Added: Brandyn Guel - Date: 16.11.2021 11:12 - Views: 39476 - Clicks: 6439
Understandings of African lesbian sexualities have been affected by silence, repression, and uncertainty. The subject of lesbian experiences and sexualities in Africa constitutes an opportunity for feminist scholars to address the transnational politics of knowledge production about African lesbians' lives and the contours of lesbian art, activism, and relationships in African nations. This article contextualizes the state of research on African lesbian sexualities and introduces the special issue.
Because African lesbian sexualities have largely been shaped by silence and secrecy, oppression and repression, uncertain definitions and varying situational practices, using a combination of cross-cultural and interdisciplinary methods seems to be the best strategy to approach the complex mesh of historical, sociocultural, and economic conditions that characterize the experiences of women who love women in Africa.
However, since the early s, historians, ethnographers, and scholars have not only worked on debunking the myth that homosexuality is un-African but have also documented Africans' same-sex sexual practices before, during, and after colonialism, resolutely adopting Afrocentric queer perspectives in their works and thereby engaging in a productive and multivalent dialogue with U. On the continent, queer African studies have remained predominantly located in South Africa for several reasons.
While the blatantly homophobic national context of countries such as Cameroon, Uganda, or Zimbabwe has driven queer culture and scholarship underground Epprecht ; Nyanzithe South African constitution forbids discrimination on the basis of race, gender, or sexual orientation, and same-sex marriage is legal in South Africa Judge, Manion, and de Waal South Africa has therefore been a productive ground for the articulation and promotion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex LGBTI research and activism.
However, such scholarship is also being conducted, albeit with challenges and obstacles, all across the African continent and has led to an ever-growing critical corpus on queer African studies, including anthologies of interviews and first-person narratives with African LGBTI people. As Alleyn Dieselxvii notes in her edited volume Reclaiming the L-Word: Sappho's Daughters Out in Africa : The stories in this collection are told by women who come from a wide variety of communities, with great differences in ethnic, social, educational, economic and religious or secular backgrounds, that offer very diverse opportunities for advancement and success in life.
But their s of growing up as lesbian in South Africa all reflect in some way the difficulties, uncertainties, fears, sometimes rejection and discrimination that have accompanied their attempts to achieve recognition in society. Thus, African lesbians' personal narratives confirm the diversity and humanity of same-sex-loving women's experiences without necessarily reverting to lurid images depicting African lesbians only as victims of homophobic violence. In the case of female same-sex eroticism in Lesotho, Basotho women's lifelong friendships with one another sometimes contained erotic components that did not endanger their marriages to men Kendall These examples illuminate how African lesbians or women-loving women might become culturally legible within narrow scholarly frameworks.
Capturing the multiple forms of oppression experienced by these women requires case studies, collected stories and narratives, and various forms of visual representations. Scholarly work published on women who engage in same-sex relations with other women in Africa has further investigated representations of same-sex-loving women in literary or visual works, thereby stressing the shifting and fluid multiplicity of their agency and the critical resistance encountered by these scholars in conceptualizing or theorizing such agencies.
A growing body of scholarship has been dedicated to the work of the Black South African lesbian photographer and activist Zanele Muholi, who has been the subject of both critical essays and documentaries Difficult Love, Enraged by a Picture Baderoon ; Salley ; Thomas ; van der Vlies In making films like Shogafilmmakers have opened up debates about such controversial issues as homosexuality, in spite of their intentions and the films' messages about morality.
Although Shoga depicts mostly negative views of homosexuality, some documentaries educate audiences about homosexuality in general and female same-sex sexuality in particular. In countries in which much of the population does not have access to formal education, such visual media representations of sexual nonconformity can engender new discussions about love and sexualities on the African continent.
For Betelhem Ephrem and Aaronette M. Fluidity can also encompass gender variance within women's same-sex relationships. Within different African lesbian communities, same-sex-loving women experiment Sexually black lesbians their gender presentations, gravitate toward butch—femme partnerships, and navigate gendered forms of intimacy Morgan and Wieringa Some Sexually black lesbians activist organizations sponsor workshops that give same-sex-loving women the space to learn more about one another.
Anticipating antifeminist opposition, some theorists define African feminism against Western feminism Nnaemeka Repudiating Western feminism is evidence of feminists' attempts to resolve the visibility dilemma that plagues feminist organizing in different African contexts. The subject of same-sex sexualities aggravates feminists' visibility dilemma. Feminists can manage their endeavors' public visibility by ignoring same-sex sexualities, repudiating same-sex sexualities and Western feminism, or embracing same-sex sexualities as part of their campaigns.
To assert the indigeneity of African feminist organizing, some feminists align their goals with nationalist heteronormativity, the set of institutions that codify privilege, and reward monogamous, marital heterosexuality and gender conformity and that vilify and punish nonheterosexualities and perceived gender transgression Schilt and Westbrook Women may categorize such intimacies within a broader understanding of friendship or playfulness or lack a common language for recognizing same-sex sexualities, although this is becoming less likely given the widening circulation of Western sexual-identification terms Arnfred ; Kendall Sexually black lesbians, there are historical moments of lesbian inclusion in African feminist circles, such as women affirming the existence of lesbian sexualities in Kenyan society at the United Nations Third World Conference on Women in Nairobi Likosky Some African feminists discount the existence of female same-sex sexualities in different ethnic groups, much like antigay opponents question the historical presence of same-sex sexualities in African societies.
However, Amadiume is uninterested in this point. Rebuffing same-sex sexualities allows scholars to distance African feminist theorizing and activism from association with Western sources. We are worried that black feminism has become synonymous with lesbianism. Some African feminists will not budge from antilesbian positions. This is evidenced in how former Namibian Minister of Health and Social Services Libertine Amathila renders sexual diversity a political impossibility for Namibian feminists.
An earlier example of Amathila's argument appears in Diana E. Russell's examination of South African women's rights organizing during the apartheid regime's waning years. She interviewed Tozi Ntuli, a year-old South African woman who was involved with antiapartheid and women's rights movements and worked for an African women's magazine. Ntuli differentiates South African feminism from Western feminism through the latter's support of lesbian rights. We can't fight for that issue.
Never ever! Russell Lesbian rights could never have occupied a place of centrality alongside other rights in the South African antiapartheid and women's rights movements, according to Ntuli's formulation, although it would have been possible for feminists to mention lesbian rights as an afterthought. In her conclusion, Russell questions what gains feminists could make if feminists used the antiapartheid movement's yardstick for measuring what was possible for feminist organizing: [W]hat does it mean to only try to address those Sexually black lesbians of women's oppression that men can be persuaded to see as jeopardizing the liberation struggle?
That since homophobia is perceived as irrelevant to antiapartheid politics, the liberation movement is unwilling to even think about it, let alone fight against it? She insinuates that ignoring questions of homophobia, for instance, may haunt the feminist movement later. Russell imagines Sexually black lesbians South African feminist politics that addresses homophobia alongside other social injustices. When individual African feminists publicly support lesbian rights, they often face personal and professional difficulties.
Patricia McFadden has faced antagonism from the state and the women's movement in Zimbabwe because she also stood up for sexual diversity. The deafening silence with which this was greeted by the Women's Movement in Zimbabwe spoke volumes about the hegemony of patriarchal nationalism, of the deeply ingrained right-wing definitions of alternative sexual choices as culturally alien, and of the political and discursive silencing of women through the surveillance of their sexuality. McFadden's undiluted support for lesbian and gay rights marked her as un-African and traitorous both to the Zimbabwean government and the feminist movement, which, she viewed, as toeing the ruling party's line.
McFaddenviii. If they appear too eager to frame lesbian rights as women's rights, then political and religious officials may view women's rights advocates as national, cultural, and even sexual traitors. This question emerges from two different, but related, discourses about gender and sexuality movements.
Theorizing the importance of lesbian inclusion as pathway to challenging local and global heteropatriarchies would likely merit consideration as a feminist strategy. Of particular concern is the possibility that unspecified observers and intellectuals might employ such distinctions to create a ranked hierarchy of African feminist and women's activist groups based on their treatment of lesbian women and rights.
The potential for hierarchizing feminist and women's activism in Africa is a development feminist scholars should anticipate, while still remaining critical of antilesbian vitriol that state officials and women's rights advocates intentionally deploy to malign autonomous feminist activist groups who embrace lesbian rights in their political work.
LGBTI people have had to face not only pervasive forms of homophobia in their communities but, in countries like Nigeria, Uganda, Cameroon, Namibia, and Zimbabwe in particular, have had to contend with blatant antigay agendas on the part of various political and religious leaders. Jammeh railed against the perceived meddling of White diplomats and activists in his country's affairs. Therefore, African lesbians' visibility acquired a punitive quality. Legislators worried about White lesbians only to the extent that they did not conform to White Afrikaner expectations about femininity, heterosexual marriage, and motherhood McClintock Lesbians therefore become equated not only with an anti-nationalist agenda but also with the prospect of national corruption and collapse, underscored by the misconception that same-sex sexualities will lead to ethnic extinction.
In Nigeria, male filmmakers first used female lesbian characters as a means of othering homosexuals and portraying them as dangerous aggressors and predators Green-Simms and Azuah In the Sexually black lesbians century, scientific racism and ethnocentrism pervaded investigations of African sexualities. Crais and Pamela Scully and Siobhan B.
Such views promoted racist, heteronormative views of African women as temptresses who lured White men into adulterous relationships and African men as sexual predators who raped White women. The patriarchal, male-focused bias of U. The development of African queer activist organizations can also potentially manufacture new of vulnerable people, who become potential targets of Western intervention Currier ; Thomann In that context, queer women's bodies in particular risk further objectification, erasure, and the violation of their human rights.
In this special issue, five articles introduce a wide range of both inter disciplinary and methodological interpretations of female same-sex sexualities in Africa. By highlighting the broad and complex humanity of the people they foreground, these articles point out the difficulty in summarizing, categorizing, and generalizing any narrative regarding female same-sex sexualities across the African continent.
Instead, they highlight fluid sexual practices and emotional experiences, multiple forms of agency and strategic resistance, and broad cultural, communal, and spiritual contexts rather than isolated sexual minorities or narrow identity politics. Murphy, and Teresa Mastin draw from creative focus groups and participant observation to probe discursive constructions of female same-sex identities in Nairobi, especially as seen through the lens of Kenyan media representations of LGBTI citizens.
Tushabe also engages with the broader context of human rights discourse and calls for decolonial approaches to same-sex relations in Africa. In the process, Munro emphasizes the forging of lesbian, feminist alliances and solidarities in a both pan-African and diasporic perspective along the lines of interracial and cross-cultural queer female desire. Her study is based on interviews with members of Free Gender, a Black lesbian organization located in the Capetonian township of Khayelitsha that aims to respond to Sexually black lesbians issue of homophobic violence in the townships.
Through these public acts of mourning, Moreau argues, Black lesbians in South Africa redefine the meaning of being a lesbian and foster renewed lesbian kinship ties and social responsibilities in their communities. By reworking notions and representations, Muholi, Imma argues, undermines heterosexist and racist constructions of township space and Black gendered bodies. In the process, Imma also shows how Muholi's work shuttles back and forth between aesthetics and politics and offers new, heterogeneous pictures of Black lesbians' lives and queer life in general in the township, rather than single images of the homophobic violence and corrective rape, especially as they get circulated by global media, in contemporary South Africa.
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23% of young black women now identify as bisexual