This study is concerned with the manifestation of the protest against gender inequality in the perspective of some selected African authors feminist texts. The research investigates the study through the analysis of the selected text. Some research questions were formulated after careful observation of the problem stated ion chapter one, specifically, the study seeking to effectively determine those factors that could greatly enhance gender equality in our society. In the final chapter, the researcher did a useful summary and made suggestions for further research and recommendation as to how to sustain the solution of the identified gender inequality problem.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Manifestation of the protest against gender inequality examines feminism revolt as a legitimate instrument against gender inequality as it affects women using the following texts and authors as case study. The Wives Revolt, J. P. Clark, So long a letter, Mariama Ba, Second class citizen, Buchi Emecheta, The women of Orena are wiser than the gods, Osadebamwen Oamen and The Dragon Funeral,. Emeka Nwabueze.
The word feminism according to oxford advanced learners dictionary is defined as movement for recognition of claims of women for rights (legal, political, etc) equal to those possessed by men. The concept of feminism is Euro-American. It was established in Africa through the educated African women who felt marginalized within the African cultural society and context as well as having the notion that, in the cultural African society, women like children are seen but not heard and as such has to change their status quo. Aihevba (2006) in his work literacy criticism: A practical approach writes that; “feminism is a revolutionary movements that is focused on specifically the female subject of representing and challenging the mentality that women are subordinate to men. It is a fight against cultural representation of women as domestic and sexual object only good for nothing else”.
The Cambridge Encyclopaedia defines feminism as “a socio-political movement whose objective is equality of right, status and power for men and women” (62). Judith Burdick (2007) in women in transition says “feminism” is an explicitly reduction of the life style created by strong coercive norms that define what women are and can do. She further states that feminism is a psychological revolution based on women’s insistence that they have the basic right to make choice and be judged as individuals.
In conclusion feminism to the researchers understanding is ideologically designed to liberate and emancipate women worldwide from oppression, ignorance and poverty, and that freedom for women is also liberation for me. This means it is meant to correct the impression that women are culturally inferior, whose identity was to be found in the desire to please, serve others and seek definition through being secondary to men, racial minorities, sexual deviants (sexual objects) or even the masses only good for domestic chores and also seen as baby making machine. Being object of male violence, religious fundamentalism and pornography which presented them as literally in bondage to men.
Historically, feminism as a movement has its root or origin in enlightenment campaign against slavery, sexual assault, prejudice and other forms of cultural and literacy oppression suffered by women world over. For instance, in the United States of America, feminist movement was born out of anti-slavery campaign which was subsequently championed by Rosa Park who was against supremacy in America. In the same vein, women in North and South of Europe as a result of prejudice, and privileges denied them also rose to the occasion of feminism. While for the African, it was the educated black women who imported the Euro-American concept of feminism to challenge the institution of slavery and resist white men’s sexual assault. In the view of the above, early feminist who managed to rise above sexual prejudice, their interest was to reconstitute literature in order to do justice to female point of view, concern and value and to identify recurrent and distorting “image of women” or to bring to light and to counter the covert sexual biases written into a literary work.
Consequences, a good literature to them (early feminists) was therefore, a work that is produced to project the freedom and dignity of womanhood and reawakening of feminist consciousness, by appealing to the idea that liberation for women is liberation for men. From the above definitions vis-à-vis conception and the brief history of feminism, it becomes believes that feminism could be socialist, cultural and radical. This essay by the researcher looked at these classification one after the other along line this classification.
a. Socialist feminism: Socialist feminism links women’s oppression to the class structure sexism which according to the oxford advanced learners dictionary is “unfair treatment of people especially women, because of their sex, or the attitude that causes this”, gives men utter control over women. Women are oppressed by the men around them, but both men and women are ultimately oppressed by the class system. This socialist feminism believes that men and women are not significantly different.
b. Cultural Feminism: Traditionally, men are elevated as the perfect performer in any normative action. They are often lionized and celebrated as the pattern for group identification while women are only but seen as the weaker sex. The concept of cultural feminism is concerned with the theory that there is fundamental difference between men and women and that women’s differences are special and should be celebrated. Women are generally believed to be kinder and gentler than men. The view of cultural feminism is geared towards the celebration of women’s special qualities, their ways and experiences.
c. Radical Feminism: This concept of feminism often opts for a life of separate existence from the opposite sex. It questions why women must adopt certain roles based on their biology. Radical feminist critics charge that the men create the world from their own point of views which then becomes the truth to be described. Radical feminist’s criticism advocates a revolutionary model of social change.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Culturally, the image of womanhood is represented by particularly as a symbol of erotic desire positioned by race, class and gender as a subservient group of people lower and inferior to the male folks. Again, under partilineage which mark most African society, the image of the women was portrayed as those who are culturally inferior, whose identity is to be found in the desire to please and serve men and seek definition by being secondary to men.
Haven x-rayed the circumstance women have found themselves, their pitiable condition evade position, it calls for radical and correct representation of the image of womanhood through literature, by a means of rebuilding the image of women generally. The statement of this research work problem therefore, is that of finding out and describing how womanhood has fared culturally and how feminism as a literary concept and movement in African literature has helped to reconstruct or reposition the image of womanhood in Africa through a selection of some notable authors produced works in their contribution towards redeeming the image of women.
1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
The main purpose of this study is to show the selected authors portrayal of the respective identification of the role culture and feminism play in repositioning of women in the society. Also the study purposes to taking an overview of the African woman in relation to the concept and movement of feminism, in the themes of these text which depicts the present position of the African woman.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study when successfully completed will serve as a document that portrays how literature:
i. Challenges, debunk and confront the rude negative conception of the female.
ii. Represent the image of the woman correctly in the feministic sense.
iii. Reveal the reason why people must see women as agent in the society whose feelings should be respected.
iv. Depict how the image of womanhood was portrayed in Africa cultural perspective before and after the advent of feminism in African literature.
v. To salute my fellow true African feminist for t heir courage and dignity.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions are to guide the direction of the study.
i. What makes females suffers of gender inequality?
ii. What is t he role of African societal culture in gender inequality perpetration?
iii. How does feminism stand as a tool of salvaging the female ego?
iv. What contributions have some selected authors made in the manifestation of protest against gender inequality?
v. What does the African women think about this protest?
vi. What are the contributions of some Nigerian radical feminists in solving this problem?
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This related investigative literature is focused against gender inequality and its manifestation so far in the scenario of protest. Consequently, the above subject matter has been designed to cover five selected literature texts viz; the Wives Revolt, So Long a Letter, Second Class Citizen; The Women of Orena are wiser than the gods, The Dragon’s Funeral.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Patriarchy: A societal system of a country or state that is ruled or controlled by men.
Patronage: Word used to describe the relationship between father and child that continues in a family of each generation.
Cultural: Connected with culture which means the customs and beliefs, arts, way of life and social organization of a particular group of people.
Feminism: A claim by women for right equal with men.
Feminist: Someone that is in support of feminism.
Revolt: To resist a particular authority.