AJAP - AMAMIHE Journal of Applied Philosophy
Vol. 21 No. 3, 2023
Chikelu I. Ezenwafor-Afuecheta & Chika M. Idoko


This work aims at investigating linguistic sexism in Igbo as an evidence of a symbiotic relationship that exists between language and culture. One of the apparent instances of linguistic sexism is found in the use of Igbo proverbs. The Igbo proverbs are an embodiment of the Igbo worldview which encourages male domination over the female. This work discusses the Igbo sexist proverbs in two ways. First, it attempts to give a literal and contextual analysis of the Igbo sexist proverbs using the social construct theory. Second, it assesses the attitude of the Igbo natives towards these sexist proverbs using a quantitative approach that cuts across different genders, age groups and social classes. The data for this study are obtained from both primary and secondary sources. Our findings show that sexist Igbo proverbs are mostly targeted at the female gender. An analysis of most of the identified sexist proverbs show that their meaning and usage are not based on current physical reality but rather, on a collaborative consensus aimed at perpetuating negative gender stereotypes and promoting the patriarchal culture of the Igbo society. Based on our questionnaire however, a positive shift is observed in the disposition of the younger generation towards the use of the Igbo sexist proverbs, resulting from exposure and enlightenment on the issue of gender equality.

Keywords: Igbo proverbs, Social Construct Theory, Linguistic sexism, Language and culture

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