Renowned feminist scholar, Dr. Yetunde Olubunmi Akorede, has disclosed that contrary to the general belief that men are the architect of women’s misfortunes, gender oppression also exists among women. AKEEM NAFIU writes
A lecturer in the Department of English, Adeyemi College of Education (ACE), Ondo, Dr (Mrs) Yetunde Akorede, has charged women to assert themselves by using their God given talents positively, in order to contribute meaningfully to the society.
Speaking on Tuesday at the fifth inaugural lecture of the Adeyemi College of Education, titled, “Gender dialectics: Imprisoned in the castle of her being. This is the key, where is the door?” Conceptualizing emphasis of feminist theory, Akorede stated that the central concern of gender theory is to, “raise the women’s consciousness through a strong reassessment of the actuality of what she has been made to believe about herself in order to appreciate what she has the capacity and capability to become.”
Akorede expressed her displeasure at the rate at which women-women oppression is growing in the society. She highlighted the important role which women play in societal development and bemoaned what she described as “the paucity of documentation of the African women’s achievements in oral and written history.”
The language expert also expressed displeasure at the negative image of woman’s person and role as indicated by some African writers, where they were regarded as destroyers of peace and tranquility.
While giving kudos to women such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Emmeline Pankhurst, Gauge, Terwagne and DeBeauvoir in countries like Britain, United States of America and France, for spearheading women emancipation and struggle against female political and economic subjugation, Akorede said the development “prepared grounds for some of the benefits many women take for granted today and opened their eyes to reality of being females.”
This, he added, “prepared the ground for release of contemporary women from the prison of being.”
While revealing that her findings stemmed from her extensive study of African literature and in-depth research, the scholar noted with dismay that the unfortunate experience goes side by side with the already established male oppression of females in patriarchy societies.
“I stumbled on the key that made male oppression of female almost a child’s play when compared to what females suffer in the hands of other females premised on the index of the varying degrees of use of women’s social, economic and domestic powers on other females within their scope of authority. My research into gender issues has concentrated on the gap left by feminist theorists to bring to the fore the oppressive relationships that exist between women and women,” she said.
The gender scholar stated that, although her initial desire was to further, expose the tendencies supporting oppression, marginalization, dehumanization and depersonalization of women by men in African traditional and contemporary societies, her focus has broadened the frontier of women’s oppression from the confines of interpreting literary works to include gender and cultural studies.
She added that the explosive nature of women-women interactions helped defined her findings on women’s oppression of women as portrayed in characters in African novels and their relationships.
She listed factors fueling women-to-women conflicts to include education, partiality and favoritism for the younger wife, the husband’s rejection of senior wife and the reluctance of senior wife to accept junior wife.
She noted that a degree of preferential treatment given to the first daughter of a family if not extended to the younger daughter could lead to rivalry between two young girls, saying “as insignificant as this may appear at the house level, it nonetheless grows to fuel a conflict-relationship which may aggravate into open hostility and unchecked enmity between the sisters.”
She further argued that there is the need to create more awareness of the prevalence of women-to-women oppression by gender scholars and the society at large with the goal of finding an ending solution or completely eradicating the malady.
On female/male conceptions of female beauty, the African Literature Gender and Cultural Studies expert stated that perception on femine beauty is both personal and cultural based and stated that “women’s personal perception, their integration of “male look” and their internationalization of their society’s standard for ideal female attractiveness promote the desire to look acceptable at all cost. This also accounts for the rise in female’s demands for various beauty enhancing procedures,” she remarked.
Speaking on features of female attractiveness, Dr. (Mrs) Akorede explained that from the outcome of the research she carried out, the female face, mouth and skin are usually the first point of attraction for males, adding that the development “explains females concentration on making the face desirable.”
She however appealed to people holding leadership positions in the country to embark on orientation and re-orientation of females and males through good literature.”
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