Beyond the victim trope: Images of “The new south african woman” in Cynthia Jele’s happiness is a fourletter word- (2010)
Over the years, feminist literature has tended to portray women as perpetual victims of patriarchy. While it is indisputable that women have been, (and continue to be) subjected to different kinds of oppression, this article argues, through a critical reading of Cynthia Jele’s debut novel, Happiness is a four-letter word (2010); that African professional women born out of the post-apartheid political order have, to some degree, gained leverage to challenge repressive cultural practices and traditions. The objective of this article is to reflect on the representations of professional African women in Jele’s Happiness is a four-letter word, a text that explores the lives and experiences of African women and the different ways in which they redefine womanhood. While traditional African feminist texts portray women as economically dependent and thus, domesticated a critical reading of Jele’s novel African professional women have power to reconfigure oppressions cultural traditions to suit their needs.
Key words: New South African woman, womanism, post-apartheid, sisterhood, economic freedom, marriage