Being Feminist is our Activism!
Annually, we approach this period of the year with a level of anticipation of how the organisations and movements in our networks will commemorate the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence. We look forward to learning from the intersectionality of the struggles of women and groups being marginalized in their respective spaces and communities. Not only to learn but also to finding ways of highlighting these struggles and to show solidarity as we continue our feminist journey.
As a feminist organization, it is important for us to continually reflect on what feminism is and how we position feminism in our way of working with organisations and communities. Reminding ourselves and each other that the discourse of feminism is built on the continuous conversations and engagements that women in all their diversity continue to have. Women have always talked about oppressive systems and found ways of protecting their daughters and themselves. Women continue to have the awareness that they are the target in a patriarchal society.
Feminism explains patriarchy
In today’s world, there is no other ideology, or body of knowledge, activism or visioning that centres women’s lives at its core and enables us to imagine a different kind of society. This ideology comes out of women’s resistance to patriarchy. Feminism explains patriarchy, by centering women at its core through the language used. It also enables us to celebrate women in all their diversity, and by celebrating women we envision a different future. When we bring feminism into our lives, we can see the change; where women defend themselves and not allow others to violate them. When women encounter violations of their bodily integrity, they speak out! The continuity of women’s resistance to patriarchy is what makes this campaign worth celebrating.
The starting point to becoming feminist is by bringing acknowledgement of freedom and emancipation from patriarchy to oneself. Feminism is an identity and is an expression of activism and importantly, it is the visioning of an alternative to patriarchy. The visioning requires mobilization and collective work, thinking and engagement, by bringing ideas and actions together. Feminism is an ideology rooted in the politics of women’s emancipation and a celebration of women as complete humans.
It is not something that is given by the state, it is an ideology that comes out of women’s struggles and aspirations to be free. It is a system of knowledge embedded in the lives of all women who have lived. It draws from all the resistances that women have engaged in.
The capacity of women’s bodies to procreate the human species becomes the basis of the ownership of women’s bodies. When we talk of domestic violence, we talk about an ancient practice where women are treated as property; it is the transformation of women into a commodity. Thus, patriarchy is a violent system that dispenses privilege and power. Patriarchy is violence connected to the female body, a direct example – rape is a brutal expression of male dominance.
”When we talk of domestic violence, we talk about an ancient practice where women are treated as property; it is the transformation of women into a commodity”.
To truly address inequality and societal challenges, we need to start deepening our understanding of what is it that informs the systems of oppression that we are experiencing?
Societies are unable to solve the challenges that persist among them without addressing the root cause of how patriarchy emerged. At the core of patriarchy, besides the commodification of female bodies, are two key concepts, namely supremacy and impunity. These concepts become the key elements in maintaining the exploitation and extractive systems. Supremacy is part of the fracture in our societies because it maintains hierarchies of power. For instance, members of a family that violate the bodies of children are performing the impunity that patriarchy allows them. Males get told they are superior to the female. Impunity is where the boundaries that a society has established are crossed. Impetuous behaviour is manifested through the violation of the integrity of a human being.
This text marks the start of Afrikagrupperna’s participation in 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. We will publish one article per day during the campaign with the aim of raising awareness about a global problem and the patriarchal structures that enables it, highlighting the situation both in Sweden and in our countries of operation.