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Title: ‘Masculine Women Feminist Men: Assertions and Contradictions in Mawugbe’s ‘In the Chest of a woman’
Authors: Asiedu, A.M.
Keywords: Ghanaian Theatre
Feminist men
Women’s roles
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Theatre History Studies (30): pp 122-137
Abstract: In August 2007 there was a special production of Efo Kodjo Mawugbe’s play In The Chest of a Woman at the Ghana National Theatre in Accra. This production was advertised as being in honour of the newly appointed, first female chief justice in Ghana, Mrs. Georgina Wood. The play was, therefore, to be a celebration of the achievements of women and their right to all that they may aspire to. As the lead female character declares, ‘“In the chest of a woman is not only an extension of the breast and a feeble heart, but a strong desire to hold and use power.” The play, however, presents incidents and female characters that appear to contradict this sentiment. Some believed that the characters, rather than celebrating womanhood, perpetrated conventional stereotypes or presented distorted images of female achievers. The essay examines the production of this play to discover how it may be seen as a celebration of women. It does this through an analysis of three female characters in the play: the Queen Mother, who became ruler because there was no suitable male heir to become king; her daughter, Nana Yaa Kyeretwe, who displays courage “like a man”; and Owusu Agyema, her granddaughter, who is in fact disguised from birth as a boy. These characters provide an interesting study of three generations of women from the same family called upon by circumstances to play “male roles.” I discuss these women in the frame of the play’s purported feminist tendencies derived from a discussion with the playwright about this particular production of the play. Within this frame, the paper also questions the motivations of male feminists or pro-feminist men, such as the playwright appears to be, and whether they need to be reoriented in order to fully achieve their aim of celebrating the female for all she is and can be.
Appears in Collections:Department of Theatre Arts

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