Promiscuous Girls, Good Wives, And Cheating Husbands: Gender Inequality, Transitions to Marriage, And Infidelity in Southeastern Nigeria (Essay)
Anthropological Quarterly 2010, Wntr, 83, 1
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In Africa's most populous country, Nigeria, as in many other parts of the world, young people increasingly imagine that being in love is a basis for getting married (Hirsch and Wardlow 2006, Cole and Thomas 2009). Historically, the rise of romantic love as a marital ideal has sometimes been perceived to be associated with greater gender equality, as changes in expectations for and practices in marriage are tied to the erosion of a highly sex-segregated division of labor. In many settings, transformations in the dynamics of marital intimacy have been interpreted as offering women the possibility of utilizing emotional leverage with their husbands to negotiate more equitable domestic arrangements (Collier 1997, Hirsch 2003, Rebhun 1999). But in Nigeria changes in marriage and in the public and private dimensions of gender asymmetry have not occurred uniformly or beyond the continuing influence of powerful kinship systems and structures of inequality. Extended families and their expectations continue to influence young people's selection of a spouse. Further, once a couple is married, kin relationships frequently impinge on contemporary conjugal life, perhaps most overtly with regard to fertility and parenting. A gendered division of labor continues to characterize many spheres of Nigerian social life, even as urbanization, formal education, and broader trends toward individualism produce changes that push against entrenched gendered social organization. In this article, I focus on young women's experiences and management of the transition from premarital sexual relationships and courtship to marriage and parenthood in southeastern Nigeria. I examine how love as a relationship ideal changes after marriage and, specifically, how young married women's lives are affected by the reality of a persistent gender double standard regarding the acceptability of extramarital sex. I argue that a significant transformation occurs in the nature of women's agency and in the kinds of leverage they have with their men as their identities shift from single to married. In marriage, women are constrained in many ways they did not experience when they were single, even as they have new powers, having achieved a status that is highly valued. These changes, and the ways women adjust to them, highlight the complex and multivalent dimensions of gender dynamics in the context of contemporary Nigerian courtship and marriage.
- 2,99 €
- Kategorie: Sozialwissenschaft
- Erschienen: 01.01.2010
- Verlag: Institute for Ethnographic Research
- Druckseiten: 48 Seiten
- Sprache: Englisch