In her essay titled “The Mother Africa Trope,” Florence Stratton makes a number of particular arguments, including the following:
- Many male African writers present Africa itself in their writings “in the figure of a woman.”
- This way of thinking of Africa may have roots in some native African cultural traditions.
- Ultimately, Stratton hopes to show that
the trope operates against the interests of women, excluding them, implicitly if not explicitly, from authorship and citizenship.
- In the writings of many recent male African authors, the depiction of Africa as a woman helps to counteract negative colonial stereotypes.
- However, the stereotype of Africa as a woman can also help support colonial stereotypes that associate Africans with emotions rather than with reason.
- Depicting Africa as a woman may help to strengthen such binary categories as
male and female, domination and subordination, mind and body, subject and object, self and other.
- The stereotype of Africa as female makes the male writer the powerful figure.
- Often male writers present Africa not simply as a woman but as a mother. Africa is thus expected to
bear the writer’s interpretation of history, just as she might bear his baby.
- Male writers sometimes vary the stereotype (for instance, by presenting Africa as a prostitute) but it remains very common in their writings.
- Sometimes male writers associate the idea of Africa as woman with the idea of African traditions, with the woman as a metaphorical figure of cultural continuity.
- In the final analysis, the trope
justifies and therefore serves to perpetuate the status quo of male domination.
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