Western values brought with the slave trade, globalization, and colonization infiltrate the ideas of marriage, sexuality, and intimacy in African societies. With “modernization” African historical values became distorted and more of the populace forgot their importance. “Modernization” did not help women as much as men. The opportunities for women are there, but their socioeconomic position and the African patriarchal society prohibits many from easy access to the job and educational opportunities. These influxes attempted to turn the Western perception of “savage” into “prim” and “proper” civilized people, but the long-standing traditions of African society cannot be eliminated nor described as savage. Some Africans of “Modern” society’s desecration of traditional values contributed to discrimination and the HIV epidemic, but Hawa’s shows the mixture of traditional and “modern” values of love, intimacy, sexuality, and marriage.
The cities’ autonomy creates an environment for young people to practice untraditional love and marriage in African societies, in which Esi and Hawa’s lives show the historical prevalent desire of multiple sexual partners although with changed intimacy. As contemporary African cities become increasing prevalent in Western and Sub-Saharan Africa the ability and desire to practice traditional marriage and love lessens. This ability lessens because women are able to enter the labor force, and women also experience less societal pressure to maintain traditional values. Therefore, even if women enter the labor market of rural villages, the autonomy of living in a city changes the options and repercussions. The essence of autonomy and its tendency towards unt...
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...ration is emphasized in a forty-nine-year-old African Betine in her reflection, “before, love (fitiavina) would order one woman to marry a particular man. Whether that man had money or not she would marry him but if there was a man with money and she didn’t like him she wouldn’t go with him” (Cole 434). Her perception shows that younger people cannot follow traditional values in a society that does not provide stability for women. Therefore, gifts have then increasingly served as financial stability instead of an expression of love and commitment. The stronger importance of monetary gain instead of intimacy is not a harsh attribute gained by the younger generation. Rather as Hawa expressed, the inability of the city life to provide financial stability left her with a scarcity of options, but through a version of the historical Fitivina she gains financial stability.
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