Ambivalent Gender Identities in Contemporary African Literature: A Butlerian Perspective

Léonard KOUSSOUHON, Fortuné AGBACHI

Abstract


This paper is an attempt to examine the way male and female participants perform gender in 03 novels, Everything Good Will Come (2006), Swallow (2010) and A Bit of Difference (2013), by a contemporary Nigerian writer called Sefi Atta. The study draws on Gender Performative Theory as developed by the feminist Butler (1990/1999). This theory considers gender identities as being socially constructed. The study highlights the multiple ways in which male and female participants perform gender according to established social norms in the selected novels. Regarding the existing social norms in Nigeria, the findings by scholars like Fakeye, George and Owoyemi (2012), Mejiuni and Awolowo (2006), Bourey et al (2012), Gbadebo, Kehinde and Adedeji (2012), Okunola and Ojo (2012) exude that men are traditionally portrayed as career people, assertive, powerful and active, independent and violent while women are stereotypically depicted as housewives, submissive, powerless and passive, dependent and non-violent (or victims). Based on the above dichotomies between men and women, the study unveils the ideology that underpins gender performances in the novels.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jsel.v4i1.9558

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