“The Way of the Machete” & “Retrenched”

In both “The Way of the Machete” and “Retrenched” we see the male characters become overcome with sticking to their gender roles. We see both male characters become so obsessed with sticking to the role that in the end it hurts them even more. For example, in ‘The Way of The Machete” we see the main character cause his own demise merely for the fact that he cannot take another man thinking he is stronger than him or telling his village that he is weak. He goes and fights the strongest man in the village and does not end up winning.
In “Retrenched” we see the male character loses his job and feels like he cannot provide anymore for his family. He pretends he is going to work and just pretends that everything is fine, when in reality it is not. He even states,”So, now she thinks I’m totally useless! She’s given up on me and thinks I’m not man enough to hold down a job and support my family!” This shows that he can’t handle not being the one in charge and he thinks that his family thinks less of him just because he got laid off which made have not even been the case if he was open and honest with them from the start.
To conclude, gender roles and stereotypes can definitely be the downfall of some individuals.


What is Morality?

“The night he came back and ordered me to his bed, I touched the tiny scar that only I could see, and felt it warm throbbing under my hand and I smiled.”

The statement above is in reference to Nneke from ‘Growing my Hair Again,’ tying her tubes. This was a decision she made in order to protect her future children for coming into a home of abuse. In my thesis statement I state, When faced with tough and uncomfortable situations where it is necessary to fight for their lives both Nneke of ‘Growing my Hair Again’ by Chika Unigwe and Iriola of ‘Kelemo’s Woman’ by Molara Wood show what it truly means to be called a “moral woman.”

I believe that this quote definitely relates to that and shows that she is a moral woman. Some people may think that this decision was immoral but I see it as she had to do what she had to do to protect herself. If she kept allowing him to force himself upon her with the risk of becoming pregnant again, there could have been bigger consequences. He had already caused her to miscarry once, which is a traumatic experience for any woman to go to, and overall, she just doesn’t want another child brought into a home like this.

Transnational Feminism

Both Iriola from “Kelemo’s Woman” and Nneke from “Growing my Hair Again” were both liberated in one way or another.

Transnational Feminism can best be defined as examining issues from a global perspective while considering how they intersect with our lived expectations in the United States.

One example from the text that relates to Nneke’s liberation is as follows, “Sexual liberation is a shared issue among all feminists. Whether we hold traditional values or otherwise, we all firmly believe that our bodies are primarily ours, and we should be able to do with them as we desire.” This directly relates to the scene in “Growing my Hair Again” where Nneke discusses getting her tubes tied. She wanted to protect her future children from coming into a world of abuse. In one scene following the discussion of her tubes being tied, she states that he “released his manhood” inside her and all she did was touch where the scar that only she could see was and smiled because she felt like she finally had control over her own body.

An example from the text that directly relates to Iriola’s liberation is as follows, “To be feminist is to be anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, and anti-patriarchal because these systems function together to create inequality and maintain the status quo.” This statement directly relates with the ending of the story where Iriola is finally seen taking charge for her own life and own actions. “And I never disobeyed Mother” is how the story ends, meaning she is going to do what is right for her rather than what will please Kelemo.

To conclude, Transnational Feminism directly relates to both Iriola and Nneke in different ways.

“Cosmopolitanism” by Kwame Anthony Appiah

Cosmopolitanism can best be defined as the ideology that all human beings belong to a single community based on a shared morality.
Throughout both Growing my Hair Again and Kelemo’s Woman, Iriola and Nneke are both almost “trapped” in a certain lifestyle.

Nneke is suppose to be mourning the loss of her husband, who also happened to be very abusive towards her. One way that she is able to make herself feel happy and free, is by going to get her hair done. Her hair is almost like the one thing left that she has control over. Another thing she did in the story to make herself feel happy and free was getting her tubes tied and not telling her husband. This allowed her to have control over her own body, which meant not being able to get pregnant, which is what her husband wanted. While all this happened, while her husband was alive she still abided by everything he told her, prepared his meals and endured his awful way of treating her.

On the other hand, Iriola also tried to do things that made her happy while still doing what was expected of her. Throughout the story Kelemo is ready to go out and fight for what is right for their country and he almost forces Iriola to go as well even though she is still mourning the loss of her mother. Although she does go with Kelemo, which is fulfilling what she is suppose to do as wife, she decides to do her own thing and basically leave Kelemo behind because she needed to do what her mother told her to do. The story even ends with the line that says “and I never disobeyed my mother.”