Feminism in the Nigerian Theatre: A Dialogic Assessment of Ola Rotimi’s Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again
Feminism in the Nigerian theatre: a Dialogic assessment of Ola Rotimi’s Our Husband has gone Mad again- The reign of Wazobia
2.1.1 LITERATURE REVIEW
There is no disputing the fact that the history of the world has been dominated by men, yet there is no historical evidence that at any point in time there have been more men than women. Yet this equality- average is lost when one follows the parity in terms of the volumes of scholarship available on almost any topic. Women are often time less represented or even ill-represented. This lopsided reality beggars the question of why is there such disparity in the first place, are there changes now? What could the past tell us about the realities of these facts?
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The 18th century witnessed the rise of gender questions and agitations by women such a Mary Wallstone and Betty Friedens who agitated for the recognition of the female gender against the widely circulated philosophies of scholars then such as Eduad Burk and Jean Jagues Rousseau, who advocated the total exclusion of women from all social right in the society. Though this is not the starting point of the social discrimination of women both from the stand point of Philosophical postulations at that time, this was the critical junction from which women begin to intellectually engage the issues of discrimination by postulating a counter argument. This form of agitation became known as feminism- which seeks the equality of the sexes-both in public life and in legal status within the society.
One fact becomes obvious in the attempt to define feminism, it is that it means different thing to different people depending on their race, culture, and historical background and even from the context in which it is used, – and this is so due to the dynamic nature of humanity and the ever changing nature of the term itself. In Nigeria, feminism is essentially viewed as woman’s struggle to gain equality with men and to become powerful as man by sharing and occupying positions of power. Feminism transcends all that, primarily, feminism is a collection of perceptions, theories and beliefs that prioritized women issues in view of their suppressed role and standing in the society. It means the awareness of a woman’s view for fairness in such situations. In the quest for this correction and fairness, the woman’s moves to a new position that will provide her autonomy, self-assertion and empowerment. In what Barbara Berg concludes as
“The freedom from society’s oppressive restrictions: freedom to express her thoughts and the space to convert them into action”. This new position, she continues does not and should not “depend on the relationships in her life” (24). This freedom to evolve into her natural self without the social construction of identity that she has been made to perform in order to be seen as woman. Ann Taylor (43) positions feminism as a form of protest against institutionalized injustice perpetrated by men as a group, and advocates the elimination of that injustice, by changing the various structures that empowers and sustain such structures that often time leads to the legitimatization of male prerogatives as the ultimate in the society.
The main concern of feminism is realigning the prevailing social structures that have consciously or unintentionally render women to be at the receiving end of social and institutional outcomes as victims instead of partners in the society. Feminism is both a social movement and an ideological belief system- ideologically – it aims to recess the situation of women in the society by unravelling the myriad of male domination and the resultant women subordination, with the hope of liberating women from such masculine perspective about life- which has historically arrogated male roles to the disadvantage of women’s. As a movement, feminism seeks to eliminate all systems that sustains and validates violent prepositions and inequality, that promotes exclusions or reinforce gender domination. Therefore in the conclusion of Oakley Obrind (233), “A feminist is someone who holds that women suffer discrimination because of their sex, that they have specific needs which remain negated and unsatisfied”.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS
Despite the total difference in the period and time in which these two plays were written and coupled with variance of the approach to the issues treated, both plays conveniently show considerable links in terms of subject matter and thematic pre-occupation, showing that female marginalization is a universal phenomenon, in whatever flora one chooses to look at it from.
The story lines are not the same, yet the undercurrent issue of women representation runs through both plays. While Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again is crafted on the political system in Nigeria and the Yoruba traditional beliefs in custom regarding marriage and female involvement in the public sphere, so also in Wazobia, where the question of the tussle for power is predominately skewed on the account of Wazobia’s gender first, rather than her ingenuity of capabilities.
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