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‘Feminism Is’: The Book South Africa Needs to Read

‘Feminism Is: South African Voices Speak Their Truth’ is the new must read feminist anthology

Photo by A Singh

Anger from a woman has always been seen and caricatured as a destructive force that spawns nothing but ugliness and uncivilised behaviour.

A woman’s rage, however justified it may be, has no place in this so-called ‘civilised’ society. An angry woman has always been thought of as too loud, too angry or too proud to be female. When a woman speaks angrily about the injustices she has faced, a hasty rebuke or a mocking dismissal always follow. The world never takes that anger seriously. Finally, however, we have a book that so eloquently expresses this anger that nobody can deny the justifiable pillars that support it.

Feminism Is is a force for positive change. It will give women the motivation to keep fighting the patriarchy and the strength to never give up on the cause.

In this brilliant book, Editor Jen Thorpe has put together a collection of essays by different South African feminist authors. It is a song sung by different voices—each unique. When you tune into each one individually, you learn. The featured writers are of different races, religions and sexual orientations. Each essay is unique and refreshing—showing us that feminism means something different to everyone. This book illustrates the journey towards feminism, what it’s like to be a feminist and how feminism can be perceived in many different ways.

Essentially, Feminism Is defines feminism: feminism is about rights, power, equality and it’s about everyone. No one person can define the label and claim it as solely theirs, and it is paramount that everyone understands this.

The book highlights the different spheres each person exists in, effectively illustrating the incredibly different injustices each person faces, and how they have challenged these injustices in a way unique to their situation. If you are looking for a way to understand the concept of intersectional feminism, this book is the best way to do so.

The book is split into five sections: Inspiration, Inclusions and Exclusions, Conversations, Power and Fury, and In Practice. The anthology features work from Ferial Haffajee, Pumla Dineo Gqola, Gugulethu Mhlungu, Owethu Makhathini, Larissa Klazinga and many others. At the book launch, authors Owethu Makhathini and Larissa Klazinga explained their essays: Feminism Is has many lessons hidden within is pages, and we must be willing to find them. You will learn that feminism is kindness, openness and love. It is standing in solidarity within this glorious sisterhood. It is being inspired by other women. It is learning and understanding that our ‘wokeness’ is the result of generations past. It is knowing that we can learn from anything and anyone. It is fighting for what we believe in and understanding that the struggles of others are just as important as our own. The most important thing you will learn is that feminism is intersectional.

Feminism Is is the glorious, raw and much needed result of years and years of suppressed anger, discord and injustice. If you want to get impassioned, angry, educated and inspired, Feminism Is is the perfect book for you. Each essay will draw you in with compelling stories, brilliant viewpoints and quality writing. This book answers old questions, poses new ones, challenges your thinking and inspires change. For South Africans, especially, it is great to finally have something concrete to use as a tool to battle the ever-present sexism and misogyny in this country.

I believe that Feminism Is is the book in South Africa when it comes to modern day, intersectional feminism.

Thank you to Helené Prinsloo of NB Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book.

Grab your own copy at Exclusive Books, or on Amazon!

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Written by Aishvarya Singh

Aishvarya Singh is an aspiring writer and law student. She is into books, Bollywood and social justice. When she's not writing, she is either binge watching series or reading. She lives in South Africa, and no, she does not have a pet lion. Find her on Twitter and Instagram: @ai5hvarya
Email: aishsingh113@yahoo.com