The Role of Women in the Ibo Culture The culture in which ”Things Fall Apart” is centered around is one where patriarchal testosterone is supreme and oppresses all females into a nothingness. They are to be seen and not heard, farming, caring for animals, raising children, carrying foo-foo, pots of water, and kola. The role of women in the Ibo culture was mostly domestic. The men saw them as material possessions and thought of them as a source of children and as cooks. As a man made his way in life by farming yams, he needed a strong workforce. This workforce included his wives and children.
A man would have many wives. The more wives and children a man had, the more honor and respect he received. If a man had dishonored himself in the eyes of the other men belonging to the tribe by acting in a cowardly way or by being lazy, they called him a woman for insult. A man was to rule the household with a heavy hand. Okonkwo’s wives and children lived in fear of his quick temper (13).
When his youngest wife was not home in time to cook him lunch one day, he beat her severely when she returned home (29).
Another of his wives cut some leaves off of a banana tree to wrap food. When he saw the tree, he beat her for killing it, even though the tree was clearly quite alive (38).
When Okonkwo was near his daughter Ezinma, he would think to himself, ”She should have been a boy.’ ‘ Apparently, a girl was not capable providing him with sense of pride. In the Ibo culture, when a woman was to be married, the family of her suitor would come and inspect her to be sure she was beautiful and ripe enough to be a part of their family. A woman did not have any value other than he beauty and her abilities to cook and bear children. In a conversation between Okonkwo and his friend Obi erika, they spoke of two other villages where their ”customs are all upside down” and ”titled men climb trees and pound foo-foo for their wives” (73).
It can be argued that culture provides the foundation for persuasive forms of learning for young children. For proof, one doesn’t have to look any further than down the aisle of the children’s section of their local video store. What you will find are numerous animated titles, many of them Disney films. Most people unconditionally accept that these movies are good for children, that ...
They spoke of other tribes where the children belong to the wives and their families. ”You might as well say that the woman lies on top of the man when they are making the children.’ ‘ This remark makes it seem that there is no ‘love-making’ in this culture, but only ‘child-making,’ in which the woman has no real role. In a description of a ceremony, ”It was clear from the way the crowd stood or sat that the ceremony was for men. There were many women, but they looked on from the fringe like outsiders” (87).
The women were not included in discussions, councils, nor were they made part of the masquerades of the ancestral spirits.
There is only one woman who wields a commanding force in the village. She is Chielo, the priestess of the Oracle of the Hills and Caves. Only she can scold and curse Okonkwo. Yet, while Okonkwo is powerless before Chielo, he can still control his own women. In present day, The Rock could be likened to Okonkwo. He is most known for his motto, ”Know your role and shut the hell up.’ ‘ It is a terrible thing for women to still be subjected to this kind of treatment in a society as far advanced as our own.
I’m glad that I have the opportunity to say and do as I please. And I’m happy when I surpass those who tried to stand in my way. The Rock and the rest of the men who want to keep their women barefoot and pregnant can know their role and shut the hell up. I don’t have to get married and have children. I don’t have to be inferior to anyone. I can live to my full potential and vocation, unlike the women in the Ibo culture or the submissive housewives of America fifty years ago.
I suppose I can never fully understand how the Ibo culture works because I have never experienced anything like it. If I had been born into it, I would probably never question my role in society.
... was the word for woman, but all described a man who had taken not titles (13). Okonkwo never forgets this, and ... parents because they were not accepted in the Igbo culture, they were an offense to the earth, ... Ikenfuma, and looks to him for a role model. This pleases Okonkwo, and he begins to lose the ... so did his little children. Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life ...