The botanical gardens in Grahamstown became host to a group of students discussing their views on feminism during a sharing picnic. Reporter, Shannon Frost, attended the event to bring you all the details.
The botanical gardens became the meeting place for Grahamstown’s womanists, feminists, activists, and keen politicians as the Gender Action Project (GAP) hosted a Feminist Sharing Picnic on Saturday, 19 September. An exchange of personal stories, opinions, poetry and memoirs allowed attendees to be creative in an open space and learn from each other in a safe environment.
Discussions sparked among the diverse group and included issues around menstrual cycles, women in the hip hop industry, how print media publish “sex tips” for women, and Nicki Minaj and the way she is sexualised in her music video. Many participants debated around whether a musical artist like Minaj is a respectable feminist. One participant explained how Minaj is an example of fourth wave feminism. She continued to explain how women today are “reclaiming our bodies” and words used against women like “bitch” or “hoe” by using them in music, poems, and speeches.
One speaker added how uncomfortable the hip hop industry makes her feel as a woman; she prefers music by artists that rap about issues she can personally relate to and “think about on a Sunday morning”. She listed female rappers currently working in the industry and questioned whether other participants had heard of these respectable poets.
Photos: Sophie Foster
Vice-Chairperson of GAP, Sian Ferguson, mediated the sharing picnic, and beforehand, she shared some worry over the event “[I’m] really nervous because it’s out in the open and that people might not want to share”, however, the afternoon was a success with over 40 students attending the event. GAP is an activism society based at Rhodes University that formed in 2007 following a series of protests against the silencing of rape survivors in South Africa. The society aims to campaign to ensure a community free of sexism, oppression, and sexual violence.
Attendees were asked before the event to bring anything to share that has influenced their womanism, feminism, activism and/or politics in any way. No male attendees shared any personal literature but rather contributed and listened to all discussions. One male attendee who spoke to Embizweni explained how he personally treds lightly at feminist gatherings and although he does not feel intimidated in such a space, other men may feel uninvited. He further explained how great it is to have exchanges about feminism. He added that contemporary feminist studies at tertiary educations lose out by not having more men in conversations.
Photos: Sophie Foster
The afternoon ended after comments about making the idea of feminism more accessible to those who don’t fully understand. The last of the picnic foods were finished and the GAP has advertised their new event around the rape culture at Rhodes University.