Never marry a woman with big feet : the proverbial oppression of women in Igbo African culture : an investigation of the semantics of female devaluation in Igbo african proverbs.
Chikwelu, Emmanuel J.
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Gender discourse has occupied an important position in African scholarship. The question is no longer whether women are being marginalized and abused, the question is how and why women are abused and relegated. Men in various cultures and societies have taken the responsibility for the construction of female identity based on some gender stereotype through cultural vehicles such as proverb. Proverbs in Igbo African culture have perpetuated the mainstream oppression and subjugation of women in Igbo society of Nigeria. Like in many other African cultures, proverbs help in defining moral consciousness, thought and belief. They are at the core of African oral literature and are believed to be a reflection of wisdom and truth preserved and passed from one generation to the other. Nonetheless, the beauty presented by this integral aspect of African folklore has been partial and paints a derogatory image about women. This stereotypical depiction of women in Igbo African proverbs has continued to limit and deny the notable contributions of women in the enhancement of humanity in the society. This study, therefore seeks to interrogate the overt sexism in Igbo African proverbs. Through the use of in-depth interview and qualitative content analysis, this study highlights evidence of marginalization of women in Igbo African proverbs. The study equally makes use of social construct and liberal feminist theory to give a thick descriptive approach to the issue at hand. The study makes use of 5 in-depth interviews and 16 proverbs samples collected from written texts and unwritten narratives accessed from Nigerian movie industry (Nollywood) and other visual sources.