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A GENDER ANALYSIS ON NOVEL FACELESS BY AMMA DARKO

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1     BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

Gender is the state of being male or female and typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones. Gender unfairness is not based solely on gender differences but on how people are treated differently because of their sex (Kolawole, 1998). Most of the changes in the gender system heralded as “revolutionary” involve women moving into positions and activities previously limited to men, with few changes in the opposite direction. The source of this asymmetry is an aspect of society’s valuation and reward system that has not changed much—the tendency to devalue and badly reward activities and jobs traditionally done by women. Women have made great contributions in their various communities cutting across the gamut of the ethnic nationalities that populate what is presently known as Ghana (Ikoni, 2002).

Darko’s emergent voice gives a new feminist perspective on the issues of gender and class in contemporary African writing. She explores a recurrent theme of sexual exploitation of the most vulnerable members of society. Throughout her fictional works (Beyond the Horizon, 1995; Housemaid, 1998; Faceless, 2003; and Not Without Flowers, 2007, sexuality becomes an overarching metaphor to examine the values of Ghanaian society. Faceless surpasses the other works in artistic intensity and complexity. In this novel, Darko defines feminine sexuality in terms of a complex trope of transformation from voicelessness to voice and movement beyond facelessness to attain face or personhood. Darko seeks a way out of this prolonged nightmare by rendering women visible and by creating feminine voice and space. She urges women to revive their voice to sustain their lives. The women in Faceless are stigmatized, yet they engage in courageous acts to throw off the yoke of oppression in a male-dominated society. According Goddess Bvukutwa, patriarchy is so rooted in most African contexts that trying to separate it from our humanity is unfathomable for the most part. Meanwhile, apologists (including women) insist on equality between the sexes is a Western notion that will never work in an African creation.

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