The definition of sexism is discrimination on the basis of sex. In many cultures sexism was and still is a controversial topic. In fact, women in America couldn’t even vote until the 1920’s. The abundant masculinity in this novel is not sexism but just how the culture functions. Chinua Achebe’s novel Things Fall Apart is not sexist towards women; in fact, it shows that women are essential to the Ibo society and posses a great amount of strength.
For example, the novel is not sexist because it emphasizes the importance of the women to the society. One of the major contributions women make is the amount of crops they harvest. “His mother and his sister worked hard enough, but they grew the women crops like coco-yams, beans and cassava. Yam, the king of crops, was a man’s crop” (Achebe 23). This quote may seem sexist since the men only harvest one crop, but still receive all of the praise; instead it is the exact opposite. This quote makes it clear that women create most of the crops and although they are not considered “manly crops” there is no doubt that without those crops food would be a lot scarcer. In fact the women do most of the work:
According to United Nations statistics women in rural Africa (where at least 70 percent of the population lives) do 75 percent of the weeding, 60 percent of the harvesting and 85 percent of the processing and storing of crops. They also do 95 percent of the domestic work, which includes cooking, cleaning and walking long distances to fetch water and firewood. (Kofi)
Chinua is obviously not being sexist in his novel because he touches on everything in the quote above. He also makes it apparent that the women do a great deal of the work instead of saying the men do everything. Women are also shown to be important when Uchendu is talking to Okonkowo about why they say mother is supreme. He talks about how a mother is there for her children when times are tough:
It’s true that a child belongs to his father. But when a father beats his child, it seeks sympathy in its mother’s hut. A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland. Your mother is there to protect you. She is buried there. And that is why we say mother is supreme. (Achebe 134)
This proves that women are definitely needed because without them the children would never have anyone to turn to. The quote stresses that women are the ones that provide comfort and love. Also the fact that the quote says women are supreme shows their importance, supreme means of the highest quality, degree, character, or importance.
Moreover, women’s importance is made evident by the fact that there are goddesses and priestesses. The priestess of Agbala is very significant in this novel and the men listen to her. If women did not have any importance then the men would not listen to them. Their importance in the novel is displayed during the week of peace, which is dedicated...