FEMINIST PERSPECTIVES IN AMA ATA AIDOO’S CHANGES AND IFEOMA OKOYE’S BEHIND THE CLOUDS
In the 18th Century significant changes happened in the life of women, these changes brought about the various feminist movement where small groups of women introduced activities and the awareness of women’s right. The growth of feminism began in Europe and America when women became curious of their oppression and marginalization and took steps to re-dress this oppression by creating feminists movement.
Feminism is an ideology that refers to the social and psychological restraints placed on women. Feminism is a movement that demand the removal of all social, political, economic and other discrimination placed on women. The feminist movement is not concerned with achieving the differences in the sexes, but it is concerned with achieving equality for both sexes whereby the woman has the right to find out the person she is, and essentially strives to become that. Feminism is seen as a demand for political and social reform which is informed by the sexual differences created through societal oppression.
Feminists have secured a greater presence in academic business, politics and mass media. Feminists have succeeded through their literary work and campaigns or movement in drawing attention to the ways in which work has significantly affected historical developments. Feminist scholars have demonstrated the extent to which male bias has determined the normative assumptions of the social natural and behavioral sciences. In the arts, literary and artistic canons are no longer restricted to the works of men. The Feminist writer writes to tell about being a woman and to describe the reality from a woman’s point of view.
Feminism aims at projecting the place of women in the society by portraying their values by giving woman a chance in the society. The predominant concern of African woman writers is a new position of woman with the help of tradition and modernity to change woman’s consciousness in contemporary African Society.
Feminism deals more on the western issues about women, since the text are about African women the discussion will explore the womanism concept of gender issues. Bell Hooks (1988) accuses feminism of excluding black from participating in the movement according to her:
Feminism in the united state has never emerged from women who are most victimized by sexist oppression, women who are daily beaten down, martially, physically and spiritually. Women who are powerless to change their own condition of life. They are the silent majority.
Hooks view is that feminism coined by the western states, ignored the women in the black race due to racial differences, African women then saw the need to evolve an ideology that caters specifically for the needs of black women folk. The term womanism is said to have been coined by Alice Waker in her collection of essays titled In search of our mother’s gardens: womanist prose (1983). Womanism sums up the aesthetics of the black female literary experience. Womanism is distinguished by its focus on the black female experiences. Bernard Bell observes that the preoccupation of black American female writers is projected in his quotation
Bell (1987) states:
Motifs of interlocking racist, sexist and classist oppression, black female protagonists, spiritual journeys from victimization to the realization of personal autonomy or creativity, a centrality of female bonding or networking, a sharp focus on personal relationships in the family and community deeper, more detailed explorations and validation of their episternological powers of emotions, iconography of women’s clothing and black female language.
This projects and explores the black women experience and the struggles of the women in emancipating themselves from the society. Bell (1987) exposes the closeness in which the African women or Black women have towards their oppression. The womanist is an accomodationist which Aidoo and Okoye portrayed through their female characters like Opokuya,Ije,Ugo Ushie and Esi welcomes the male presence and the centrality of motherhood.
Through the topicality of their works Aidoo and Okoye introduce the concept of womanism, their literary text focus on family relationship, the importance of mother hood etc. African women are presently voicing their stand point on the various women experiences. Aidoo and Okoye drum the course of women freedom in the society. The study will therefore compare the two writers; Aidoo and Okoye on the projection of the womanist perspectives in the two literature texts.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
This study intends to examine the feminist perspective in Ama Ata Aidoo’s changes and Ifeoma Okoye’s Behind the clouds. Using a womanist approach in the two texts. It also attempts to compare the authors perception on women issues. This will be done through a critical analysis of the female characters in the text.
SCOPE AND DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of this study is on feminist perspective, scholars view and opinions on feminism. The study will cover definition of feminism, the types and limit the text to the womanist concern of Ama Ata Aidoo’s Changes and Ifeoma Okoye’s Behind The Clouds. Critics views on both writers also be discussed according to the availability of materials.
Feminists have done various works on feminism and the perspectives of other literary works. Due to the researcher’s study, the exploration of Aidoo’s Changes and Okoye’s Behind the clouds have not been compared in a significant way. This study aims to discuss and compare the two writers by analyzing their female character in both literary texts.
This research work constitutes a general study of Aidoo and Okoye’s text using the womanist approach on both books. Research on text books, and scholars stand point on feminism will be conducted for the purpose of shedding more light on the comparative study.
1.5 ORIGIN OF FEMINISM
Feminism began in Europe in the late eighteenth century. The desire for equality predates the existence of the term feminism or the movement it has come to represent. The term feminism comes from the French word feminisine and was popularized by Hubertine Auclert in 1882 when she organized the first women suffragist in France. However, prior to the advert of the word, there were publications that fell within the purview of feminism. One of the first publication was a French poet Christine De Pizan, the author of the City Of Ladies (1403), in which Pizan suggests that women should build their own cities, free of men, so as to avoid men’s violence and oppression. Also, John Locke’s The Treatise Of Government (1690), argued that all individuals have undebtable natural rights to life, liberty and possession which no government can deny. Locke’s work inspired Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication Of The Right Of Women 1792,one of the first feminist manifesto. Wollstonecraft (1792) argued that “ women were human beings who should not be denied the same individual rights and privilege, including the rights to education, earnings and property ownership”. The rights of women were further advocated by John Stuart mill in his treatise, The Subjection Of Women1869. Mill contends that “ women should be granted the same rights and privilege as men under the law”.
In the United States, the first women’s right convention was held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. In 1869, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony founded the National Woman Suffrage Association and demanded the right to vote and marital reform. After winning the right to vote, women turned their attention to education and employment.
Hooks, Bells. Black Feminism: Historical perspective In “Call and response:
the Riverside Anthology of African American Literary Tradition” (eds) Boston: Hougston Miffin company,1988
Walker, Alice. In search of our mothers ganders: womanist prose. New York:
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983
Bell, Bernard. The Afro-American Novel and its tradition. Amrehest: The
University of Massachuseth Press, 1989
Aidoo, Ama Ata. Changes: A love story. New York: the Feminist press,1991
Okoye, Ifeoma. Behind The Clouds. United Kingdom: Longman Group