FEMINIST CRITICISMS OF SOME SELECTED FEMINIST WORKS
There are view shared by all feminists is that women are discriminated against on account of their sex. Feminists stress the relevant of gender segregation in society and it present these segregation as working to the overall advantage of men. Although feminists are united with their shared desire for sexual justice and their concern for women’s welfare, there is a range spectrum of feminist views.
TWO OF THE MORE FAMOUS PROPONENTS OF FEMINISM ARE:
Ann Oakley, a British sociologist and writer, born 1944. Her works include ‘Women Confined: Towards sociology of childbirth.’(1980) and ‘Who’s afraid of Feminism?’ (1997). her father was a social policy theorist.
Claire Wallace, a British sociologist and writer. Wallace was a professor at Aberdeen University. Her most famous work is ‘An Introduction to Sociology: Feminist Perspectives’ (1990). Wallace was president of the European Sociology Association 2007-09.
FEMINIST LITERARY CRITICISM
Feminist literary criticism is informed by feminist theory . It can be understood as using feminist principles and ideological discourses to critique the language of literature, its structure and being. This school of thought seeks to describe and analyze the ways in which literature portrays the narrative of male domination in regard to female bodies by exploring the economic, social, political, and psychological forces embedded within literature.
Feminist literary criticism is literary analysis that arises from the view point of feminism, feminist theory and/or feminist politics. Basic methods of feminist literary criticism include:
- Identifying with female characters: This is a way to challenge the male-centred outlook of authors. Feminist literary criticism suggests that women in literature were historically presented as objects seen from a male perspective.
- Re-evaluating literature and the world in which literature is read: This involves questioning whether society has predominantly valued male authors and their literary works because it has valued males more than females.
A feminist literary critic resists traditional assumptions while reading. In addition to challenging assumptions which were thought to be universal, feminist literary criticism actively supports including women’s knowledge in literature and valuing women’s experiences.
The notion is that men use the smoke screen of culture, politics, economic, tradition, and all other sectors of the society to adulate patriarchy at the expense of the female gender. Even in the dramatic concept we hardly see many of these female writers except for the likes of Osonye Tess Onwueme who is the god mother of feminism in Nigeria, Tracy Chima Utoh, the late Zulu Sofola and few others. This impression is misleading, as some male writers like J.P Clark, Femi Osofisan, Kole Omotosho, Ngugi Wa Thiongu, Ola Rotimi and others have all addressed feminism in their various works. However, we shall analyse Ola Rotimi’s our husband has gone mad again and J.P Clark’s “The wives Revolt” as the address the issue of feminism.
An intellectual x-ray of scholarly write-ups on the subject of feminism creates the notion that the subjugation of Africa women is a product of a society dominated by male. Women are exploited and oppressed in all sectors of the economy. Observably, his call for social change has been the subject of discourse by many contemporary dramatists.
However, one aspect of ola rotimi’s feminist literary criticism has been glossed over by many, in his call for female empowerment in the political circle or scenario. Rotimi does not hide his disgust for political class who is bereft of creating ideas, yet continue to hold the nation captive. Toying with the idea of female empowerment in such a set up, therefore, amount to tacit call for revolt. Rotimi is however, not unaware of the fact that men dominate the political, economic, social, education and even in the traditional setting where women are reduced to house wives not allowing them to contribute important matters of the state. Therefore, his recipe for a new system that will empower female as collective actions by the women; casting away the garments of subservient, ignorance and passiveness. Salami(2001:158) is of the view that:
“One way of breaking unto the male political circle and
Destroying the myth of male political monopoly in Nigeria
is to get involved in politics and government, so as to influence
Legislation and policies to favor women”
This can only happen when the women develop a new political consciousness and drive within themselves to fight for power transfer. The women can exploit the high handedness, political naivety and dictatorial tendencies characteristic of most men.
OUR HUSBAND HAS GONE MAD AGAIN
Emmanuel Gladstone ola rotimi until his death was a recognized political analyst and strong advocate of social change. He has explored cultural, historical, religious and social means of effecting the type of change, which places emphasis on the welfare of the masses. Saint Gbilekaa (1997:151) says rotimi uses his plays to “avail his audience of the knowledge of the past, for the reconstruction or social engineering of the present and future”. In the process, he has frequently denounced the political elite as being corrupt, exploitative, oppressive, and self –centered.
In his play our husband has gone mad again, he condemns via satire, the political system of the nation where the best candidates are not elected to political positions.
However, so many issues were raised on feminist literary criticism. He calls for female empowerment in the political circle. His call is prompted by the fact that pre- and post independence governance, characteristically dominated by male politicians, has plunged most African nations into the dark abyss. Thus their continued stay in the political scene will further destroy the surviving social structures which guarantee societal well being. If men have failed consistently to provide good leadership, then a credible alternative needs to be tried out, this time, the female politicians. Therefore, his recipe for new political arrangement that will empower female politicians is premised on a collective action by the woman after casting out the old order.
A case study of Lejoka Brown who is defeated by Sikira the emergency wife and the daughter of Madam Ajanaku and becomes the flag bearer of the party in the place of her erstwhile husband with the help of her mother and Lisa’s new female empowerment and consciousness.
Ola Rotimi chronicles some set of politicians who refuses to appreciate the fact the society is dynamic and would require dynamism to be able to cope with challenges of governance; rather than cling to archaic ideas. Thus:
“Are you there…..? Politics is the thing now in Nigeria,
Mate. You want to be famous? Politics. You want to
Chop life? No, no you want to chop a big slice of the
National cake? Na politics….. (p.4).”
This creates the impression of a society dominated by male chauvinism. The notion derives from the presence of the loquacious Lejoka-Brown who pervades the political terrain like a mighty colossus. On the other hand, the woman is conceived as a Lilliputian who is completely domesticated. Lejoka brown is the boss, who must be obeyed and served. He rides on both the political and traditional performs to wield his power. While he discusses “important” matters of the state with Okonkwo, Sikira is made to run errands and provide comfort for her “Lord” (p.6). Sikira, who must kneel while greeting her ‘lord’, is regarded as a mere property, a thing recently acquired by Lejoka Brown as a for political convenience, while mama Rashida is being domicile by culture. Thus both women are subservient, enslaved by the duo of tradition and illiteracy
Again, Sikira also takes a critical look at her position in the house and returns a harsh verdict on herself-a slave. This verdict is an expression of the despair and frustration arising from patronizing attitude of Lejoka brown. She sees herself as mere ‘possession’, acquired by her husband for political expediency. Her frustration is reflective of the plight of women who are purchased, caged and inhibited from political aspiration by a male dominant society. Thus
” …….in this house? A slave that is what I am.
Did he marry me because He loves me or
because of crazy politics?”
Furthermore, Mustafa’s visit to Lejoka Brown’s house is used to accentuate the captive position of the women in the society. While Mustafa’s precautionary measures and entrance (p.16) are hypocritical and exaggerated, they help to highlight the degradation and subjugation of womanhood. This is because the Africa woman has never been given an equal status with her male counterpart, so she has had to play an unedifying subordinate role and to also accept that it was her place to do so. Thus Mama Rashida and Sikira must draw their veils and make their faces well shrouded (p.16) like masquerades before they can attend to their male visitors. They kneel and remain so, all through Mustafa’s discussion with them; indicative of a relio-cultural servitude status conferred on the women by the society. The subjugation remains in force, until Liza is introduced and the ‘man’s world begins to disintegrate.
Lisa is a beautiful young Kenyan lady, who got married to Lejoka Brown in the court registry, during the Belgian wars. She rendered a voluntary service with the Red Cross organization before proceeding to America to study medicine. These intimidating credentials portray Lisa as an educated and liberated young lady who would fight for her rights, much in the same way as her pedigree the Kenyan Mau Mau warriors. This might explain Rotimi’s choice of the Kenyan lady, in preference to her timid Nigeria counterpart, to instigate the revolt against female oppression. This Lisa’s credentials are enough to unnerve the undulation Ijebu ijesha farmer, who collapses from his colossal status into a mere political minion. Her telegram to Lejoka Brown about her home coming is disconcerted to him. Two issues is crop up how to explain the presence of the other two women to Liza and possibility of security the market women’s votes with her intrusion becomes his main problems.
Lisa’s arrival changes the atmosphere of slavery in Lejoka Browns’s house. Although brown attempts to maintain the status quo, he is rebuffed and cut down by Lisa. She speaks above him, unintentionally widening the social gap, and reinforcing the inferiority complex that drove Lejoka Brown to his political pursuit.
Lisa turns out to the embodiment of feminism, which believes in equality of human beings, irrespective of gender. Her belief runs counter to the prevalent ideology within the political class, which eulogizes male superiority. This evidence in the unequal appointment of leadership positions due to gender factors. Thus one of the lessons Lisa that Sikira learns through Lisa’s indoctrination is the expression that men and women are born equal. This effects a new mental orientation and creates another visionary disposition in Sikira. Mama Rashida also rises to new level of awareness. The economic principles of demand and supply, which she learns about her egg business frees her from the chains of domestic chores. She is captivated by the thought of making enough which Lejoka Brown can borrow for his political campaign, on interest. Deductively, economic empowerment will enhance her social status. She further discovers that she can live independently, by going to the village to set up her business.
Lekoka Brown fails to notice the change in the women. He also fails to recognize the fact that the women have developed new personality profiles and a change in their attitude and disposition to life. Thus, he backs out an order to Sikira.
“You are one of the crazy headaches I ve
been crazy enough to get into my crazy
head! Now get out of here
Sikira(to Liza). You heard that? (Lejoka
Brown, backing away) all right, i
Will! I will get out of here. (rushes towards
the rear door, Stops, pokes her head round,
and coos) men and women
Are created equal!(bolts out, slamming
door shut quickly behind her).”