By Meredeth Turshen (eds.)

ISBN-10: 0230114326

ISBN-13: 9780230114326

ISBN-10: 1349290343

ISBN-13: 9781349290345

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Sexual subordination when one is a wage laborer in a racist society is quite another. Western feminists argued that the consideration of gender transforms the analysis of class, that the substance of class oppression is gender specific. South African socialists showed that an analysis of class transforms the analysis of race. In the same way, we argue, the substance of gender subordination varies according to racial and class specifics. Once one begins to consider the dynamic relations between gender, race, and class, it is necessary to link these categories in a way that avoids static analysis of variables or the temptation to collapse them into each other.

Moreover, Van Onselen suggested in his study of houseboys on the Reef at the turn of the twentieth century, male domestic workers may have resorted to counteracting activities outside the workplace to reaffirm their own sense of gender (and social) identity. Changing from “saucepan” by day to amalaita (teddy-boys, a criminal gang) by night, they would compensate for their loss of masculinity by suitably aggressive and independent behavior. In contrast, when African women perform domestic work, it resonates completely with the kind of work they ought to be doing as women, something reinforced by both mission and traditional African education of young girls.

Thus the political history of white settler colonialism neatly (and bloodily) dovetailed into the economics of neoliberalism in the realities of early-twenty-first-century Southern Africa. If one takes a closer look at what was supposed to make South Africa different from other African societies, one can clearly see the contradictions between what South African society really is—a deeply fractured and volatile social formation—and the invented, multicultural, nonracist illusion that was fabricated at the moment of independence to placate and mollify white angst and western anxiety about the future of white privilege in that country.

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African Women: A Political Ecomony by Meredeth Turshen (eds.)


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