Being a Feminist in the Fallist Movement in Contemporary South Africa

Mbali Mazibuko
2020 Critical Times  
This short essay offers reflective feminist insight into the Fees Must Fall Movement of 2015–16 that was led by students and workers at universities in South Africa. It considers the ways in which Black feminist life is negotiated and embodied in a contemporary student-worker movement that remains oriented by and toward hegemonic hypermasculinities. This text further argues that Black feminist intervention and mobilization is distinct from women's movements as they happened under apartheid.
more » ... nder apartheid. Feminist organizing is principled in particular ways, and these ways are evidenced by Black feminist interventions within the Fees Must Fall (FMF) movement. This essay demonstrates how intersectionality functions as more than a diagnostic tool. Intersectionality and how it is imagined and used in the contemporary South African feminist context does not only recognize multiple and interlocking oppressions. Intersectionality is also in itself a methodology. Intersectionality as demonstrated by feminists and the LGBTIQA community of the FMF movement is a methodological choice that requires that various forms of protest and intervention be used simultaneously to challenge systemic oppressions. Centering intersectionality as methodology works to disrupt archaic perspectives on what is and is not activism, thought, or feminist work. Relying on the intellectual work of student-activists in the movement, otherwise known as "fallists," and memory and story-telling as methodological tools, this essay begins to imagine how we can think, research, and write in ways that memorialize and archive our lives, our histories, and our collective imaginaries.
doi:10.1215/26410478-8662368 fatcat:sm6svezysfcgreqwqvobpnsvi4