South African Womxn Writers – Day 13: South African feminist collections and books

As a feminist writer and editor it would be remiss of me not to include a sample of some incredible South African feminist texts for you all to enjoy.

I’ll start with the three I edited, because I’m very proud of them.

  • My First Time: Stories of Sex and Sexuality from Women Like You (Modjaji, 2012) is a collection of first-person essays about significant sexual first times. It’s out of print but you might be able to get copies via your favourite second hand book stores.
  • Feminism Is: South Africans Speak Their Truth (Kwela, 2018) is a collection of 30 essays from South African feminists on the themes of inspiration, inclusions and exclusions, conversations, power and fury, and feminism in practice. The collection features some of South Africa’s most well-known feminists including Ferial Haffajee, Gugulethu Mhlungu, B Camminga, Aaisha Dadi Patel, Rebecca Davis, Helen Moffett, Nomalanga Mkhize, Dr Tlaleng Mofokeng, Genna Gardini, Pumla Dineo Gqola, and others.
  • Living While Feminist: Our Bodies, Our Truths (Kwela, 2020) features 50 pieces of writing from experienced and new feminist writers. The collection includes themes such as sex, safety, change, skin, hair, becoming, health, institutions and hearts. It includes poetry, essays, and short memoir pieces.

I’ve featured some of these incredible writers in my podcast, Living While Feminist, which is available via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, or wherever you get your podcasts.

  • Pumla Dineo Gqola: Rape A South African Nightmare: ISBN: 9781920601522 GoodReads
  • Dee Smythe: Rape Unresolved: Policing Sexual Offences in South Africa: ISBN: 9781919895895 GoodReads
  • Nechama Brodie: Femicide In South Africa: ISBN: 9780795709388 GoodReads

More non-fiction now, examining South Africa’s extremely high levels of violence against womxn. These three books help us to understand what drives this violence, and why South Africa is struggling to address it. They are, Rape: A South African Nightmare, by Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola; Rape Unresolved: Policing Sexual Offences in South Africa, by Professor Dee Smythe, and Femicide in South Africa, by Dr Nechama Brodie.

Also keep your eyes out for Professor Gqola’s next book – The Female Fear Factory. Out May 2021.

  • Mmatshilo Motsei: The Kanga and the Kangaroo Court. Reflections on the Rape Trial of Jacob Zuma. ISBN: 9781770092556 GoodReads
  • Redi Tlhabi: Khwezi. The Remarkable Story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo. ISBN: 9781868427260 GoodReads

In 2005 the then Deputy President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, was accused of rape. The trial was mired by patriarchal sexist rhetoric, victim-blaming, threats against the complainant, and harmful narratives about masculinity. It made clear that violence against women in South Africa was at the very least tolerated, and at worst was to be expected. Khwezi sought asylum in the Netherlands, and died in 2016. Jacob Zuma went on to be South Africa’s president for a decade that was characterised by inefficiency, corruption, and patriarchal violence.

Mmatshilo Motsei’s The Kanga and the Kangaroo Court tells the story of the trial and what it meant, and Redi Thlabi’s Khwezi: The Remarkable Story of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo tells the life story of the woman who accused Zuma of rape. It was published after her death.

Perils of Patriarchy (ISBN: 9780620880145 GoodReads) and Nasty Women Talk Back (ISBN: 9780639963600 GoodReads) are each feminist essay collections from South African writers focussing on the experience of being a feminist in a patriarchal world. Perils of Patriarchy is also a podcast, so tune in!

Next up, I’ve chosen some feminist choose your own adventure erotica. The Girl Walks In collection was co-written by three South African writers – Helen Moffett, Sarah Lotz, and Paige Nick under the nom de plume, Helena S Paige. These are light, fun, and perfect holiday reads. They have also been translated into several languages, so keep your eyes out for those!

  • A Girl Walks into a Blind Date: ISBN: 9780751552584 GoodReads
  • A Girl Walks into a Wedding: ISBN: 9780908387939 GoodReads
  • A Girl Walks into a Bar: ISBN: 9780062291974 GoodReads
  • Barbara Boswell: And Wrote My Story Anyway: Black South African Women’s Novels as Feminism. ISBN: 9781776146185 GoodReads
  • Ambre Nicolson and Jaxon Hsu: The A to Z of Amazing South African Women. ISBN: 9781928215400 GoodReads
  • Lauren Beukes and Nechama Brodie: Maverick. Extraordinary Women from South Africa’s Past. ISBN: 9781770070509 GoodReads

Read some more about fantastic South African feminists from the past and present by choosing the above three collections that will stand you in good stead. And Wrote My Story Anyway by Dr Barbara Boswell focusses on black South African women’s novels as feminism. The A to Z of Amazing South African Women features important women from South Africa’s past and present. Maverick by Lauren Beukes and Dr Nechama Brodie also takes a look at extraordinary women from SA’s past.

And finally, every feminist knows that taking back the right to sexual pleasure is a vital part of a feminist journey. These recent South African books – Quirky Quick Guide to Having Great Sex (ISBN: 9780795709449 GoodReads) and Dr T: A Guide to Sexual Health and Pleasure (ISBN: 9781770106468 GoodReads) – will start your journey off right!

This month’s blog is curated by Jen Thorpe.

Jen Thorpe is a feminist writer. Her first novel, The Peculiars (2016), was long listed for the Etisalat Prize for Literature (2016) and the Sunday Times Fiction Prize (2017). Her second novel, The Fall, was published in July 2020. Thorpe has edited three collections of feminist essays – My First Time: Stories of Sex and Sexuality from Women Like You (2012); Feminism Is: South Africans Speak Their Truth (2018) and Living While Feminist (2020). Her writing has been published in Brittle Paper, Saraba Magazine, Jalada, and Litro. Find out more via https://jen-thorpe.com. Jen is also the host of the Living While Feminist Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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