Gender Roles In Igbo Culture

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Gender Distinction in Igbo Culture

Assigning gender roles is common practice that is seen in every society. Gender roles are inspired through concepts like religion and they determine things such as labor force, places in society and beliefs. The driving force behind distinct gender division in Igbo culture is due to their strong beliefs in Ani the Earth goddess and Chukwu (Superior male god) which portray women as nurturing and men as assertive in Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The Igbos polytheistic beliefs manufacture a sense of strength and dominance for men in society and within their homes. It has been known through many generations that “Chukwu was the Overlord” and all other gods were “little gods” or “his servants”(Achebe 180)
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In Umofia women are allowed to work and grow women's crops like “coco-yams, beans and cassava” but they could not grow a “Yam, the king of crops” because it is exclusive to men only (Achebe 23). The limitation on what women can grow is not because they are unable to grow yams but it is because of the strict gender roles in their society for that man's need to be superior in every aspect. The concept of an occupation being only for males, although it is foolish, it is not uncommon. Many occupations in most societies are exclusively male, such as construction and combat, due to the same reasons in Umofia; gender roles. Okonkwo often thinks that his favorite child Enzinma “should have been a boy” because she has “the right spirit’ and he worries about Nwoye because he cannot “make him into a man” and he would not win in “a wrestling match” (Achebe 66). The reason Okonkwo favor Enzinma over Nwoye is because she has more strength and she understands her father more both of which are things he would prefer in a boy. He dislikes Nwoye because he views him as weak and lazy which are traits that he would prefer in a girl. The gender distinction in Igbo impacts their society, occupations and behaviors. What causes gender division in Igbo culture is their polytheistic religious beliefs in Ani and Chukwu which depicts women as tender and men as belligerent. These beliefs create extremely different expectations of men and women and influence the status and the labor of both. Even though gender roles have always been apparent in nearly all societies and strongly influence the lives of many I must strongly urge all men and women to look past these injudicious beliefs and see each other as equals because it would open room for opportunity and benefit
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