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Oppression Of Women In Masculine Based Societies

1718 words - 7 pages

Throughout history, many cultures have been heavily masculine based. There are ample examples of power wielding men ruling over women. But how does this affect them? It may come as a surprise, but men have been known to abuse this power. When women are no more than second class citizens at best, and slaves at worst, there are consequences. Men never seem to pay the price for their actions, and women will undoubtedly suffer as a result. This can be found throughout all of human history and literature. As a result of masculine based societies and cultures, women have been unfairly oppressed, as exemplified in the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, and the play A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen.
In many masculine based societies, women find themselves in the unfortunate position of enduring the punishments that should go to the men in their lives. In extreme cases, an innocent virgin could lose her life in payment for a crime she did not commit. When the wife of one of the clansmen in Umuofia is murdered at the market, a virgin is given as compensation, and the elders of the village decide that, “the girl should go to Ogbuefi Udo to replace his murdered wife” (Achebe 12). The girl herself was not at fault, but she was used as payment for a crime committed by a man in her village. This practice has occurred in other societies as well. In some cultures, such as in Ancient Assyria, when a woman was raped, the rapist was forced to compensate by handing over his own wife to the husband of his victim to be used however he pleased (Taylor). Women are used as payment for the crimes of men, and they suffer the consequences of uncaring men, like the innocent virgin who was murdered by the people of Umuofia. In masculine based societies, men are under the misguided assumption that it’s acceptable to use women as a sort of perverse form of currency.
In the village of Umuofia, it is important to be a powerful man, however it comes at the expense of women’s rights. “No matter how prosperous a man was, if he was unable to rule his women and children (and especially his women) he was not really a man” (Achebe 53).
“Okonkwo ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper” (Achebe 13).
“‘Do what you are told, woman,’” thundered Okonkwo (Achebe 14).
“But his wives and young children were not as strong, and so they suffered. But they dared not complain openly,” (Achebe 13).
In societies where men are perceived to be above women, they suffer many physical abuses, such as beatings. In such cultures, there is nothing the women can do about it, and men face no punishment. When Okonkwo blames one of his wives for killing a tree, although it remained alive,“Without further argument, Okonkwo gave her a sound beating and left her and her only daughter weeping. Neither of the other wives dared to interfere beyond an occasional and tentative, “It is enough, Okonkwo,” pleaded from a reasonable...

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