GENDERED SOCIAL TRANSFORMATIONS IN POST COLONIAL ZIMBABWE 

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CHAPTER TWO THE HISTORY OF GENDER DYNAMICS IN ZIMBABWE AND THE PRACTICE OF POLYGYNY

INTRODUCTION

This chapter explores and examines literature on the history of gender dynamics in Zimbabwe,marital practices in both traditional and contemporary Southern African societies and Zimbabwean Shona society in particular. Most importantly, polygynous marital relationships are examined in an effort to create a holistic understanding of this practice. The continuities and discontinuities of polygynous practices in contemporary Shona society are further explored as it is argued by some authors (Mutsetsa 2016; Mushinga 2015) that they tend to mediate the gender dynamics of the small house phenomenon. Since most Southern African societies are patriarchal in nature, it is imperative to examine how conceptions on patriarchy, sexuality in Africa as well as femininity and masculinity influence conjugal relationships in both polygynous and informal sexual relationships such as the small house phenomenon. Before exploring the history of gender dynamics in Zimbabwe and the practice of polygyny in detail, it is important to discuss key concepts related to gender dynamics.

PATRIARCHY AND MARITAL RELATIONSHIPS

When analysing gender, the notion of patriarchy is critical in certain societies at certain times as it tends to mediate the nature and trajectory of marital and informal sexual relationships. Patriarchy is an important element in the study of gender dynamics in small house relationships as it tends to define the confines of social interaction. Asiyanbola (2005) defines patriarchy as a social system of male authority which oppresses women in society and all its social, political and economic institutions. Aina (in Asiyanbola 2005) adds that patriarchy is a system of social stratification and differentiation on the basis of sex, which provides material advantages to males while simultaneously placing severe constraints on the roles and activities of females.Morrell (2005) adds that patriarchy is a form of male domination based on the powerful role of the father as head of the household which can be expressed in different ways. The notion of patriarchy is a social construct; hence it assumes varied conceptualisations in different social and historical contexts and can be resisted by women in different social contexts. Despite challenges faced in conceptualising patriarchy, in this study patriarchy is taken to mean the dominant position assumed by a man in marital or sexual relationships, such as the small house, where the man dictates the conditions of the relationship including issues to do with sexuality,domestic services and provision of economic resources for the household. Patriarchy thus becomes a social system in which men appropriate all important roles in society and family,and keep women in subordinate positions.The establishment and practice of male dominance over women and children is a historic process formed by men and women, with the patriarchal family serving as a basic unit of organisation (Asiyanbola, 2005). Kambarami (2006) concurs and adds that the family as a social institution is a brewery for patriarchal practices by socialising the young to accept sexually differentiated roles. From this perspective, the Shona males are socialised to be breadwinners and heads of households whilst females are taught to be obedient and submissive to their husbands. Similarly, a study by Sathiparsad, Taylor and Dlamini (2008) in South Africa reveals that Zulu boys were socialised to see themselves, as future heads of households,breadwinners and ‘owners’ of their wives and children and females were socialised to accept male domination and control and stay faithful, loving and subservient to their male partners.Such oppressive relationships tend to have grave implications for gender equity and equality in marital relationships including informal sexual relationships. Kamarae (in Asiyanbola, 2005)further elaborates that the term patriarchy was originally used to describe the power of the father as the head of the household but now it is used to refer to the systematic organisation of male supremacy and female subordination. A patriarch is thus considered to be the head of the household and within a family; he controls productive resources, labour forces and reproductive capacities based on the notions of superiority and inferiority sanctioned by the differences in gender. The social constructionist perspective portrays patriarchy and family as being produced by individuals in particular and in given historical contexts. Sathiparsad et al (2008:5) argue that when we look at different cultural constructs, there is no single and consistent image of patriarchy, and this renders the notion of patriarchy a relative phenomenon. For this reason Walsh and Mitchell (2006) caution against oversimplifying dominant notions of patriarchy and masculinity as being fundamentally oppressive, violent and subjugating to women as this may limit other ideas such as men being caring, sensitive and romantic. Such views may also undermine women’s agency in situations where women are dominant in households. Walsh (2001:17) views the term patriarchy as problematic since it implies a monolithic and totalising  system of oppression in which all men dominate all women, thus obscuring the differences between women as well as differences between men. Kandiyoti (1988:275) concurs and adds that the term patriarchy often evokes an overly monolithic conception of male dominance which is treated at a level of abstraction that obfuscates rather than reveals intimate inner workings of culturally and historically distinct arrangements between the genders. It can be observed that although the patriarchal ideology may be embodied and expressed in the lives of men and women, this does not mean that all men are dominant patriarchs or that all women are submissive victims (Sathiparsad et al, 2008). Moreover in South Africa, rapid political and economic transformation and urbanisation have led to the blurring of boundaries of gender roles and contributed to the uncertain and changing position of men and women (Sathiparsad et al, 2008). Although patriarchy tends to naturalise men’s power, the hegemony of a dominant culture is never absolute and men and women are capable of changing the culture that define them. In other words, since patriarchy is a social construct, it means a patriarchal mentality can be deconstructed, thereby creating gender equity and equality in marital and sexual relationships. To this end, patriarchal bargains are not timeless or immutable entities, but rather susceptible to historical transformations that open up new areas of struggle and renegotiations of the relations between genders. The processes by which male dominance is constructed and maintained are complex and subtle hence patriarchal tendencies in societies may not be simplistically generalised.

CHAPTER 1: THE PROBLEM AND ITS SETTING 

1.1 INTRODUCTION 
1.2 THE SMALL HOUSE DEFINED 
1.3 THE BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY 
1.4 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM 
1.4.1 Research Questions
1.4.2 Research Objectives
1.5 RELEVANCE OF THE STUDY 
1.5.1 The Knowledge Gap
1.5.2 Practical Value
1.5.3 Theoretical Value
1.6 APPROACH TO THE STUDY OF THE SMALL HOUSE PHENOMENON 
1.6.1 Theoretical Approach
1.6.2 Methodological Approach
1.7 OUTLINE OF THE THESIS
CHAPTER 2: THE HISTORY OF GENDER DYNAMICS IN ZIMBABWE AND THE PRACTICE OF POLYGYNY 
2.1 INTRODUCTION 
2.2 PATRIARCHY AND MARITAL RELATIONSHIPS 
2.3 GENDERED SEXUALITIES IN AFRICA 
2.4 UNDERSTANDING MASCULINITY AND FEMININITY IN AFRICA 
2.5 THE HISTORY OF GENDER DYNAMICS IN ZIMBABWE 
2.5.1 Gender Dynamics in Colonial Zimbabwe
2.5.2 Gendered Spaces and Women’s in Colonial Zimbabwe
2.5.3 The Reinvented Customary Tradition
2.5.4 The Migrant Labour System and Extra-Marital Affairs
2.5.5 African Women’s Agency and Resistance
2.5.6 Reviewed Gendered Relations in Colonial Zimbabwe
2.6 GENDERED SOCIAL TRANSFORMATIONS IN POST COLONIAL ZIMBABWE 
2.6.1 Women and the Labour Market in Post-Colonial Zimbabwe
2.6.2 Marriage and Gender Relations in Post-Colonial Zimbabwe
2.6.3 Gender Relations in Contemporary Zimbabwe
2.6.3.1 Gender, Land Reform and the Zimbabwean State
2.6.3.2 African Women and the Informal Industry in Zimbabwe
2.6.3.3 Women and the Decade of Economic Turmoil in Zimbabwe
2.6.3.4 Women and the Decision Making positions in Zimbabwe
2.7 THE PRACTICE OF POLYGYNY 
2.7.1 The Economics of Polygyny in Shona Society
2.7.2 Polygyny: A contested Terrain
2.7.3 The Evolving and Transforming Polygynous Institution
2.8 THE HISTORY OF EXTRA-MARITAL AFFAIRS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA 
2.9 RECOGNISED MARRIAGE FORMS IN ZIMBABWE 
2.10 FAMILY ROLES AND THE CONCEPT OF THE SHONA FAMILY 
2.10.1 Fatherhood
2.10.2 Types of Fatherhood
2.10.3 Absent Fatherhood
2.10.4 Motherhood and Family Obligations
2.10.5 The Concept of Shona family
2.10.6 Marriage and the Notion of Mhuri among the Shona
2.10.7 The value of Roora in Shona Marriage and Culture
2.11 CONCLUSION 
CHAPTER 3: THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: SOCIAL EXCHANGE THEORY AND AFRICAN FEMINISM 
3.1 INTRODUCTION 
3.2 THEORIES OF INTER-PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS 
3.2.1Commitment Theory and Social Relationships
3.2.2 Attachment Theory and Social Relationships
3.2.3 The Theory of Reciprocal Attachment and Social Relationships
3.3 SOCIAL EXCHANGE THEORY
3.3.1 Marital Relationships and Social Exchanges
3.3.2 Social Exchanges and Alternative Relationships
3.3.3 Social Exchanges in Traditional Shona Polygynous Relationships
3.3.4 Sexuality and Social Exchange
3.3.5 Marital Power and Social Exchange
3.3.6 Social Exchange and Social Structures
3.4 THE CRITICISMS OF SOCIAL EXCHANGE THEORY 
3.5 AFRICAN FEMINISM
3.5.1 Conceptualising Feminism
3.5.2 Conceptualising African Feminism
3.5.3 African Women in Pre-Colonial Zimbabwe
3.5.4 African Women in Colonial Zimbabwe
3.5.5 African Women in Post-Colonial Zimbabwe
3.6 CONCLUSION 
CHAPTER 4: METHODOLOGY
4.1 INTRODUCTION 
4.2 METHODOLOGICAL ORIENTATION 
4.3 RESEARCH DESIGN 
4.3.1 Research Paradigm
4.3.2 Population and Sampling
4.3.2.1 Gaining Entry
4.3.2.2 Characterisation of the Research Sample
4.3.3 Data Gathering Methods
4.3.3.1 In-depth Interviews
4.3.4 Data Presentation and Analysis
4.3.5 Trustworthiness in Research
4.3.5.1 Credibility
4.3.5.2 Transferability
4.3.5.3 Dependability
4.3.5.4 Confirmability
4.3.6 Researcher Reflexivity
4.3.7 Ethical Considerations
4.4 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 5: THE SMALL HOUSE RELATIONSHIP: A CONSEQUENCE OF THE SHONA’S REVERENCE FOR MARRIAGE 
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 POLYGYNY: A CULTURAL BACKGROUND TO SMALL HOUSE RELATIONSHIPS 
5.3 THE DIASPORA PHENOMENON AND THE SMALL HOUSE
RELATIONSHIP 
5.4 THE SMALL HOUSE RELATIONSHIP: A HAVEN FOR WOMEN’S SECURITY 
5.5 THE SMALL HOUSE RELATIONSHIP: AN ALTERNATIVE ROUTE TO MOTHERHOOD
5.6 ROORA AND SMALL HOUSE RELATIONSHIPS 
5.7 CONCLUSION 
CHAPTER 6: CHALLENGES AND SOCIAL PROBLEMS IN SMALL HOUSE RELATIONSHIPS 
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 FINANCIAL CONSTRAINTS 
6.3 GENDER BASED VIOLENCE IN SMALL HOUSE RELATIONSHIPS 
6.4 THE SMALL HOUSE RELATIONSHIP AND HIV AND AIDS
6.5 THE SECRETIVE NATURE OF THE SMALL HOUSE RELATIONSHIP 
6.6 BENEFITS AND CHALLENGES IN SMALL HOUSE RELATIONSHIPS JUXTAPOSED 
6.7 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER 7: ABSENT FATHERHOOD, SOCIALISATION AND SCHOOLING 
7.1 INTRODUCTION 
7.2 ABSENT FATHERHOOD AND SINGLE PARENTHOOD IN SMALL HOUSE RELATIONSHIPS 
7.3 FAMILY BACKGROUNG AND SCHOOLING 
7.4 CONCLUSION 
CHAPTER 8: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 
8.1 INTRODUCTION 
8.2 CONCLUSIONS 
8.3 CONTRIBUTION OF THIS STUDY 
8.4 LIMITATIONS 
8.5 RECOMMENDATIONS 
REFERENCES 
ADDENDA
Addendum1 Ethical Clearance
Addendum 2 Copy of Consent form
Addendum 3 Interview Guides for males
Addendum 4 Interview Guide for females
Addendum 5 Guide for follow-up interviews

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