Gender Facebook 'talk' - a black feminist online “anthropology'


Using a feminist theoretical framework in research is not easy as it sounds because women, even within the same class and historical backgrounds are not the same. In this paper, I argue of the need to use a blended approach of feminist theories to showcase the rich cultural diversity of black women. All feminists share a basic commitment to ending female oppression, but no doubt do not approach the problem in the same way, even if gender, knowledge, and power are always interrelated. Using my experience in researching Facebook gender 'talk' around the topical issues of gender-based violence I shall in this paper discuss a black feminist online anthropology I used to amplify the voices of women who are hardly heard and seen in the narrative around gender-based violence in South Africa. Yet South Africa has the fourth highest cases of gender-based-violence cases in the world. Essentially, a core aspect of the discourse of violence against women is not just to highlight the extent and complexity of the problem but to tease out rigorous explanations that may lead us closer and closer to eradicating the epidemic. One aspect of the search for explanations, in my view, is to examine how society talks about violence against women. I use this black feminist online anthropology as a conscious act of knowledge production and canon formation. Indeed, a black feminist online anthropology constructs its own canon that is both theoretical and based in the politics of praxis and poetics as some scholars would say. In as far as South Africa continues to top international rankings of incidence of gender violence, this study of social media “talk” is an intervention and one that brings the black women experience at the central focal point. It is part of what other researchers call “organising against gender violence in South Africa”. What is attractive about feminism is its heterogeneity: the feminist angle although seeking to define feminism has proven to be anything but simple. Blending theory can lead us to develop a “new” theory – and developing a “new” theory puts us in uncharted territory. Such uncharted territory promises more rewards than a normative theory. In that regard, I propose research that moves away from one universal power force to one that embraces differences which the proposed hybrid postmodern-cyber-black feminist theory I discuss in this paper intends to do. I also examine representation and online identity as feminist approaches that are important when one is discussing online narratives.