Sexuality and Emancipation
Socially and politically, women are starting to find their way. Recent changes have sometimes taken place at lightning speed. Today's women are vigorous, creative, and full of promise. African women express themselves in every arena, including the arts (once rare), especially modern art forms and writing. Women are renewing song and dance forms and beginning to move into film. Their very rise and the way in which they--strong women, heads of households in countryside and city, microentrepreneurs and prosperous businesswomen, activists, writers, and artists--are becoming aware of just what is at stake for them, of their struggles and constraints, reveal just how difficult things have become for them.
African men's way of looking at women and the perception women have of themselves are imprinted with social ideologies that are often still extremely conservative. Social ritual is often long-lived. Anything concerning the essence of the feminine, whether it is little girls' upbringing, young women's initiation, or dominant beliefs about marriage or maternity or even death, is marked by a complicated heritage still felt heavily today. It is perhaps even less possible today than before to speak of "the" African woman. What common denominator is there between a country girl and a city girl, between an educated girl and one who has never seen the inside of a schoolroom, between the woman who works within the capitalist system and one working in the informal sector, between the woman endowed with children and one who is sterile, between the one who uses contraception and AIDS prevention and the woman who is beyond all hope because she lacks the means