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Changing Conceptions of Masculinity in the Marital Landscape of Africa

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A Study of Ama Ata Aidoo’s Changes and Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood

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Recent critical studies of men have focused on multiple masculinities and the need for a change in theorizing the hegemonic constructions of gender. This growing body of scholarship has influenced literary studies, particularly in the readings of male characters as presented in literary works. The portraiture of the male characters in Aidoo’s Changes and Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood has attracted the attention of critics who examine the conflicted hegemonic constructions of masculinity mediated by the powerful forces of colonialism and modernity. These critics contest the patriarchal privileges of masculinity and redefine the gender constructions of both sexes to reflect current studies which focus on the plurality, fluidity, and complexities of masculine roles. This paper argues that Aidoo and Emecheta’s novels depict a hybridism of masculinities, in the context of marriage, in which both the male and the female characters strive to maintain a balance between their traditional African roles as husbands/wives, fathers/mothers and maintain an imitated eurocentric display of love and affection in enacting their roles in the marital enterprise.

Affiliations: 1: Methodist University College, Dansoman, Accra, Ghana


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