Igbo Gender Roles

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In several different cultures, life is often structured around gendered roles. In the Igbo culture, men and women each had their own specific roles and they were often judged based on how successful they were able to carry out their roles. In Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, the men were considered to be successful if they had a hardworking family, rich crop fields, and were great warriors in battle. The men had to be able to rule over their families with an iron fist and be the ones to call everything. The men who did have these qualities were described as weak and unfit to be a man. Thus, with their desire to be considered successful in their village, men such as Okonkwo were presented as the dominant sex, the strong rulers of their families,…show more content…
Throughout the novel, women were seen to be maltreated and denied of some basic rights. The fact that women were sold off to get married and sometimes forced to be a replacement for another man’s lost wife reveals just truly how devalued and interchangeable women were in Igbo culture. Women were considered weak and it was said that they needed the help of a man to survive in the world. If the men did not act as they were supposed and they started to act out of Igbo men standards then they could have been possibly classified as an agbala. According to Okonkwo, agbala was probably the greatest insult a person can call a man. Achebe stated “Even as a little boy he had resented his father’s failure and weakness, and even now he still remembered how he had suffered when a playmate had told him that his father was agbala. That was how Okonkwo first came to know that agbala was not only another name for a woman, it could also mean a man who had taken no title.” (Achebe 13). In other words, men were determined not be considered as low as a woman, as that was the greatest insult a man could have received at the

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