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DeColonial Gender Narratives

Updated: Apr 15, 2022

Miss D’vine I

Zanele Muholi

Yeoville, Johannesburg,


Gender is a source of great anxiety in the modern age which is exasperated in developing countries or those with colonial narratives. The post-colonial moment produces its own brand of sexual myths and taboos, resulting in a new brand of gender violence and gender inequality. I am interested in how African womxn can move to decolonize their sexual and intimate identities in order to transform gender relations.

‘Woman’ is a big brand in the heteronormative narrative. Influenced by colonial structures, many so-called African traditionalists cling to the gender binary, ignoring Africa's foundations in gender multiplicities. In order to disrupt the colonial gender narrative, we must forge empowered spaces looking past the facade of coloniality. Pleasure, desire, and sex-positivity are generative means of exploring and emancipating the black female and queer body.

Judith Butler, Pumla Gqola, and Audre Lorde are useful thinkers in this deliberation. Female African artists such as LadySkollie, Tabita Rezaire, and Tracey Rose work with female sexuality and its various iterations. Queer African artists such as Zanele Muholi, Athi Pathra-Ruga, and Rotimi Fani-Kayode offer further insights with their radical imaginations and visualizations of queer sexualities. The trans art writer Beatriz Preciado further catalyzed the study of queer genders in The Contrasexual Manifesto.

Ultimately, the visibility of feminist and queer theories and other corresponding anti-hegemonies are a means of empowerment and connecting to the erotic, disrupting the aggressive violence of inequality. Erotic energy is universal and must be mobilized in order to move us forward from #menaretrash; #metoo and other unresolved movements highlighting gender inequality and rising against the patriarchy.


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