“Americanah” by Chimamanda Adichie
In the book Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie, women’s earning potentials are vividly shown based on experiences that Ifemelu and her Aunty Uju have in both Nigeria and North America. These earning potentials affect gender roles and expectations in Nigeria and North America because women are expected more to be the house keepers and mothers rather than ever having a job themselves. Nowadays it is much different as the feminist movement continues to grow across the world. This is presented throughout the book in different examples where it is shown that Nigeria and North America are patriarchal societies. Throughout the book, men are considered to be the ones that have important careers and it is difficult for Ifemelu to find a job because of this. After coming to America, she works hard to overcome these obstacles and empower herself and women just like her. Through analysis of the gender roles and expectations in Americanah, the difference between men and women in pay inequality is prevalent both in developing and developed nations and is explained through examples of how the countries like America and Nigeria are working to overcome these differences.
The first aspect of pay gap and discrimination in Americanah is shown in Nigerian women. Many women in Nigeria have to deal with discrimination in their workplace because of the fact that they are female. Women in Nigeria also do not get paid as much as men do. This is a common issue in Nigeria as well as America. Often, men are offered higher paying jobs or careers in higher up positions than women are. Women are usually offered jobs that more subordinate to jobs that men are offered. In Americanah, Ifemelu’s Aunty Uju is a mistress to a man that is in a high up position in the Nigerian Government where he earns a large amount of money. He makes sure that she knows that she can have any money that she needs, but he also makes sure to not give her too much money that she would be able to leave him with. The General and Aunty Uju end up getting pregnant and having a child. After he dies in a plane crash, Aunty Uju feels as though she needs to have a better life for herself and her child and she decides that she needs to come to America to find better opportunities.
Although the pay gap and discrimination of women is less prevalent in America than it is in Nigeria, it is still a problem between genders. Many men in America have no clue that there is a pay gap. Most believe that is just something that women complain about, when it is actually a problem that is still occurring. Women in America have been striving for equal pay for decades by working hard and showing that we can do the same things that men do but have not made much progress. In Americanah, Ifemelu follows Aunty Uju to America. She wants to find a job and better opportunities but ends up struggling to find anything. After struggling to find a job, Ifemelu starts using an American accent when talking to people. Ifemelu eventually runs out of money and has to start looking for other ways to make money. She finds a post online about helping a coach relax. When she goes to begin her job, the man touches Ifemelu in a sexual way and then pays her one hundred dollars for letting him touch her. She feels disgusted and embarrassed that she allowed him to do this for money. This is a good example of how men assume that women in America cannot perform any other tasks besides having a use for their bodies. Men assume that women can only be mothers, housekeepers or have jobs that please men.
I think that there are a lot of similarities in Nigeria and America with gender pay gap and how women are perceived in each country. I believe that America’s discrimination of women is a lot less severe than the discrimination of women in Nigeria. You can easily see in Americanah how women are treated poorly in both America and Nigeria. In the book, Ifemelu and Aunty Uju both go through a lot while trying to create a better life for themselves in both countries. They are treated poorly because of their race and gender.
In conclusion, women’s earning potentials are very different than men’s earning potentials in America and Nigeria. Women are expected to be mothers and to work their best to please men. This is a culturally outdated idea and Chimamanda Adichie helps to explain this throughout Americanah. Through analysis of the gender roles and expectations in Americanah, we can see that the difference between men and women in pay inequality is prevalent both America and Nigeria. This book helps people understand where these issues exist and how to overcome them.