Gender Roles In Nervous Conditions By Taitsi Dangarembga

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In the book Nervous Conditions, Taitsi Dangarembga explores the effects of gender roles and submission on women. Stereotypical gender roles in Rhodesian culture often portray women as inferior to the men around them. The wives and daughters depicted in the book are expected to serve their husbands and fathers and consider their own wants and needs to be secondary to the males’. Generally, the women comply with this treatment, though it ultimately takes a toll on their minds. Dangarembga develops the female characters in the novel to suggest that, when one is forced into subservience, she is unable to develop her own identity.
Ma’shingayi has lived under the control of men for throughout most of her life, resulting in her inability to think
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Tambu observes that “[her] father...ha[s] proved his mettle by dispiriting [her] mother” (129) by using his power as Ma’shingayi’s husband to control how she lives her life. Ma’shingayi is an example of how females are forced to settle with a lower status and submit to male dominance. She rarely questions the authority of the men who dictate her life, choosing to accept the lesser role she is given instead of standing up for herself. When Babamukuru proposes taking Tambu to the mission, Ma’Shingayi protests, stating, “I am telling you, I will not let her go”, yet Tambu “[goes] to the mission all the same” (57). Babamukuru and Jeremiah completely disregard her pleas to keep her child with her, demonstrating how little Ma’shingayi’s opinion matters to the others in her family. Presumably, her input has less value due to that she is a low ranking female. Additionally, her …show more content…
Her elders in particular disapprove of her partial anglicisation. Nyasha complains that “now [her parents] are stuck with hybrids for children. And they don’t like it” (79), expressing her dismay that her mother and father frown upon the person she has become. She underscores how outside influences are often shunned in Shona culture, especially when they diverge from the social normalities that have been in place for decades. This is especially disconcerting for Nyasha, whose is caught between her Shona and English identities. One notably denounced effect of Nyasha’s adoption of English values is her “provocativeness”. A large fight breaks out between Nyasha and Babamukuru because Babamukuru claims that “[he] cannot have a daughter who behaves like a whore” (116). Nyasha, unlike Maiguru and Ma’Shingayi, does not surrender to the oppression she receives due to her gender. Instead, she retorts, “now why...should I worry about what people say when my own father calls me a whore?” (116), accusing him of being too harsh with his judgement. Nyasha demonstrates that in order to maintain strength, one must stand up for herself. She is determined to have control over her own life, rather than allow a higher power to impose on her aspirations. Even though in the end her defiance is not necessarily successful, Nyasha is able to establish her own identity

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