From The Late MP’s Widow to Bloody Widow: Roaming the realms of language and gender

The Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency by-elections held on 31st January, 2019 witnessed some regrettable brutalities meted out by state security to civilians. The election violence has opened yet another floodgate for political party activists to churn out their warped accusations and justifications.
 
The most recent pellet in the aftermath of the violence at the by-elections is the flaunting of ‘Bloody Widow’ placards by the Minority MPs on the floor of Parliament in protest against the elected ‘Widow’ of the late MP. This ill-informed tactic by the Minority has been fiercely met with resounding disdain by large sections of the Ghanaian society and that is impressive.
 
My interest in writing this piece is not to chide or hold brief for anyone. Rather, I seek to prick our thoughts on some taken-for-granted nuances in the ‘Bloody Widow’ issue. More particularly, I will focus on the ‘Widow’ tag and how it played out in the by-elections and its aftermath. There have been ostensible gender undertones in this whole matter. For instance, the criticism that has greeted the Minority’s inscription of ‘Bloody Widow’ has largely centered on the widowhood status of the elected MP – why it is inappropriate to lampoon a ‘Widow’ and why a man (Widower) won’t be treated in like-manner.
 
To contextualize this matter, it was first wrong for the MP’s status as a widow to be fronted by her campaigners in the by-election. Regardless of the status being bona fide, it relegated her qualities for the position to the background and rather projected her as a ‘Widow’. The questions then are asked: Will the status of a ‘Widower’ take precedence in a similar election in Ghana? Will a ‘Widower’ be impugned in the same way as the MP?
 
By applying Kristeva’s (1986) vertical intertextuality strategy to analyze the Minority’s ‘Bloody Widow’ expression, it is deducible that the ‘Widow’ tag employed by the MP’s campaigners and the violence that characterized the by-elections is what informed the Minority’s unfortunate textualization. What the Minority therefore did was to taint an already fronted tag. With people’s fury mainly bordering on the taint on the MP’s status as ‘Widow’, it seemingly appears that another expression bar ‘Widow’ would have been more suited to the context.
 
One thing runs through in this ensuing matter: we have a society that consciously and unconsciously considers women’s worth first in their gender statuses as wives, widows, sisters and so on. This problem is even more worrying when it is unconsciously endorsed by the very women whose competences are subbed for their gender statuses.
 
The 21st century woman deserves to be valued for her abilities and mind’s worth rather than her gender. By upholding this, the chances of indiscriminate people to ridicule women by their gender statuses will be limited.
 
Going forward, we must be conscious of how and when to front our genders vis-a-vis our competences and we must continue to shame and educate those who sidestep issues to impugn other genders.
 
 

by Kutu Obeng

@KutuObeng

Social Worker – Youth Development, Social Policy/Welfare

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