Feminist Theory Of Literacy Criticism

Project and Seminar Material for Philosophy

Project and Seminar Material for Philosophy

Chapter One


Purpose of Study

The purpose of this study is to exemplify Julie Okoh’s The Trials as a feminist text

Scope of Study

This research is limited to Julie Okoh’s text The Trials. The study examine the basic memorable of a feminist text which are, strong memorable female character, the portrayal of women as having innate goodness and genuine concern for the family especially the children; portrayal of women as bring instrumental to positive change in improving the society economically and finally, the presence of power relation and call for change in the status’ of women as critical responses of the women to a society dominated by the men-folk


This work is qualitative and is women around the text The Trials by Julie Okoh’s as the primary source. Other source included journals articles and books.

Theoretical Background

The theory on which this work is based is the feminist theory of literacy criticism.

According to Ann B. Dobie (a writer and theorist the author of theory into practice) the feminist movement stretches back into the ninetieth century the feminist lenses began to develop only in the early 1960’s.

Feminism Encyclopedia Americana 1920’s defines feminism as a collection of ideas and movement aimed at defining, establishing and defending equal political, economic and social right of women and men. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunity for women in education and career (Wikipedia “feminism” collier new Encyclopedia 1921)

Feminism therefore is an ideological movement that aims at advocating the economic, social and political equality of men and women in the society. Therefore if frowns at oppression of women by men.

Feminism is a concept that thrives to give recognition to women’s capability and right to determine and change a new society. It demands that women should not be judged by their sex. It is geared towards correcting the situation in the society in which a women cannot hold certain positions and jobs or have a say in the affairs of the state because of her gender.

According to Judith Burdick, feminism is an outright and explicit rejection of the life style created by strong coercive norms. She further state that:

“That advocacy of the furtherance of women’s right interest and equality with men in social, political and economic sphere (588).Feminism indeed advocates that a women has the right and freedom from male domination and therefore can decide her own destiny. This concept sees the women as being able to makes her own decision knowing what is good for her as well as what is bad. This movement also held that women should break new grand and let herself be trampled upon by men.

Book encyclopedia…..(vol ii) defines feminism as

“That belief that women should have economic political and social right equality with men. The movement could also be called women’s Liberation or women’s movement” (46).Feminism is out to destiny the concept, however grounded in religious, economic or biological superiority over women, Brudwick also states that feminism.

“Is a psychological revaluation based on women’s insistence that they have basic right to make choices and be judge as individuals”.Furthermore, the concerted effort by women to end their travail was proof to the world that their contribution to the societal development would be Barren if they are socially, politically and economically deprived in any form. Therefore, for peace and stability to reign thewy desire to be treaded like their male counterpart. This protect and demand laid the foundation for feminism. It focuses don eradicatsing gender inequality and promoting women right, interest and issues in the society.

Feminism began with the coming of many wollstone craft’s A vindication of the right of women. In the text she state how “women are stripped of virtue that should cloth humanity then are decked with artificial graces that enable them exercise a short lived tyranny” (142) from that statement it is justifiable to state that a women’s essential worth sterms from her common humanity and does not depend on any thing else

In Nigeria, the first feminist movement or idea dates back to the Aba women Roit (1926) which was an event fashioned towards the emaicipation of women. Apart from the event in Nigeria we also have the Beijing women conference in china which focuses on the plight of women and the action needed to improve their let. The struggle to end discrimination of sexes stereotyping and male domination should not be considered a one-man race, rather, it calls for a group struggle. The man reigns in the have while women are stripped of their dignity and made object of men’s lust and pleasure. Hence feminism grew to destroy these vices in the society. But Africa is yet to witness radical feminism, hence Alice Waker in the text The Nature of Black Feminism state that:

“The black feminism is committed to the survival and wholeness of the entire people male and female”(231)

Black feminism is commited to the survival of all and not a one-sided or selfish affair.

According to Okey Okwechine “Equality to right and opportunity for both men and women for a healthy society” (209). This simply means that for a society to progress, there should be equal support for all irrespective of their sex.

The aim and scope of feminism movement is divided into two part, which we all the basic common goals women have irrespective of race, class and culture. The others varies from country to country because of race, class and culture

At first, feminist movement concentrated con gaining legal equality especially the right to vote in 1839, women in Zealand were the first6 to advocate and win this right followed by women in Australia and other European countries and then United State. During the year 1900’s a new concern for economic and social equality arose and revived the movement

Feminist group fought to end education and job discrimination against women. A large number of women went into professions like law, medicine, politics, business and other male dominated field

Feminist movement sought to overturn laws and practice that enforce superiority of men over women and in ferity status of women by discrimination in such matters relating to sex and child bearing. In other words, feminist worked for wider availability of birth control information and legalized abortion in same countries. They strived to change societal belif that women are weak, passive and dependent individuals; and that women are less ratio and more emotional than men also that women exist to please men.

In parts of Africa feminist –movement arte geared towards were basic roles such as removal of high bride price preference of male children to female children, maltreatment of widows amongst others.

Another aim of the feminist is up-liftment of women image and a demonstration of the need to be dissatisfied with their traditional roles of neing subjected to male domination, and that women can participate equally with men in every sphere of human endeavors. Also to give every women to realize their potential

According to Ann B Dobie in her book Theory into Practice femimist criticism can be studied in three different perspective into several overlapping approaches which are: study of defenses, study of female power and study of female experience

In the study of difference, feminist critics who are interested in determining the difference in male and female writing work from assumption that gender determine everything including value system and language. The concept of female difference has resulted in an assumption of female inferiority critical on this in the writing of men and women considers question like:

Has the writer chosen to write in genre typical of male of female writers of that time or period?

Do you consider the content of the piece typical or atypical the voice sound characteristic of a male or female writer? Is it personal or impersonal, subjective or objective implicit of explicit?

In answering the above question in relation to the primary text The Trials by Julie Okoh’s it is seen that the genre of the text is drama, very short and concise which is typical of the genre of the 21st century period of Nigerian writers.

The content of the text is typical of a female writer because it dwells on the important of female empowerment.

The voice is characteristic of a female writer because it protagonist (Ibiso) is female it activities for female empowerment and equal right of men and women to economic, social and political right: This attitude is seen in Ibiso who provides for her family in the face of economic hardship. The tone of the text is general and impersonal because it is not restricted to Africa but the whole world. The text The Trials is objective because it is not based on the personal feelings of the playwright

Feminist critics studying power usually complain of imbalance of power between sexes. They assume that the economic system is at the root of inequitable relationship and the attack both economic and social exploitation of women. They argue that women are oppressed of women. They argue that women are oppressed by a group that consciously hold then down through its ideologies. Michele Barrett, who writes from a maxist poinit of view, argues that the way the family and household are organized is related to division of labor in the society. The related to division of labour in the society. The system of education and the roles men and women play in the culture.

To search for the study of power in a text, the following questions according to Ann B. Dobie should be considered

  1. When do you find cimbalannce of power among the characters?
  2. Who are the powerful ones and who are the powerless? Are the latter women or minority?
  3. What division of labour exist between men and women in the text?
  4. Does the text resist a social order that denies equal treatment to all or does it accept it?
  5. With reference to the text The Trials in answering the above quest

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