Between women: The subtle voice of femininity in children’s stories
The purpose of this essay is to illustrate and explore the representation of women in a selection of eight African children’s stories from Vhembe, in the Limpopo Province. The discussion is shaped primarily by the shared knowledge of the female elders who provided the narratives and participated in their analysis. The argument put forward is plain and simple: storytelling is one of many stratagems by means of which rural women—far from being passive spectators, nor willing consumers of a patriarchal world view—have created an autonomous physical and symbolic space for themselves, in opposition to the “stronger sex”. By combining anthropological analysis with indigenous exegesis, it was established that some of the selected narratives reveal the voices of women’s “protest”, the nature of which is subtle and understated rather than rebellious or subversive.
Keywords: children’s stories, feminine discourse, rural women’s narratives, Vhembe region, women’s protest.