Feminism and Violence Against Women


Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation and oppression (bell hooks, 1990)
Feminism sees that gender (ie. the way we are taught to behave according to our physical sex) is very important in how society is organised. How different genders relate to one another in society is also important in how society is organised.
Feminism explores the effects of gender and gender relations and how these react with class relations, race relations and many other ways that people communicate and relate to one another.
Feminism identifies how these patterns relate to injustice and abuse. Feminism is a commitment to work toward ending injustice. African feminists apply everything mentioned above but also focus on how colonialism affects us in Africa. (Adaptation of Jane Bennet’s definition: African Gender Institute, UCT, member of Rape Crisis’ Board and the author of all our training dossiers.)
Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes. (Dictionary definition.)
Feminism is about challenging the division of labour in the world that puts men in charge of the public side of life – work, sports, wars and government – while women slave away unpaid in the home carrying the whole burden of family life. (Watkins, Rueda and Rodriguez, 1997)

Rape Crisis Principles

  • No woman can be judged for the life decisions she makes about how she deals with the fact that she’s been raped
  • The way we as women experience life and oppression is influenced by our race, class, culture, sexual orientation, and religion
  • I cannot assume that I understand a woman just because she is a woman
  • Women are experts on explaining their experiences therefore,
  • I must listen with respect and patience to what a woman has to tell me


“ At what point is working within the system selling out on our politics?” (Burman, 1990)

“ Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender” (Alice Walker)

“The greatest weapon of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed” (Steve Biko)

“Then I looked at all the injustice in the world. The oppressed were weeping and no one would help them. No one would help them because their oppressors had power on their side” (ECCLESIASTES 4:1)

“In the final analysis, power is the right to have your definition of reality prevail over all other people’s definition of reality.” (Jeffrey Masson, 1988)

“Feminism causes women to leave their husbands, kill their children, destroy capitalism, practice witchcraft, and become lesbians” (Pat Robinson, 1998)

“Anger is directly related to power and to the ability to change.” (Ellyn Kaschack)

“Knowledge is power, but it can be used to oppress or free.” (don’t know who said this …)

“Feminists do not have any more unique access to ‘truth’ than any other group” (Rhoda Unger)

“My socialization into being a strong black woman is not unique” (Omosupe)

“The enemy within must be transformed before we can confront the enemy outside” (bell hooks)

“Mother what is a feminist?”

“A feminist, my daughter,
any woman now who cares
To think about her own affairs
As men don’t think she oughter” (Alice Duer Miller, 1915)

Every man I meet wants to protect me. Can’t figure out what from… (Mae West)

“Whenever a woman of colour takes up the feminine fight, she immediately qualifies for three possible “betrayals”:

She can be accused of either
Men (the man-hater)
Her community (people of colour should stay together to fight racism)
Women (you should first fight on the women’s side)
As if oppression only comes in monolithic forms” (Trinh Minh-ha)

Rape Crisis Training Course
April 2002
Watkins, Rueda and Rodriguez, Introducing Feminism, Icon Books, Cambridge, 1997.


The definition of socialisation that we created:
Socialisation is an on-going learning process of the norms and values of our culture and society that starts when we are born and continues for the rest of our lives. It shows us how we can belong to a group and how we exclude other groups. We use socialisation, as a form of social judgement of ourselves and of others – these judgements can be positive or negative.

We are socialised by our parents, care givers, families, schools, religions, media, friends, peers and other groups and institutions. And we can socialise ourselves to a certain extent (or challenge our socialisation) by being aware of and by questioning our values, norms, and expectations of others and other behaviours. Socialisation affects us when we are out socialising with others or at home; in fact it is the part of ourselves that guides us in all social situations.

Some of the tools of socialisation are rewards, punishment, discipline, shame, belonging, culture and language. Shame is used to make people act in certain ways or not to act in certain ways – it is a very strong tool of socialisation – as is language. Language allows us to force meaning and judgement on objects and actions. One way we do this is through our stereotypes about what other people in groups or in our own group are like. Our expectations and language can harm or affirm others. We can reclaim hurtful words and use language to deconstruct or carefully look at where we come from, what we believe, and why we do so.

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