Western societies were neither universal nor immutable, but culturally and socially constructed and therefore changeable.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Adrenoceptor (adrenoreceptor; adrenergic receptor) to Ambient