Masculinity and female-bodied persons in Ayi Kwei Armah’s Two Thousand Seasons and Ousmane Sembène’s Les Bouts de Bois de Dieu
AbstractTraditionally, masculinity has been conceptualized as an exclusive property of men. It is therefore considered pathological when performed by biological female persons. Viewed through a lens that goes beyond gender binary and its related theory of biological essentialism, this study demonstrates that masculinity can be authentically performed by female-bodied persons. This is done through the analysis of female characters in Armah’s Two Thousand Seasons and Sembène’s Les Bouts de Bois de Dieu. The paper concludes that the female characters delineated in the novels under study engage in performances, behaviours and occupations that have culturally and traditionally been considered masculine, displaying strength and courage, violence, leadership and assertiveness, and playing the breadwinning role. They are not in any wise imitating men nor are they living contrary to their genetic coding. They are female-bodied persons genuinely performing masculinity in trying to proffer solutions to the challenges of their various communities. They demonstrate that masculinity is not a standardized box fixed by biology. This study therefore recommends that masculinity should no longer be tied to narrow stereotypes. It should rather be seen as fluid accommodating either temporarily or permanently both the biological male and the biological female. This, it is hoped, will do the society a lot of good.
Keywords: gender, gender binary, biological essentialism, femininity and masculinity
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