A GENDER ANALYSIS ON NOVEL FACENESS BY AMMA DARKO
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1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Gender is the state of being male or female and typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones. Gender unfairness is not based solely on gender differences but on how people are treated differently because of their sex (Kolawole, 1998). Most of the changes in the gender system heralded as “revolutionary” involve women moving into positions and activities previously limited to men, with few changes in the opposite direction. The source of this asymmetry is an aspect of society’s valuation and reward system that has not changed much—the tendency to devalue and badly reward activities and jobs traditionally done by women. Women have made great contributions in their various communities cutting across the gamut of the ethnic nationalities that populate what is presently known as Ghana (Ikoni, 2002).
Darko’s emergent voice gives a new feminist perspective on the issues of gender and class in contemporary African writing. She explores a recurrent theme of sexual exploitation of the most vulnerable members of society. Throughout her fictional works (Beyond the Horizon, 1995; Housemaid, 1998; Faceless, 2003; and Not Without Flowers, 2007, sexuality becomes an overarching metaphor to examine the values of Ghanaian society. Faceless surpasses the other works in artistic intensity and complexity. In this novel, Darko defines feminine sexuality in terms of a complex trope of transformation from voicelessness to voice and movement beyond facelessness to attain face or personhood. Darko seeks a way out of this prolonged nightmare by rendering women visible and by creating feminine voice and space. She urges women to revive their voice to sustain their lives. The women in Faceless are stigmatized, yet they engage in courageous acts to throw off the yoke of oppression in a male-dominated society.
According GodessBvukutwa, patriarchy is so rooted in most African contexts that trying to separate it from our humanity is unfathomable for the most part. Meanwhile, apologists (including women) insist on equality between the sexes is a Western notion that will never work in an African creation. Moreover, Lady Bvukutwa argued that after years of listening to the same rhetoric by many men, government officials and even some women, this genre is a borrowed word, that gender equality is A Western notion that Africans imported, and stuck in African contexts; And therefore the same gender equality will never work in an African institution. However, Cham, Mbyre (2012: 89) stated that patriarchy was defined as a system of sexual power. It is a network of social, political and economic relations through which men dominate and control female labor, reproduction and sexuality, and define the status, privileges and rights of women in a society.
It is a successful system because those who obtain this privilege are often unaware of it and consequently perpetuate involuntarily the ill treatment of people in this society whose suffering is the fulcrum on which this society turns. According to Kolawole, Mary (2011: 116), this social system has managed to survive for a long time because its main psychological weapon is its universality as well as its longevity. It is difficult for many people to imagine a time when this system did not exist. It is even harder for people to imagine a future less patriarchal. But this must change (Kolawole, 116). Given that Labeodan (2012: 76) argued that a complete revision of our mentalities when it comes to African culture must take place if there is hope for the Black Consciousness Movement in this century.
On the other hand, since time immemorial, Nigerian society has been a patriarchal society (Aina, 2013). The patriarchal structure was a major feature of traditional society. It is a structure of a set of social relations with a material basis that allows men to dominate women (Makward, 272). It is a system of social stratification and differentiation on the basis of sex, which provides material benefits to men while at the same time imposing severe constraints on the roles and activities of women. There are clearly defined gender roles, while various taboos ensure compliance with gender-specific roles (Aina 2013: 6). Traditionally, men do not participate in domestic work, including the education of children – these tasks are considered to be the exclusive domain of women. Men are classified as having the following qualities: strength, vigor, virile / powerful courage, self-confidence and ability to meet the outside world, that is, animals and human intruders and treat effectively. These qualities were reflected in the kind of work to which men were engaged. Men were responsible for much of what was thought to be “heavy work”. In short, men provided their families (Ogundipe-Leslie, Molara, 2012). Women supervise household chores. They kept the houses, processed and cooked all the food. They also assist in the planting and harvesting of food crops and cash crops. They were mainly responsible for the port and education of children from birth; Men were only expected to attend when extraordinary discipline was deemed necessary, especially for boys (Ogunyemi, 2011).
However, Okoli, Nkechi (2008: 57) argued that women, most often, played a secondary role in African literature, or in the words of Charles C. Fonchingong, marginalized. They were attributed mainly to the role of mother or wife, but always in the context of a woman assisting the head of the household either as a mother provides an heir or a wife taking care of the household affairs and showing herself worthy of his bed. As if the roles were not degrading enough, cultural norms and traditions surrounding these roles are themselves a definition of oppression (Okoli, 57). Women were described as more of a commodity than a self-aware being and this was refreshed in various games where the girl had to marry at an early age so that the family could use the bride’s money to send the son for education. In other cases, any mother who can not give birth to a son (heir of a patriarchal society) has been bullied and, in severe cases, punished. And it was still preferable to a sterile woman (Olukemi-Kusa, Dayo, 210).
1.2 Statement of the problem
The most dangerous thing is the inability of many Africans to separate African culture from the systems that oppress the freedoms of African women. It is this inability to see a future where African culture is not tinged with patriarchal nuances which is the greatest threat to the Black Conscience Movement. Then Orabueze, (114) asserted that it is necessary that we disassemble what it means to be African and look more closely at what customs are just dishes and what defines our culture. My hope is to make understand patriarchy, African culture and the need to separate the two. However, patriarchy is a social formation according to Opara, Chioma, (2008) in which the male sex plays the dominant role in collective social existence.
On the other hand, patriarchy is a social system in which men hold the primary power and predominate in the roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property. More so, the projection of power over each material, physical or otherwise, is a shallow and primordial approach to problem solving. This frightening method has existed since patriarchy became the dominant social order through various human collectives.
Vasilyeva Ayala argues that “women as a group are supposed to share a characteristic trait, experience, condition or common criterion that defines their gender and the possession of certain persons as women (as opposed to men, for example)”. Ayala added that all women are considered different from all men in this regard (or respects). For example, MacKinnon thought that being treated in a sexually objectifying way is the common condition that defines the gender of women and what women and women share. All women differ from all men in this regard. In addition, highlighting females that are not sexually objectified does not provide a counterexample to the sight of MacKinnon. To be objectified sexually is constitutive of being a woman; a woman who escapes sexual objectification, then, would not count as a woman. (732).
1.3 Aims and Objectives.
The aim of this study is to discuss gender analysis on novel faceless by Amma Darko.
The specific objectives are to:
- analyze the gender aspect on novel faceless by Amma Darko
- examine feminism on novel faceless by Amma Darko
- describe the detestable environment in faceless by Amma Dako
- determine the nature of men – masculinity and male dominance
- Research questions
- To what extent would gender aspect on novel faceless by Amma Darko be analyzed?
- What is the role of feminism on novel faceless by Amma Darko?
- Does women playwrights and female imaging in contemporary Africa emerge?
- What is the nature of men – masculinity and male dominance?
1.5 Significance of the study
The significance and importance of this study lies in the fact that gender equality in the area of gender roles and responsibilities is one of the principles of the women’s liberation movement. The division of labor in these areas has been important to the movement as it is perceived as a major obstacle to professional equality for men and women. As long as women are in charge of a household and children while pursuing a career, they can never devote enough time and energy to professional demands to compete with men who can and are encouraged to devote all their time and energy to pursuing careers. The study also hopes to highlight the problem associated with gender and make use of improving equality thereby minimizing the problems associated with gender in its environment. Finally, the study will inform the whole, the nature of men – masculinity and male dominance.
1.6 Research methodology
This research is mainly empirical, using the conventional approach as the framework for our data analysis. The study of gender is given an apt attention in our analysis. Our analysis, though solely drawn from Amma Darko: Faceless.
1.7 Scope and limitations of the study
This study is to discuss gender analysis on novel faceless by Amma Darko. The study will also look at feminism usually to show how women have developed over time both intellectually, socially and culturally. Due to limited funds and time, this research has faced many problems and limitations. The major problem acting as a limitation was due to financial constraints, the scope and size of this study could not be exceeded.