In the article, “Igbo cultural and religious worldview: Aninsider’s perspective” by Chinwe M.
A. Nwoye and in the book, “Things FallApart” by Chinua Achebe, Okonkwo thinks he is higher in position than othersbecause of his masculine character traits and gender which contribute to hisfamily being fearful of him. In the article “Igbo cultural and religiousworldview: An insider’s perspective” Nwoye explains how masculinity rules overfemininity and writes that even male children inherited land instead of womenshowing the importance of males over females. Gender roles is a concept that isvalued greatly.
In the Igbo culture “masculinity dominates the gender ideology”(Nwoye, 313). Women couldn’t call their husbands by their real names and had tocall them by a praise name or social title. Men usually grew yams which showedsigns of masculinity. The more yam tubers a man had in his barn, the wealthierhe was thought to be.
In the book “Things Fall Apart”, Chinua Achebe explainsgender roles that are similar to Nwoye’s ideas. Men in the Igbo society areexpected to be able to fully control their women or else they are notconsidered as men. Okonkwo has three wives and makes it very clear that theyshould obey him. Okonkwo controlled his household with sternness which is goodin Igbo society. This caused his wives to “live in perpetual fear of his fiery”(Achebe, 22). Men are the dominant sex in the Igbo world and rule over theirfamilies including their wives.
Women are seen at a lower status and usually livein terror of their husbands. Even though Okonkwo’s quick attitude with hisfamily is never liked in our society, it is cherished in his. Okonkwo may be hostiletoward his family at his home if he wants to. In my opinion, I think some ofOkonkwo’s bad actions are honored in his society, but not all of them. Okonkwotreating his family like slaves shows his power over his family. I thinkOkonkwo didn’t want to show love or empathy because other could have perceivedhim as weak. Okonkwo wants to hold himself up as a leader by being ruthless tohis family.
We might be horrified by this and see abuse, but the Igbo peopleprobably treasure this concept in some ways. When Okonkwo beat up two of histhree wives he did this because it was punishment for them, but I think he didthis based off his rank and power that he possesses. Okonkwo showed that womenwere inferior to him by bossing them around and abusing them.
When Okonkwomurdered his son Ikemefuna, the reader though this was a terrible sight.Okonkwo most likely did this to show his masculinity by not being afraid tokill people including his own son. This act was probably looked at by the Igbopeople as a sign of masculinity because of the bravery he showed.
Both authorsexplain the importance of why and how masculinity is the leading gender and howOkonkwo uses this to support Igbo society.