We Must Write About the Angry Vagina: Guest Editor’s Note – Unoma Azuah

Why a whole women’s issue? Some may ask.  Why focus on a delivery that is strictly based on women’s perspective, especially when many tag such a subject as a clichéd matter.  Unfortunately, as repetitive as the topic may sound, women still remain at the bottom of the barrel. As clichéd as women’s problems may seem, women are still relegated to the level of second class citizenship all over the world.  As banal as it may sound, the saying, “It’s a man’s world!” still rings true.  In some of my past reviews, I have acknowledged what renowned scholars like Chikwenye Ogunyemi have affirmed, which is that some scholars call African and Nigerian Literature “phallic-dominated,” mostly written by male writers and reviewed by male critics who deal almost exclusively with male characters and male concerns, naturally aimed at predominantly male audience. This is why “we” must write about the angry vagina.

It’s been only recently that women’s writing started gaining its much deserved visibility. Nevertheless, the task ahead is still unnerving.  More glass ceilings need to be broken.  Female writers wouldn’t stop and shouldn’t stop dismantling barriers until patriarchy is destroyed. They shouldn’t stop this literary revolution until sexism and misogyny are obliterated.

This is the message the contributors to this edition address in quite a vigorous manner.  Women’s bodies continue to be policed and shamed. Women are still blamed for infertility.  Women are still seen as appendages to their husbands. They are still being indoctrinated into the belief that their status lies within the confines of marriage and motherhood and they are still being confined to fixed roles and prospects. All the featured storylines speak to the need for women’s empowerment and this is done refreshingly.

Zukiswa Wanner’s “The Dress that Fed the Suit” is striking. In the story, though the major character figuratively bursts out of the box she is placed in, the complexities of her emotions are explored and wrapped in a shocking resolution.  Halima Aliyu astutely breaks all the binary boundaries that curb her characters in her “Unreliable Nipples.”  Then JT Lawrence’s “Angry Vagina” gives a sense of balance to the whole narrative by presenting a comical, albeit forlorn, edge to their tales.  While JT’s vagina is personified, it becomes the one persona that bears the brunt of blames piled upon her for the multiple “homicides” that occur inside of her.  Consequently, as a character, the metaphorical image of the vagina becomes that of a warrior.  The question then remains, what constrains any woman to become a “fighter.”?  Sefi Attah, on her path, expertly paints a familiar but crisp picture of her female characters. They engage in conversations that swing from pedestrian to weighty, yet the crucial trends lie with the men, their husbands; Temitayo craftily captures the irony in societal expectations and the burden placed on women. The entries in this edition are especially ornate as a collection. The contributors approach these issues with beguiling tropes and intriguing twists.  Relish.




Photo Credit: Brett via Flickr

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