Some Aspects of Gender Inequality in Selected African Literary texts/Aspekte Van Geslagsongelykheid in Geselekteerde Literere Werke Uit Afrika

Article excerpt


This article focuses on gender inequalities in selected African literary texts. I explore the way in which some African writers view gender inequalities and stereotypes in their characters. We will also be able to see who is involved and affected by these gender inequalities and how. Gender theory will be used as a framework. The aspects of gender that are discussed, include gender stereotypes, gender roles, gender identity, the superiority of men, inequality in polygamous marriages, sex roles, the sexual division of labour and arranged marriage. This study will also include the views of writers from other part of Africa. These views have a lot in common but sometimes they vary because of the influence and different ideologies of the society concerned.

Key concepts:






Hierdie artikel fokus op geslagsongelykhede in geselekteerde literere werke uit Afrika. Ek ondersoek die wyse waarop sommige skrywers van Afrika geslagsongelykhede en stereotipes in hulle karakters sien. Ook sal gesien kan word wie betrokke is en wie deur hierdie ongelykhede geraak word en hoedanig. Geslagsteorie sal as 'n raamwerk gebruik word. Die aspekte van geslagrolle wat bespreek word, sluit in geslagstereotipes, geslagsrolle, -identiteit, die superioriteit van mans, ongelykheid in poligame huwelike, die verdeling van arbeid gebaseer op geslag en gereelde huwelike. Die artikel sluit ook die menings van skrywers van ander dele van Afrika in. Dit is opmerklik dat hulle sienings sterk ooreenkom, maar soms verskil as gevolg van die invloed en die verskillende ideologiee van die betrokke gemeenskap.






1. Introduction

Pilcher and Wheelehan (2004:56) state that the concept of gender, as it is used today, came into common usage during the early 1970s. They further state that it was used as an analytical category to draw a line between biological sex differences and the way these are used to inform behaviours and competencies, which are then assigned as either "masculine" or "feminine". In this article the term gendered will be used when analysing certain issues. Something is said to be gendered when its character is either masculine or feminine, or when it exhibits patterns of difference by gender. It gives expression to action, or doing of gender and it signifies outcomes that are socially constructed and gives men advantages over women.

The term gender has been used to refer to social, cultural and psychological aspects of masculinity and femininity. Gender is also known as the amount of masculinity or femininity found in a person. Gender is defined by Scott in Zinsser (1993:54) as

[a] constitutive element of social relationships based on perceived differences between the sexes, the knowledge that establishes meanings for bodily difference ...

This extract emphasises the social differences between female and male and it is this difference that prevents women and men from participating equally in social, political, economic and cultural life. Stanley (quoted in Jackson & Scott, 2002:31) states that gender refers to culturally ascribed notions about "femininity" and "masculinity". Gender is used as a basic category, and once people decide what you are, they interpret everything you do in the light of that. Gender means the socially defined capacities and attributes assigned to persons on the basis of sexual characteristics. People make gender attributions; they decide whether someone is male or female when they see them. These gender attributions form the foundation for understanding other components of gender such as gender roles (behaving like a female or male) and gender identity (feeling like a female or male).

Sex is related to gender. Some people even confuse sex and gender or sometimes they are used interchangeably. …


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