On the Women’s Day roundtable discussion on Radio702, she was joined by Mbali Matandela, a feminist activist, and writer Motlatsi Khosi. At the forefront of the discussion was the concept of feminism. “I […] think that one should not reject feminism as [a] term and also as a very powerful political movement that’s delivered incredible political gains and social gains, and economic gains for women over the past however many decades”, said Prof. Van der Westhuizen. She stressed that while for her, feminism still holds much value, the concept itself needs to be elaborated.

Prof. van der Westhuizen went on to discuss the various types of feminism including second wave feminism, third wave feminism, and the subtypes of feminism found today such as black feminism, which Prof. Van der Westhuizen said have been the pioneers of intersectionality in feminism, lesbian feminism, and queer feminism.

In the BBC documentary Our World: Afrikaners on the Edge Prof. Van der Westhuizen addressed the Afrikaans community, and how they saw themselves and their culture as being under threat. “It’s like you’re always walking around with a target on your back”, says one of the men, an AfriForum member and SRC candidate at Stellenbosch University. “Although not all white students share similar views I recognise that I, as a white male in South Africa am privileged. I shouldn’t feel guilty about it, but I realise that there is a racial misbalance in South Africa and that I can do something about it”, says another student at Stellenbosch University.

Prof. van der Westhuizen addressed the Afrikaners loss of power and how that has impacted them as a people. “I think that it’s very unpleasant to be in a position of power and privilege and then for that position of privilege to be confronted, and with the argument that it should be dismantled. People don’t like giving up power. White people don’t like giving up power. Men don’t like giving up power. Heterosexuals don’t like giving up power. Who wants to give up power?”, said Prof. Van der Westhuizen. When posed with the question of whether – according to white Afrikaners – the system of “reverse racism” is at play, Prof. Van der Westhuizen explained to the BBC narrator the various government implementations post-apartheid. “These [employment equity and Black Economic Empowerment] different to the discrimination of apartheid is because in apartheid differences were used to take away life opportunities from people. For me, it is impossible to move towards a society where we can let go of race, until we’ve rectified those injustices that are based on race,” said Prof. Van der Westhuizen.

Prof. van der Westhuizen has previously discussed the themes addressed in these various media appearances. She is the author of two books titled White Power & the Rise and Fall of the National Party and Working Democracy: Perspectives on South Africa’s Parliament at 20 Years, and is the editor of the book Gender Instruments in Africa: Critical Perspectives, Future Strategies.

 

Photo: up.ac.za