On Gendered Visual Culture: Inquiring into the Current Status of Gender Relations in Contemporary Nigeria through an Analysis of the Reception to a Feminist-oriented #EndSARS logo

Proceedings of The 6th International Conference on New Findings on Humanities and Social Sciences

Year: 2021

DOI:

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On Gendered Visual Culture: Inquiring into the Current Status of Gender Relations in Contemporary Nigeria through an Analysis of the Reception to a Feminist-oriented #EndSARS logo

Oluwafunmilayo Miriam Akinpelu

 

ABSTRACT: 

Nigeria is one of the many African countries whose contemporary realities have been shaped by the widespread presence of globalisation, digital technology, 21st-century wokeness, and the intensification of online activism against several forms of discriminations and social anomalies, especially as they concern race, gender and sexuality. These nascent developments make it necessary to re-assess the current condition of gender relations in the country; the necessity of doing this is foregrounded against the established scholarly knowledge that contemporary Nigeria has become highly patriarchal in spite of the fact its pre-colonial ethnic societies lacked strict gender binaries and were mostly guided by a matriarchal ethos. This proposed paper aims to inquire into the presence of patriarchy and genderism in contemporary Nigeria, and their varied manifestations amongst its 21st-century youthful population. Given the fact that artistic representations offer a glimpse into “received ideas” about a particular issue at a particular time, this paper will focus on visually analysing a single image that shows and speaks volumes about the workings of patriarchal reimaginings amongst youths in Nigeria. Although it is necessary to avoid the pitfall of synonymising gender with woman-ness as Joan Scott warns against, one cannot talk about gender relations in contemporary Nigeria without emphasising the disadvantageous, disempowering treatment of females.

The image that will receive focal attention in this paper is a cultural graphic icon framed within the larger historical context of the Nigerian-led #EndSARS activism which started in 2017. The hashtag was used by Nigerians on social media to share stories of the brutal criminal profiling, assault and murder of youths, especially males, by uniformed officers of a Nigerian police unit – the Special Anti-Robbery Squad. This #EndSARS activism was powerfully reignited in 2020 following the alleged killing of a Nigerian youth in Delta state; the rekindling of #ENDSARS led to a series of protests, hashtag campaigns and iconographic, transmediatic forms of resistance. It also brought together several age, ethnic, religious and interest groups, all of whom crystallised their agitations over police brutality in Nigeria. The image that will be visually analysed is a yellow-black #EndSARS logo which was one of many representative iconographies created in the heat of the protests. While the image was projected as an apt symbol of what #EndSARS signifies, it also generated a gender-related controversy that sparked a lot of reactions from Nigerian youths. Thus, it serves well as a referential lens through which the current state of gender relations in Nigeria can be determined and established.

Keywords: Gender, Patriarchy, Hashtag and Online Activism, #ENDSARS, Media Studies, Social Media, Cultural Studies, Nigerian Youths.