Feminist Undercurrents in Selected Traditional Igbo Songs: Contemporary Igbo Women’s Voice

Chinwe R. Ezeifeka, Ifeyinwa J. Ogbazi

Abstract


The paper investigates selected traditional Igbo songs and argues that they provide a good niche for gender construction, negotiation and contestation. These songs, got through participant observation during traditional ceremonies touch the domains of lineage perpetuation/inheritance rights, family life, marriage and leadership roles/allocation of social privileges. More of women’s genres, the songs provide a medium for their voice in the prevailing patriarchal social arrangement constructed by men’s songs drawn from pop music, folk songs and texts. Insights from various feminisms, womanism and Searle’s indirect speech acts were applied to explain the different ways women resist, accommodate, adapt and contest the patriarchal social order and assert their agency in these songs. It was found that whereas men’s songs emphasize hegemonic masculinity, striving to hold tenaciously to the reins of social and political control; women’s portray various attitudes to the masculinised social order as compliant, ambivalent, didactic and resistant. The first category tend to emphasize the womanist ideals and values that confer agency to the African/Igbo woman, the second adopts indirectness in this self-assertion, the third educates both sexes on the essence of accommodation and acceptance of these ideals while the last shows outright rejection of women self and imposed subordination. These songs thus become veritable genres for women to talk back at patriarchy and call for compromise, equity and complementarity of both sexes. The paper concludes that these songs speak for what can best be called “compromise feminism” in Igbo gender performance.


Keywords


Igbo songs; Compromise feminism; Patriarchy; Women subordination; Gender equity; Contemporary Igbo woman’s voice

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/8505

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