23 Aug Smashing the patriarchy ain’t easy – Foxy Five Interview
We arranged to meet in an unassuming café in Obs called That Place. People are huddled together in small groups, engaging in the usual coffee cup banter. Soon after Gugu Radebe and Jabu Newman arrived, they begin reading some of the tweets from fans that had attended the previous night’s fundraising event.
“Everyone is like tweeting at the Foxy Five TV.” Jabu begins.
“What are they saying?” Gugu queries with a chuckle.
“Last night was amazing with the Foxy Five team.”
“Yasss. The Foxy Five team gave me life and is probably the coolest thing on the internet right now. Waiting on episode two.”
You can tell by the way they’re reading the tweets that they’re still not used to the hype that they’ve received, as though they’re almost not worthy of all the adoration. Jabu and Gugu are part of the team that created the web series called Foxy Five. In their own words:
“This web series follows the adventures of the white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy smashing group of five young womxn from Cape Town –The Foxy Five.” – If you haven’t seen the pilot episode, watch it below.
I was lucky enough to sit down with these two members and chat about their web series and their thoughts around everything from feminism to the power of young South Africans. This is a group that is unapologetic in who they are and their insightful responses reflect that.
Being unapologetic no matter what
In a day and age where more and more people are conscious of the power of words and symbols, it’s significantly more likely that you’re going to offend someone with what you do or say. But whether or not our actions and words are justified depends largely on what is being said and who is taking offense to it. Foxy Five are not exempt from “political correctness” but they feel that there are times in life where you just have to brush off the people who are taking offense if you believe strongly in what you are doing.
Jabu mentions how she used to feel that filmmakers and artists had a social responsibility but now she thinks it’s more important that the art is delivered in the way it was intended.
“It’s really hard to keep up with what’s PC,” she laments. In agreement, Gugu adds that it’s important to put your art out the way you intended, irrespective of the backlash. Everyone is allowed to have an opinion and your art can have one too, so long as it’s not a “f**k you” opinion.
They had screened their first episode at the Waterfront and they recall how they received intense criticism by a largely white audience. Jabu amusedly recounts how old white women rebuked them, calling the episode vigilantism. Another white woman reacted to the episode by saying “less f**k, more love”. For both Gugu and Jabu, it was a reminder of how few people really understand the issues that black women face in today’s world.
The end goal
Despite the Waterfront experience, the overall feedback from the first episode has been overwhelmingly positive. Foxy Five have been featured everywhere from Between 10and5 to Mail & Guardian – all these publications are singing their praises.
“I did not expect to be in Mail & Guardian. I’m still like what, that happened?!” Jabu exclaims.
“The hype has actually been incredible. Honestly. We couldn’t have asked for anything else. But now there’s that much more pressure,” adds Gugu.
Despite the pressure, they remain focused on the end goal. I ask them what they would consider a success; what would make them finish up the first season of Foxy Five and agree that the job was done.
For them, success encapsulates all women being able to call themselves feminists. To achieve this, they want Foxy Five to end up being aired on TV in the near future so that they can access more women across the country. But more than that, they see Foxy Five as a research a project, a thesis of sorts.
This is as much about them learning more about intersectional feminism as it is about creating discussion and getting people talking more about the issues black women face. They caution about getting carried away with the big picture and state that right now, it’s just about creating a good, finished product that they can be proud of.
The Foxy Five movement
The rest of our time together was spent discussing the role that men need to play; they need to police one another more and break societal norms that harm women. We brought up #FeesMustFall, and how it was such a powerful catalyst that got people to talk more about issues and listen to one another more. The #FMF movement was the very thing that inspired a lot of what drove Jabu to conceptualise Foxy Five.
Despite only spending a short few hours with them, I can tell that Jabu and Gugu are two passionate creators with a strong conviction driving them to pursue their vision in Foxy Five. Smart. Driven. Determined. It’s a powerful recipe. And in much the same way that #FeesMustFall can be considered a catalyst that gave rise to Foxy Five, I anticipate that Foxy Five itself will be a major catalyst that gives a stronger voice to women across the country and will hopefully inspire all young South Africans to really stand up for something worth fighting for.
If you’re craving more Foxy Five, the next episode drops this Friday, 26th August. Follow their social accounts (Facebook; Twitter) to know exactly when it’s live or watch this space, we’ll be keenly waiting for it too.
*All photo credits to Jabu Newman