Book Review: ‘Female Fear Fact

Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola’s latest book ‘Female Fear Factory’. Imagie via Twitter @feminist_rogue.

Book Review: ‘Female Fear Factory’ presents bold vision for SA women

In her latest book, award-winning feminist author and academic Pumla Gqola examines the delicate and complex nuances of female existence in a patriarchal world.

Book Review: ‘Female Fear Fact

Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola’s latest book ‘Female Fear Factory’. Imagie via Twitter @feminist_rogue.

In her latest book, Female Fear Factory, the much anticipated follow-up to her award-winning book, Rape: A South African Nightmare, renowned author and academic professor Pumla Dineo Gqola once again delves into the dark world of female fear and violence.

“Patriarchy has a full violence toolkit, where fear and shame have pride of place.”

Pumla Dineo Gqola in Female Fear Factory

The content and focus of the book is vital to understanding our world as it is today and this book helps to chip away at the distance that is often kept from heavy topics like sexual assult. It is the kind of book you read slowly, with a pen and sticky notes nearby, so you can mark quotes and topics you want to come back to.

Complex topics handled with sensitive and intellectual approach

From the very first page, it is obvious that the book is centred in solid and extensive research. Gqola invites readers into a detailed and intellectual exploration of the female existance while approaching it from a strong academic perspective.

The heavy content and focus of the book aside, the writing style, while strong and poignant, can be difficult to get through. This is not a reflection on the author, but rather on the heavy, academic writing.

The writing style fits with the topic and Gqola’s methodical layout of past literature on the topic, is heightened by the style; but readers should not pick up this book for an easy and light reading experience. In fairness, how could a book on this topic be written in any other manner?

‘Female Fear Factory’: Synopsis

The ongoing explosion of sexual violence demands more space for the development of the “female fear factory” concept as well as its possible antidotes.

Where Gqola’s previous book, Rape: A South African Nightmare, introduces strategies for disrupting rape culture at an individual level, Female Fear Factory offers an even bolder vision for collective action against all cultures of sexual violence.

Gqola, an icon of South African feminism, brilliantly traces the construction and machinations of the “female fear factory” by exposing its myths, lies and seductions.

This book offers an insightful and sobering account of patriarchal violence while it simultaneously offers a hopeful vision through the eyes of an unapologetic feminist.

Memorable Quotes

Patriarchy does not respect national boundaries. It is unabashedly promiscuous in its influences and tethers.

Fear is both an individual and a socio-political phenomenon. At an individual level, fear can be present as part of a healthy well developing warning system […] When we think about fear, it is important to hold both notions of individual emotional experience and the political ways in which fear has been used in different epochs for control.

More about the author

Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola. Image: South African Bookfair

Pumla Dineo Gqola is a feminist writer and professor of literary and cultural studies, with specific focus on African feminism, African literature, race, class and gender, as well as histories of slavery. She is the SARChl Chair in African Feminist Imagination at Nelson Mandela University, where she is also a research professor at the Centre for Women and Gender Studies.

In 2016, she received the 2016 Alan Paton Award for her book, Rape: A South African Nightmare.

Gqola holds a doctorate in philosophy (magna cum laude) in post-colonial studies from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München in Germany. She holds two Masters of Arts degrees in colonial and post-colonial literature — one from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, and the other from the University of Cape Town in 2000.

Female Fear Factory is published by Melidan Ferguson Books and is available at Exclusive Books for R287.