Throughout history, as men have had control in society, women's stories have been silenced. In Chinua Achebe's novel, Things Fall Apart, women's perspective is never portrayed,but it is nevertheless evident how crucial of a role they played in their society. The main character, Okonkwo, is who the narration mainly focues on but we see how heavily he relies on his three wives to support himself and his family. This clear focus on men is a common theme throughout history and literature, therefore women have had to work harder to get their stories told. Only in recent years, have women gained the means to express their perspective. But this advance has only taken place in certain parts of the world, and in Africa, even now days women are still struggling against the silencing of their voices.

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These three images portray the silencing of women throughout history in all parts of the world. In Africa, as demonstrated through Things Fall Apart, women were responsible for a great deal of hard work but rarely given the credit. In China, women's feet were bound to force them to be reliant on men which represents physical dominance and control by men. And lastly, in America, women were given no opportunities to work or express themselves and men remained in control throghout society.

Things Fall Apart is an excellent example of how women during this time period, the 1800’s, were portrayed. From what we learn about the village and its culture, it’s clear that women play a vital role in the society, but for some reason their story isn’t seen as significant. We mainly see the perspective of Okonkwo and the other adult males of their community, but the women are often just briefly mentioned. Okonkwo’s three wives are very hard workers and key contributors to the family’s way of life. Okonkwo, or the other males, don’t show respect for women and so literature therefore follows in the same tracks. During this time period, women were seen as insignificant and incapable, so the accounts of history we hear through stories and literature portray them in the same light by barely giving them a voice. In Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe makes an interesting choice with his portrayal of one of Okonkwo’s daughters, Ezinma. Okonkwo views her very highly so perfect that she could have been a boy. He says, “I wish she were a boy. She understood things so perfectly. Who else among his children could have read his thoughts so well?” (Achebe 106). We don’t get to see too much of Ezinma throughout the story, but perhaps if she indeed had been a male we could have seen more of this perspective. She’s a very intriguing character and seems to have a great understanding of her father’s complicated emotions and is wise beyond her years. Unfortunately, however, due to her sex we barely get to see into this fascinating character. This demonstrates how this possibly very important figure can be silenced in history simply due to gender. Things Fall Apart, and many other novels throughout history leave out most female characters, as if to erase the perspective of half the population.

Since the beginning of the Agricultural Revolution, women have been facing opression. They have battled against such stereotypes such as "Woman is the gate of the devil, the path of wickedness, the sting of the serpent, in a word a perilous object." A quote by St. Jerome, a 4th-century Latin father of the Christian church (Anderson 1). Even the Bible portrays women as weak because of Eve's folly. Throughout time, women have been fighting for equality, however it has been a long, drawn out battle. In 1900 American women could not vote, serve on juries, or run for elective office. Women's economic situation fundamentally depended on their marital status(Anderson 1). They depended on men for virtually everything. Some women even compared their plight to the slaves. In fact, during the abolition movement women delegates to the World's Anti-Slavery Convention held in London in 1840 were denied their places. (Womens History in America). This is almost an ironic turn, men not allowing women to participate in emancipation. Although they were still opressed, around the 1900's women began to gain a few small rights. By 1915 the American Medical Association began to admit women members.Around 1910, legislation was also passed to limit working housr of women and children. Although women were rallying in America to become slightly less opresed, this was not happening around the world.

This popular hit, "You Don't Own me" was recorded by Lesley Gore in 1964. During this time, women were starating to gain more freedom in the US and many famous women were starting to speak up about women's rights. The famous singer, Lesley Gore, used her fame to write this song about women empowerment and inspire others to pursue their freedom and rights. She passionately sings about women seeking more power and not standing for the dominance of men in society and relationships.

China in particular was abhorrently behind in womens rights. Foot-binding was still largely practiced until the 1920's. By having their feet bound, women were only able to hobble with the help of canes, and were mostly confined to the house. This displayed a large physical dominance of men over women, it also created a larger dependance on men by the women. Foot-binding could start as earlier as the ages of 3 or 4. The smaller the foot, the better chance at a good marriage (Xiaosui). Marriages were arranged by the men of the family and were mainly used as political or economical transitions.
(Dean Chen).
Although many women in China were oppressed, one in particular, an author by the name of Ding Ling, stands out. She wrote many short stories and fictional stories, many of which speak ot against womens oppression. This article admires her feminist writings, and although she switched political parties more than once, she was always a feminist.

At a time when many American women were beginning to obtain small victories, Chinese women were still objects in a husbands possession. In fact, when American women finally received suffrage, the Nationalist party in China was only beginning to outlaw the practice of foot-binding. Although the progression of womens rights has been varied, it has been much improved in a century. Now, instead of the male perspective, many women are in high positions. As Supreme Court Judges in the U.S., women in parliament in Africa, and Chinese women with increasing literacy rates, our story can now be told. These progressions are extraordinary accomplishments, making it all the more important to learn about the challenges women have faced throughout history in all parts of the world. Women today benefit from the progressions they made and can now share their stories without facing oppression.

Works Cited:

Anderson, Margo. "Women in 1900: Gateway to the Political Economy of the Twentieth Century." Journal of Social History (2001): 1. Web. 8 Dec 2010. <>.
Dean Chen, Kitty. Ling, Ding. I Myself am a Woman. Library Journal. August 1989: 134. Literary Reference Center. Ebsco. Web. 8/12/10.

"Womens History in America". Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia, Comptons New Media Inc.,
<>. 7, December, 2010.

Xiaosui, Zhou. "Feetbinding in China." Kaixan (2010): n. pag. Web. 9 Dec 2010. <>.