Is 'gender chaos' an accurate reflection of how the twentieth century affected the roles of men and women in African societi - Essay Example With the coming of the colonial government however, these roles came to be directly challenged, as it sought to redesign the African way of life according to its liking. The colonial policies tended to result in chaos between the genders as each strived to maintain the roles that it had traditionally held in the traditional society. Many of the policies that the colonial government instituted were aimed at achieving certain imperial goals but these came to be resisted by the men and women in African societies who felt that their way of life was being threatened by the European colonizers. While the initial response was resistance, this resistance came to fall apart as many African societies either adapted to the European way of life or chose to abandon the gender roles, which they had held in the traditional society. Therefore, it can be said that it is indeed true that gender chaos is a true reflection of how the roles of African men and women were affected in the twentieth century. The colonial policies on various issues came to affect the way men and women in African societies behaved and it can be said that they may have caused gender chaos. The colonial government tended to put limits on some of the traditional practices of African societies in order to achieve one goal or the other. While some of these intentions may have been good, they tended to create a lot of discord in the African communities involved, with some either choosing to ignore the colonial policies while others tended to do it the way they were required, and later do it the traditional way. An example of such colonial policies is given by Lynn Thomas (2003) who in her work states that in order to reduce the instances of abortion in the Meru community in Kenya, the colonial government decided that the age of female excision was to be reduced. This was done because while it was a normal thing within this community for women to have premarital sex, if they became pregnant before excision, then they were required by their communities to abort the child. This requirement came about because those girls who had not been excised were considered not to be real women and their offspring were considered not to be human but demons. Such forced abortions were believed by the colonial government to be the reason why there were low birthrates among the Meru leading to low population growth. This colonial policy met with resistance from members of the community especially the women, who saw this as a violation of their traditions. While there was compliance with the colonial requirements, the older women in the society and at times the girls involved, often took it upon themselves to do the excision on the girls at the required age, even though these girls had already undergone the operation. The role of women in African societies came to change during the period of the struggle for independence against colonial rule. In many of the African traditional societies, men were the dominant gender being given preferential treatment in the attainment of all the prominent positions in society. Women, on the other hand, were less visible, often concentrating on the management of their own homes and families. This was the custom throughout most of Africa until such a time as Africa came to be colonized. For several decades after colonization, the role of women in society remained the same but this came to change when some women started gaining the
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