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Title: Sexual Rights Advocacy in Selected African Fiction
Authors: Okolo, I. G.
Keywords: Sexuality
Sexual rights violation
Sexual identity
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: Victimhood, in sexuality discourses in African literature, has, over time, become attached only to women while men have been presented as perpetrators. This perception has dominated feminist and masculinist studies, with little attention paid to men‘s victimisation and sexual rights advocacy. This study, therefore, investigates the representation of sexual rights in African fiction to ascertain African writers‘ responses to these rights. This is in an attempt to show that all individuals have sexual rights, can be victimised in given contexts which are capable of defining/redefining their Otherness, and can seek or gain liberation. The study applies aspects of the Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalytic theories which account for sexuality, otherness and the suffering generated in the clash of the self with the ―Big Other‖. Ten texts – Nawal El Saadawi‘s Woman at Point Zero, Two Women in One, She Has No Place in Paradise and God Dies by the Nile, Calixthe Beyala‘s Your Name Shall Be Tanga, Diane Case‘s Toasted Penis and Cheese, Yvonne Vera‘s Without a Name, J.M. Coetzee‘s Disgrace, Chris Abani‘s Becoming Abigail and Jude Dibia‘s Walking with Shadows – are purposively selected for analyses. The texts are subjected to literary and critical analyses to examine the contexts of sexual rights violation of the self by the ―Big Other‖, the victimisation generated by this violation, and the writers‘ contrived solutions to eliminate it. All the texts share a common denominator – sexual violence and its attendant psychological trauma and physical damages – but, specific texts show that the rights of men, women and children are violated in specific contexts that define their Otherness. Socio-cultural practices and beliefs encourage the violation of rights and victimisation in all the texts, while religion generates same in all of El Saadawi‘s and Dibia‘s texts. While women are victimised in all the texts, men are victimised in God Dies by the Nile, Case‘s and Dibia‘s texts. The role of the perpetrator is played by both men and women in texts by El Saadawi, Beyala, Case and Dibia, whereas only men are the perpetrators in Coetzee‘s, Abani‘s and Vera‘s. While Abani centres on the trafficking of the girl-child for the purpose of sex work, El Saadawi shows that the boy-child can be raped and children are violated when made to suffer for their parents‘ sexual offences. All the texts, in different ways, create avenues for bridging the gap between the self and the ―Big Other‖ and the elimination of suffering. Coetzee‘s and El Saadawi‘s uphold the provision of professional institutions to seek redress for the sexually violated while Dibia‘s and Case‘s highlight tolerance and respect for every individual‘s sexual identity and orientation. All the texts favour the taking of responsibility for sexual actions and religious and socio-cultural re-orientation through sexuality education. African prose fiction writers create sexual rights awareness through their representations of contexts of sexual rights violation, victimisation of male and female genders, and sociologically-grounded solutions to the violation. This awareness, if extended to real world situations, would ensure better understanding and protection of every individual‘s sexual rights.
Description: A Thesis in the Department of English Submitted to the Faculty of Arts in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy of the University of Ibadan
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