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We should all be feminists

“Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice. I am angry. We should all be angry. Anger has a longer history of bringing about positive change.”

I am angry, we should all be angry is so powerful so powerful it can stand alone. In her essay, “We Should All Be Feminists”, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie suggests that in order to change the way society views gender we have to start by not being angry but not dismiss everything women do to fight for their rights as unhappy men hating feminists. In every moment where women try to fight for their rights men call them ungrateful and bitter. That they will never be happy for what they have, these men believe that women are asking for the world. However Adichie is trying to prove that we aren’t asking for much but what we deserve. We would like to be treated equal to men, white men at that. These women are not bitter and angry for the wrong reasons, instead their cause has basis. Women are treated unjust but with this anger we have inside of us and bring about change. Not just feminist but every women, man and child. This cause is about everyone, equality for all no matter what race you are apart of. Feminism is about being angry and hating mean, on the contrary it’s about bringing equality for women no matter the race. It’s also about bringing men color to the same level as their white male counterparts. This anger that we have built inside of us can help end this grave injustice not only for women now but for all in the future.

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We Should All Be Feminists

“We teach girls shame. Close your legs. Cover yourself. We make them feel as though by being born female, they are already guilty of something.”

In her essay, “We Should All Be Feminists”, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie suggests that in order to change the way society views gender we have to start by raising our children differently. In the above quote Adichie mentions that girls are always taught to behave in a certain manner if they want to be respected by boys. If a girl shows too much skin or behaves in a boisterous manner then she is at fault if a boy disrespects her. In other words, boys are incapable controlling themselves so we have to teach girls to protect themselves from boys. Boys are not taught that girls are worthy of respect regardless of their attire or behavior. Instead, boys are taught that it is acceptable to express their sexual desires and aggression towards girls because it makes them seem more masculine. The problem is that in teaching our children to think this way we make these children feel ashamed to be their true selves. We tend to associate masculinity and feminity with a person’s behavior but in reality these are just social constructs. Male, female, masculine, and feminine are nothing more than labels. With the exception of physical features there is no difference between male and female. Men and women are capable of exhibiting the same behaviors. Adichie suggest that we need to to teach our children to be who they want to be, not who they should be based on a label that society has created for them. A woman is not less of  a woman just because she does not like cooking, in the same way that a man does not become any less of a man just because he enjoys cooking. If we enable our children to be confident in their true self then we eliminate the pressure of having to fulfill certain roles in order to qualify as one gender or another.

 

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We Should All Be Feminists – Adichie

“What matters even more is our attitude, our mindset.

What if, in raising children, we focus on ability instead of gender? What if we focus on interest instead of gender?”

The Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Adichie’s following question compels the reader to think about the potential and success of children outside of the cages of gender. It is a universal custom for boys to be presented with privileges and benefits of doubts their entire lives, whereas girls are usually seen as a liability in most cases.  Letting society continue favoring one gender over another without much regards to individual intelligence is a formula for regression and failure. To an extent, it is a path paved towards abuse and self-hate. Adichie offers a personal example of when she wasn’t allowed to be the class monitor even though she had the highest score amongst the students. Her teacher assumed that a boy would get the highest score because he is a boy and is considered superior to a girl. This example illustrates how the Nigerian society discriminates the young children by their gender identity and discourages girls from utilizing their own potential.

Adichie also makes a point of how society has become desensitized to the unfair treatment and expectations of women; examples being that men earn more than women, or men holding powerful positions such as CEO or President while women achieving such success as a rare occurrence.

In addition to custom-created educational barriers, and professional barriers, women also face constriction in sociable etiquettes. A woman can’t be too loud, it’s not lady-like. A woman can’t be too aggressive, men don’t like a woman to be in charge so she should take the back seat and let the man be in control. A woman shouldn’t convey her anger, she might be seen as hormonal and hysterical. A woman should simply just take; take what the world allows her and be grateful for it. Be soft because its feminine and men are attracted to femininity. Act sweet and gentle so a man may want to marry her. After all, an unmarried, non-procreating woman is a waste of a uterus. Men are taught that as men, it is their responsibility to earn money and pay all bills because society’s standards of masculinity is in a man’s ability to earn, provide and protect. A woman wanting to do those things for her family is seen as overstepping her feminine boundaries. Focusing on domestic work should always be a priority no matter what her professional ranking is.

The writer encourages the readers to change the gender inequality that has become a social norm and raise the next generation differently where the children would be treated equally, would receive the same opportunity to follow their dreams regardless their gender which is nothing more than biology.

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Death and the kings horseman

Olunde: You forget that I have now spent four years among your people. I discovered that you have no respect for what you do not understand (158)

The two characters in this specific part in the scene are Jane and Olunde. We notice how Jane tries to tell olunde that going to Europe was good for him and has made him a civilized man. She doesn’t necessarily says this directly however she implies this by saying “look at you, what a fine man you have become.” She is trying to imply that her superiority to the that of the African people, that they are savages and don’t act like humans. As the scene unravels we see know that Jane is getting ready for the ball in which Olunde notices her attire, specifically how hot she must be. Olunde knows that Europeans are not “made” to wear this Yorubean traditional attire as it is too hot. Olunde specifically says “your skin” she as a white women is not equipped to handle such clothing. However Jane doesn’t make a big deal of her culture appropriation saying that it’s for a good cause. She says it as if the Yoruba people are living in a constant dress up party, dismissing all of the traditional meanings to the clothing they wear. Which brings Olunde to the point in which he says mildly “and that is the good cause for which you desecrate an ancestral mask.” This mask along with all the other pieces of clothing are very important in the Yoruba tradition however, the white men and women take it as dress up. She doesn’t show any respect towards Olunde and his traditions. I believe the reason for this is because she might believe that him going to Europe has changed his beliefs and that it did him good, meaning that he converted to Christianity. Olunde specifically in this scene shows Jane that he and his people are not beneath her, that he is just as smart and humane as her. He in a very respectfully and rather smart way challenges her and her European beliefs. Even though he does this she seems to brush off his comments and go back to pitying him and his culture, back to believing that he just like his people. You notice how Jane and her people are so closed minded and only think that their beliefs and traditions are right. She along with her people believe that the Yoruba people aren’t humans but savages and the only way that they can be human is by converting to Christianity. This is something that Olunde has come to fully understand and finds no hope trying to change that because he knows how they are as he spent years surrounded by them.

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Death and the Kings Horseman

Natacha Peguero

Pilkings- [to Iyaloja] I hope you understand that if anything goes wrong it will be on your head. My men have orders to shoot at the first sign of trouble.

Iyaloja – To prevent one death you will actually make other deaths? Ah, great wisdom white race.

Elesin is taken to jail against the Yoruba people’s wishes. Simon Pilkings believes that if he keeps Elesin there overnight, during Elesin ritual suicide, Simon would stop an uprising. Elesin and Iyaloja try to explain to Simon that Yoruba are just following tradition and this has nothing to do with the British colonist. Simon is stubborn with he’s beliefs and threaten Iyaloja and try to make her feel guilty. Pilkings states “I hope you understand that if anything goes wrong it will be on your head.” Yet this does not have an impact on Iyaloja.

During this passage Iyaloja is making fun of Mr. Pilkings rigidness. Pilkings is very concern with Elesin suicide that he is willing to kill more Yoruba people to stop it. Simon is concern not because he cares about Elesin but because the British king is near and he does not want a disaster at that moment. Pilkings is being counter intuitive in his goal of keeping everything calm. Since the Yoruba people cannot have their ritual suicide they are all down in the jail cell making a scene. Iyaloja knows they will all leave peacefully including Elesin if they are able to continue with their ceremony. Simon Pilkings stubbornness does not make sense and this is why Iyaloja make fun of him by stating “Ah, great wisdom white race”.

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Death and the King’s Horseman by Wole Soyinka

“Elesin: Life has an end. A life that will outlive.”

In Elesin’s culture, tradition is vital, it gives their people a sense n how to live their life “properly”. Because of the traditions established in his culture, Elesin has to kill himself, however, he doesn’t associate his death with sadness, regrets or fear. Instead, it’s an honor because his legacy will leave on, just like it “should be”. Moreover, the traditions established give Elesin an unconventional perspective on death. Instead of seeing death as a tragic and mournful event, he celebrates it with a wedding. These traditions, in a sense, give Elesin comfort and motivation, this is most noticeable when he says, “Life has an end. A life that will outlive.” These customs could be seen as ridiculous and unfair to anyone outside of this culture, however, Soyinka portrays it as something worth being proud of because you are honoring your ancestors and those who come after you will honor you as well. Therefore, Soyinka embraces this tradition because it is what makes their life meaningful, they have a goal to fulfill.

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Death and the King’s Horseman

“Girl: Take your men out of here.

Amusa: I’m give you warning….

Girl: All right then. Off with his knickers!

Iyaloja: Daughters, please.

Amusa: The first woman wey touch me…

Iyaloja: My children, I beg of you…

Girl: Then tell him to leave this market. This is the home of our mothers. We don’t want the eater of white left-overs at the feast their hands have prepared.” (3046)

 

The scene where the Girl mocks Amusa is very witty, yet it also offers bits of knowledge into the troubles their native people were liable to because of the imperialism. Amusa is positively unlikeable, and is by all accounts a traitor to his folks by working for the pioneer chairmen. In any case, this decision makes a lot of sense under the circumstance. For people like Amusa and many different cases in territory of colonies thought that working with the Europeans would offer them monetary and social steadiness. Along these lines, Amusa can be viewed as an isolated character since he is part of a group of people that mistreats colonized individuals in various ways. He is in a difficult position, and makes the readers think of him in two different ways, both to ridicule and feel sorry about him.

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Death & The King’s Horseman

“These natives here? Good gracious. They’ll open their mouths and yap with you about their family secrets before you can stop them” (29).

Here, Simon Pilkings is talking about how the natives in the Yoruba village are eager to spread their business around to anyone that will listen. Similar to many instances throughout the play, Simon is being contradictory yet again. He is a colonist, who’s literal mission in Nigeria is to be nosy and to basically govern the natives. He is disgusted by the fact that the natives are eager to spread their business, when in reality the Pilkings and all the other colonialist are eager themselves to know what’s going on. In fact, their duty is to know what’s going on, and they fail at this when they are not even aware about the fact that the king’s horseman is planning on committing suicide soon.

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Death and The Kings Horsemen by Wole by Wole Soyinka

Natacha Peguero

Pilkings- What do you mean you don’t know?  It’s only two years since your conversion. Don’t tell me all that holy water nonsense also wiped out your tribal memory.

Joseph- [visibly shocked] Master!

Jane – Now you’ve done it

Pilkings – What have I done now?

Jane- Never

Death and The Kings Horsemen by Wole by Wole Soyinka goes back and forth between the lives of two groups one is indigenous Africans (Praise Singer, Elesin, and etc.) and the other British Colonizers (Jane, Joseph and etc.).  The British colonizers Jane and Simon Pilkings live in a house as slave owners and have noticed unusual drumming in the neighborhood. Pilkings ask Joseph, a slave, why is this occurring and what does it all mean. When Joseph is unable to give the Pilkings an answer Simon Pilkings insults Joseph traditional ways before enslavement which offends Joseph. Jane Pilkings dismisses the whole situation. This depicts the overall perspective Europeans had on Africans at the time. Europeans believed that Africans were peculiar and did not know a how behave sophisticated like them. “Don’t tell me … it wiped out your tribal memory” which meant that Joseph must have known about the weird and ghastly because of his origins, and no amount of conversion especially recent conversion can change that. In the process of insulting Joseph and expressing that Christianity is not strong enough to erase his memory. Simon Pilkings insults Christianity. Simon Pilkings express that Christianity is too weak to change Joseph traditional ways and call Christianity “holy water nonsense”. Simon Pilkings disrespects Joseph’s culture which leaves Joseph “[visibly shocked]” and also manages to disrespect his own. Pilkings believes that Christianity is too weak to change others who are different from him which incidentally offends his culture as a British Christian.

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Woman at Point Zero Ariela Baram

“I came to realize that a female employee is more afraid of losing her job than a prostitute is of losing her life. An employee is scared of losing her job and becoming a prostitute because she does not understand that the prostitute’s life is in fact better than hers.” (82)

In Nawal El Saawdawi’s Woman at Point Zero, the protagonist, Firdaus, is an abused woman who turns to prostitution as her last resort for finding some form of freedom in the repressive society she lives in. The above quote is from the point of Firdaus’ life when she tries to become a “respectable woman” and finds work in an office. In order to become “respectable”, she sacrifices her life of luxury for much more sufferable living conditions. The few years that she spends as an office worker, Firdaus learns of how mistreated “respectable” women are and witnesses male employees continuously dominate and hold significant power over the female employees.

She tells the narrator of how prostitutes have it better than these “respectable” women and the irony of the situation is apparent. In nearly every civilization throughout history, prostitutes are seen as the lowest members of that society. The thought of prostitution is revolting and people look at these sex workers as if they’re scum. For Firdaus to state that prostitutes live better than any office worker is a great criticism of gender inequality in Egypt. This quote is powerful in depicting this because it helps show that the only way a woman can have a sense of identity and autonomy is through this lowly profession as no other place in society will allow her to flourish.

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