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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Western gender paradigm: historicizing the appropriation of African women
Author:Gandu, Yohanna Kagoro
Periodical:Ibadan journal of the social sciences (ISSN 1597-5207)
Geographic term:Africa
African culture
Abstract:Scholarly documentation of the history of the emergence and shifts in the construction of gender categories in Europe presents a picture that presupposes the existence of women as a social category that has always been perceived and understood to be powerless, disadvantaged, controlled and defined by men. Western historical experience is rooted on the perception of the world as a man's world. In such a world, gender is treated as a biologically pre-determined divide and social categorisation of humans into 'man' or 'woman'. Biological determinism has often been so compelling in Western gender discourse to an extent that social categories have over the years derived their legitimacy and power from biology. Biological determinism inherent in Western articulation of social difference cannot however be presented as a universally acceptable paradigm. This is because feminist debates on what roles and which identities are natural and what aspects are socially constructed, can only have meaning in culture. It is through culture that social categories are conceived. It is within the foregoing context that African 'protest scholarship' submits that social categories do not have an independent existence or logic of their own. The contestations over the concept 'gender' developed out of this challenge. This paper argues that Western gender constructions and concepts do not automatically apply to non-Western societies. Examples from Africa present 'several challenges to the unwarranted universalism of feminist gender discourses' because African social categories are 'fluid, highly situational and not determined by body type'. The paper concludes that such constructs can only be of use for comparative purposes. This paper adopts a historical and theoretical review of the subject matter under investigation, the method of study used is content analysis. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract]