Gender Consciousness in Computer-Mediated Discourse in Nigeria

Gender Consciousness in Computer-Mediated Discourse in Nigeria

Tunde Onadeko (Olabisi Onabanjo University, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-773-2.ch013
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The main preoccupation of this paper is the examination of language used in computer-mediated discourse and the extent to which it mirrors the society and how far women are involved or still discriminated against in Nigerian social world. To achieve this purpose, Discourse Analysis and Hymes’ Ethnography of s.p.e.a.k.i.n.g theory is adopted due to its adequate provision for various variables in communication. Corpus from “NaijaWorld” chat forum was used. From the analysis, it is realised that online language is used for many purposes. In addition, the norms of a chatroom and the Nigerian sociolinguistic variables converge to influence the participants. Some modifications to Nigerian social status-quo were discovered, that is, man-the-norm syndrome is being eroded in Nigerian social life with some recognition accorded the rights of women.
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Right from the creation period, woman has always been discriminated against. She is seen as an instrument of debasement. The view of the Bible, which was adopted by the Qur’an, has serious implication on peoples’ perception of the sexes as human beings. God has created man from dust and woman from the ribs of man – dust from dust. Woman, if presented in this manner, can be regarded as a mere appendage of man-the-superior sex. In both the Bible and the Qur’an, God Himself is often presented as a man as accentuated by Jesus Christ in “The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, who hath in Heaven….” In the Bible, the “original sin in the Garden of Eden was woman’s. She tasted the forbidden fruit, tempted Adam and has been paying for it ever since” (Haralambos & Holborn, 2004: p. 92). This then is the more reason why womanhood must be debased and treated shabbily?

In a patriarchal society all over the world, the masculine sex’s activities and traits are positively portrayed, while the feminine conducts and peculiarities are expressed in uncomplimentary negative expression. This indeed is obviously a proclamation of man-the-norm syndrome: where man’s activities are superior and woman’s acts inferior. This noncomplimentary attitude is the origin of the controversy on the language of public communication. One side of the divide stands for the change of sexism language to a gender conscious discourse. Feminist writers represent this school of thought and some of them rather recommend a total overhaul of current linguistic form (See Ayim & Goosns, 1993; Sakita, 1995 & Surin, 1995). Shepelak (1980) as cited by Michard & Violet (1991: p. 16) gives the real reasons for the resistance to change in sexist language as a perpetual “continuation of the socio-political control by men”. This unwholesome attitude of man eventually led to the vigorous resistance of the feminine gender in the United Nations. The UN World Women’s conferences:

  • It began with a year

  • It turned into a decade

  • It gave birth to a movement

  • It became a revolution. (Preview 2000, February 1999: p. 2).

In Nigeria, for instance, a woman is not expected to hold any very sensitive political position. The emergence of women of calibre like Efunsetan Aniwura, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Queen Amina (in history), Dora Akunyili, Okonjo Iweala and others (in the contemporary political terrain) is seen as an aberration. Against this background, this study is hinged. This chapter, therefore, attempts to examine the extent Nigerian social cultural variables influence the language use and involvement of female Nigerians in online discourse.


Source Of Data

Data for this study are transcripts of posts and threads retrieved from NaijaWorld virtual community discourse setting. From the archives of NaijaWorld, ‘posts’ were sorted according to their similarity of purpose and categorised under overlapping headings. The headings encompass many discourse situations. Some of the headings are:

  • 1)

    News Flash

  • 2)

    Relationship and Romance

  • 3)

    Prayers and Prayer Requests,

  • 4)

    All Nigeria

  • 5)

    Poetry and Music

  • 6)

    Da Joint

    • 2)


    • 3)

      Religion and Beliefs

    • 4)

      Politics, Life, Society and Social Issues

Key Terms in this Chapter

Thread: This is a response to a post.

Chatroom: discourse ‘room’ created on the internet for multicontributors’ participation.

Gender: This is the sex type a participant belongs to. It is used as a synonym of sex in this chapter.

Talk: This is a term used in this chapter as a synonym of conversation and discourse.

NaijaWorld: This is a nongovernmental online community formed over the internet to discuss issues affecting Nigeria in particular and mankind in general.

Post: This is the main topic proposed by a participant to their coparticipants. Each participant responds to it intimately. It is often re-stated to avoid out of context contribution.

Chat: This is an informal discussion on the internet among a particular set of people with common interest.

Computer-Mediated Discourse: This is the discourse situation that is engendered by hooking a computer to the internet for the purpose of having conversation with other ready participants.

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