Feminism and the Politics of Identity Essay

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Mashudu C. Mashige Mashudu C. Mashige is Associate Professor in the Department of Applied Languages, Tshwane University of Technology, Soshanguve South Campus. He holds a D Litt et Phil degree in English from the University of Johannesburg. Email: MashigeMC@tut.ac.za Feminism and the politics of identity in Ingrid de Kok’s Familiar Ground Feminism and the politics of identity in Ingrid de Kok’s Familiar Ground Through an analysis of selected representative poems from Ingrid de Kok’s Familiar Ground, this article examines the role played by feminist poetry in the quest to address gender-related issues as well as to contribute constructively to South Africa’s liberation from patriarchal apartheid. The article further argues that feminist writers desire to (re)negotiate the space within which they can (re)construct and articulate their identities as women and mothers, and that in such a context the politics of identity cannot be detached from other aspects within the struggle for socio-political and economic emancipation. Thus characteristics of apartheid oppression are contrasted with the patriarchal domination opposed by feminist writers. Key words: Feminism, gender, identity, phallocentric, South African English poetry. In her foreword to South African Feminisms: Writing, Theory, and Criticism 1990-1994, Barbara Bowen suggests that South African feminism has a significant contribution to make in the doubled-edged question of examining race and gender (1996: x). This, Bowen contends, is important in developing relevant theoretical underpinnings and practices cognizant of oppression’s multi-faceted forms, and in ensuring that such underpinnings and practices do not overlook the historical conditions of oppression. It is crucially important also to understand that different meanings can be ascribed to feminism primarily because feminism in South Africa does

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