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IMPACT: International Journal of Research in 
Humanities, Arts and Literature (IMPACT: IJRHAL) 
ISSN (P): 2347-4564; ISSN (E): 2321-8878 
Vol. 8, Issue 3, Mar 2020,49-58 
© Impact Journals 


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Cliris-Biriowu, Belema Theresa, Okon, Godwin Basssey & Whtye, Dike Harcourt 

Department of Mass Communication, Rivers State University, Port-Harcourt, Nigeria 

Received: 12 Mar 2020 Accepted: 18 Mar 2020 Published: 31 Mar 2020 


This study examined female lecturers’ dispositions about feminism and whether their perception is in accordance with the 
various print media vibrations of feminism. The study was anchored on the critical theory. The study gathered data from 
respondents using the survey research design. The population of the study was a cumulative number of female lecturers in 
the University of Port Harcourt and Rivers State University, which amounted to 567 respondents. The copies of the 
questionnaire were distributed to 226 respondents who were drawn from the population using the Krejcie and Morgan 
online sample size table. The Chi square formula was used to calculate and test for a hypothesis. Findings revealed that 
while female lecturers’ perception offeminism aligns with print media colorations of feminism, their notions of feminism 
are both inborn (individualistic), and borne out of their socio-cultural and religious inclinations (generic). The study 
concluded that although the extent to which female lecturers agree to the colorations of the print media on feminism 
varies, there is an alignment. Based on the foregoing, the study recommended that the Nigerian society should recognize 
the importance of women, give women equal opportunities as their male counterparts and the freedom to live as humans 
rather than properties and that the Nigerian print media (particularly the newspaper) should be an advocate of women’s 
movements and help in giving women a stronger voice. 

KEYWORDS: Print Media, Feminism, Universities 


The discussion of gender biases and sexism may seem strange, exaggerated and extreme to women of the present 
generation. This is because the history and revolution that has brought about the relative gender-based development that 
women now enjoy in comparison to their male counterparts are not met with a universal appreciation. For instance, females 
were restricted in their roles and rights as individuals; they were not allowed to get a formal education, secure employment 
or exercise their franchise. Women were marginalized, relegated to the background and limited to performing domestic 
chores and duties. Societies were under the control of the patriarchy who assigned the scope and boundaries of what 
women’s roles should be. Up until the 18 th century, women by virtue of gender were considered inferior to men and the 
societal role of the females were perceived as second fiddle (Okon, 2016). The marginalization that women were forced to 
accept as the norm is what instigated feminism and women-based writings. 

There is diverse literature on feminism, and they have been met with varieties of reactions by readers. The term 
“‘feminism’ originated from the French word ‘feminisme’ and was first spotted in the 1880s in Hurbertine Auclerts’s “La 
Citoyenne - a - La Feminite ’’’(Ghorfati & Medini, 2015: 7) where she used the term to describe the domination of women 

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and to lay claims to the rights of women and emancipation that had been promised to them by the French revolution. 
Feminism is a word that was used to represent the collective issues of the female gender as a social category rather than a 
sexual one (2015). Feminism focused on women’s experiences and brought to bear the oppression that women were 
subjected to in the society. “Feminism’ is an umbrella term for a range of views about injustices against women” (James, 
1998: 61). In general, feminist struggle is about the emancipation of women with respect to their social, cultural, political 
and economic rights and how gender roles and identities are understood and altered (O’Shaughnessy, Stadler and Casey, 
2017). James (1998) describes feminism thus: 

Feminism is grounded on the belief that women are oppressed or disadvantaged by comparison with men, and that 
their oppression is in some way illegitimate or unjustified. Under the umbrella of this general characterization there are, 
however, many interpretations of women and their oppression, so that it is a mistake to think of feminism as a single 
philosophical doctrine, or as implying an agreed political programme (p. 146). 

The method of describing feminism may differ from writer to writer based on their ideological dispositions, but a 
universally accepted definition of feminism can be characterized as a struggle against all forms of patriarchal and sexist 
oppression. The issues of domination and oppression have taken numerous forms such that feminists have had to regroup 
where necessary and strategize to adjust accordingly. There are constant print media reports on women’s organizations 
coming together in one form of a group or another to champion a gender-based cause. Literature on feminism regularly 
discusses the fluid problems and social ills that women are faced with in the society as females (Harney, 2014). The 
challenges that feminism seeks to address today are worlds apart from the issues on which the foundation of feminism is 
based and women from different cultures have a varying degree of issues that affect them. Although feminist struggles 
began in the West, women’s oppression has been diagnosed as a general but diverse issue facing women from different 
cultures and nationalities (Walters, 2005). 

Despite the challenges that feminism faces, it has made a significant headway because women today, even in 
developing counties like Nigeria are relatively experiencing some freedom in areas that used to be the exclusive preserve 
of men. Nigerian women for the most part can get a formal education, exercise their franchise, get a job, hold top positions 
in the corporate world (even in the presence of men), etc. Feminism therefore ought to be embraced in Nigeria by everyone 
especially the women but most especially the women in the academia - who are saddled with the responsibility of 
transmitting cultural heritage through teaching. 

The focus of this study is to understand female lecturers’ mindset towards feminism, attempt to link female 
lecturers’ views of feminism with contemporary print media texts on feminism and to establish a connection between 
female lecturers dispositions to feminism with printed discourse. 


Feminism in Nigeria has been a distant tool of intellectual discourse and political action especially to women scholars and 
activists. Adichie (2014) stressed that everyone should be a feminist because feminism seeks to better the lives of women. 
In books, newspaper articles, magazines and other print media are writings about women’s movements and feminism. 
These literature chronicle women’s issues that go as far back as the 18 th century, describing the challenges and changes that 
feminism has undergone on its journey for women’s liberation. Having brought women thus far, it is surprising to find 
educated women who do not identify with feminism. In Nigeria, female lecturers who direct beneficiaries of feminism, are 

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Print Media Colourations of Feminism and its Notions among Female 51 

Lecturers in Select South-South Universities, Nigeria _ 

in the profession of teaching and research, and spend a considerable amount of time around printed materials do not overtly 
identify with feminism. This study therefore seeks to investigate what female lecturers in select South-South universities in 
Nigeria know about feminism, and if their knowledge of feminism logically aligns with print media depictions of 


This study was interested in understanding female lecturers’ notions of feminism in relation to print media texts on 
feminism. Specifically, this study sought to: 

• Find out how female lecturers of South-South universities in Nigeria perceive notions of feminism. 

• Ascertain that female lecturers of select South-South universities perception of feminism logically aligns with the 
print media colorations of feminism. 


The following hypothesis was casted from the research questions raised in this study: 

• HI: There is no significant relationship between print media colorations of feminism and the notions of female 
lecturers in select south-south universities. 


According to McKinnon (2007), critical theory is attributed to Max Horkheimer and the Frankfurt School of Social 
Research in Frankfurt, Germany. Horkheimer (1937) in his essay “Traditional and Critical Theory” stressed the need for a 
change in scholarly pursuit of knowledge affirming that textual interpretations must be strictly and ultimately for the 
purpose of understanding and consequently changing the inequalities within the social system. Critical theory at first 
glance connotes negativity because with the term ‘critical’ comes disapproval and disagreement (Littlejohn et. al., 2009). 
Yet critical theory has been proven useful in the study of communication (particularly political communication) because it 
offers frameworks to analyze the intricacies and incongruities of domination and oppression within an organization in 
particular, and society in general, in order that the oppressed and marginalized might engage in practical activities to 
emancipate themselves (2007; Brian, 2014; Wodak, 2006 as cited in Amadi, 2017). Critical theory sees theory and action 
as two sides of a coin, which means that where there is a textual examination of ‘domination’, the inexorable subsequent 
effect is ‘emancipation’. Exponents of this theory assert that theory and action should go hand in hand such that texts, 
social life and lived experiences are analyzed to find patterns and discrepancies in order to unearth and “destabilize 
dominant modes of understanding by surfacing underlying assumptions” (Harney, 2014: 1) with the intent of making 
hegemonic societies more equitable for the marginalized group. When texts are read critically, issues within the system 
such as gender, class, race, etc. would be uncovered by readers whose consciousness would have been raised so that they 
may search for ways to liberate themselves. 

The justification for the selection of the Critical Theory rests on the fact that the theory recognizes the importance 
of readers’ ability to be open to persuasion and attitudinal tilt should the text “appeal to their reason and ideal” (Gouldner, 
1976: 84 as cited in Amadi, 2017: 98). Critical analysis and interpretation of discourses are done so that individuals may 
find ways to change their existing circumstances specifically by helping the marginalized and the oppressed groups in the 

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Chris-Biriowu, Belema Theresa, Okon, Godwin Basssey & Whtye, Dike Harcourt 

society to attain and experience more equitable situations. In critically analyzing texts, society is better read and evaluated, 
bearing in mind the inequalities that exist in the structures, and critiquing such structures of domination so that the 
possibilities of transformations could be unearthed. 

The Rise of Print Media Texts 

The print media is the oldest form of mass communication. It is usually thought of as a source of news, information and 
entertainment, carrying messages to a widely dispersed audience, and binding people into communities by distributing 
messages that become a shared, relatable experience (Vivian, 2006). Print media texts are effective communication tools 
for learning everything about the world. History, art, culture, and religion are sustained by print media texts. Through the 
print media, thoughts and ideas are expressed and shared widely, and powerful forces use the medium to ideologically 
influence readers. Baran (2013) explains that the print media is a vehicle for carrying individualistic and generic thoughts. 

The print media can be traced back to the 1440s when the German, Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable 
printing press with which he printed bibles (Rodman, 2010). Before the advent of printed texts, hand-copied materials were 
used and the copy-making process was strenuous and painstaking, making the mass production impossible. Because of the 
‘sophistication’ in the ability to purchase, read and decipher meaning of written words and symbols, literacy was kept only 
for the monarch and elite class. 

Gender Perceptions in Nigeria 

The differences in gender as practiced in Nigeria is glaring. Men and women belong to two different social categories 
(Olcunna, 2002). As with every male-dominated society, gender relations in Nigeria is characterized by imbalance to the 
detriment of the females. Women are generally regarded as inferior to men, believed to be physically and intellectually 
weaker and slower than their male counterparts (Olusola, 2015). Women are kept in subordinate positions to men, and the 
society overtime, has become accustomed to it. Ojiakor (1997: 73) explains that “the Nigerian men have always believed 
that Nigeria belongs to them and women are at best the rent-paying tenant. Over the years, women have struggled to stay in 
this misconception”. The influence of culture and tradition on the “beliefs” of the Nigerian society cannot be 
overemphasized. For instance, a girl is taught to ‘respect’ her male siblings because they are boys, even when the girl is 
older; she must learn how not to stand up to a man. Women in Nigeria are generally seen as ‘the weaker sex’ which is a 
reason why they have low access to credit and income opportunities as compared to men (Okoye, 2009). In terms of means 
of production, and ownership of properties, women are also marginalized. Nwankwo (2001) states that “traditionally, 
women do not own land and therefore cannot inherit land either from their fathers or husbands”. The patriarchy of the 
Nigerian society reserves the rights to land ownership and inheritance to the males of the household. Along with the lands 
and estate, widowed women and female children are inherited by the males. Any immovable property a woman acquires - 
along with her - belongs to the man she marries. In terms of decision and policy-making, Uchem (2010) notes that it is a 
cross-cultural practice that women’s voice are scarcely heard, not even on matters that directly affect them. Decisions are 
taken for and on behalf of the society by men. Interestingly though, domestic chores are solely the responsibilities of the 
woman. President Mohammadu Buhari in an interview in 2016 said that his wife (the First Lady of Nigeria) belonged “to 
my kitchen and my living room and the other room”. Women are subjected to polygamy, child marriage, female genital 
mutilation (as a way of controlling her sexuality), all manner of domestic violence and abuse, dehumanizing widowhood 
practices, discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace, etc. 

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Print Media Colourations of Feminism and its Notions among Female 53 

Lecturers in Select South-South Universities, Nigeria _ 

Feminism and Feminists 

Feminism began as a political strategy to change the course of women’s subordinate positions as forced on them by the 
patriarchy (Walters, 2005). Although culture, time and country may change the course of the force that drives the 
movement, but in general, feminism around the world is about securing equal rights for women. Feminism became a global 
movement in the 20 th century; however, its origin is traced back to the late 19 th century when the term feminisme was first 
used by Flubertine Auclert (1892) in Paris (Gianoulis, 2015). What is understood as feminism today, did not start out that 
way. Interestingly, feminism was not a word that women used to identify themselves and women questioned their inferior 
status, subordinate roles and socio-economic positions long before the emergence of the term and not all women’s rights 
organizations called themselves feminists (Freedman, 2001). Fraisse (1995) observes that feminism in medical terminology 
was used to signify a feminization in men but was first used in political terms to describe the virilization of women. In 
defining feminism, many dictionaries emphasized the fact that it is a cause championed at improving the lives of women. 
Thus despite the dynamics that may have caused the changes that have inspired the existing multiple feminisms, the 
objective of feminism have always basically been to subvert the inequalities that exist among sexes. “Feminism is a 
concerted movement led by women to gain equal status with men” (Freidman and Weiss, 1995: 26). Feminism is the 
recognition of the discriminating positions that women have been placed in by the patriarchy, and the decision to do 
something to change such unnatural conditions. A feminist is one who has come to the realization that the socio-cultural 
and political organizations of the society that were put in place by androcratic structures have caused women to be 
subjected to gender inequalities and biases. Friedman et. al. (1995) paints a clearer picture: 

A feminist is someone who is interested in studying and understanding gender as a system of cultural signs or 
meanings assigned by society, to sexually dimorphic bodies and who sees these cultural signs, which constitute gender as 
having a direct effect on how people live their individual lives (p.27). 

Feminists see the binary composition of gender as a fundamental issue that breeds hierarchy and oppositions - 
masculine and feminine - in which masculine is always privileged over the feminine. For feminists, women are always 
limited by reason of gender as the males are always at an advantage to take the front and center stage on political, social, 
economic and cultural positions in the society. Feminists believe that this power structure is wrong and hence should be 
changed. Adichie (2014: 17) states that “a feminist is a man or woman who says yes there is a problem with gender as it is 
today and we must fix it”. Choosing to be a feminist simply means that the individual is looking forward to a fairer world 
where everyone gets to be treated as humans. 


This study was a quantitative research, which utilized the survey research design. The population of the study was the 
aggregate of female lecturers from the University of Port Harcourt (UniPort) and Rivers State University (RSU), which 
according to the schools’ registry (2019) was 414 and 153 respectively. The sample size of the study was drawn from the 
Krejcie and Morgan (1970) Small Sample Table, which indicated that at a population size (N) of 550, the sample size (S) 
would be 226. The study further adopted a proportionate sampling technique in order to determine an even distribution of 
the sample: 

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Chris-Biriowu, Belema Theresa, Okon, Godwin Basssey & Whtye, Dike Harcourt 

Proportionate Size for Uniport 

. . Uniport 100 

Proportionate size =-x — 

Population 1 

_ 414 100 

_ 567 1 

= 73.1% 

=73.1% of 226 = 165 respondents 

Proportionate Size for RSU 

_ . . RSU 100 

Proportionate size =- x — 

Population 1 

_ 153 100 

_ 567 1 

= 26.9% 

= 26.9% of 226 = 61 respondents 

The study distributed 165 copies to respondents of UniPort and 61 copies to RSU respondents using the accidental 
sampling technique. Data that were collected are presented in the tables below: 

Table 1: Questionnaire Distribution and Rate of Response 


Copies of 

Number of 



% Usable Copies 

University of Port 





Rivers State 










Table 1 above describes the distribution and retrieval of the questionnaire. A few copies were returned with 
deliberate or erroneous blank spaces and invalid entries, while a couple of questionnaires were incomplete and therefore 
deemed not usable for the study. Out of the 226 copies of questionnaire that was distributed, only 209 that were returned 
were valid for use. 

Table 2: Educational Qualification of Respondents 



Percentage (%) 



















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Print Media Colourations of Feminism and its Notions among Female 55 

Lecturers in Select South-South Universities, Nigeria _ 

Table 2 shows the distribution of educational qualification of respondents. Majority of respondents (75.9%) holds 
a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. Only two respondents (.96%) hold a B.Sc./B.A. This means that a significant 
number of respondents have attained the highest academic height. 

Table 3: Respondents’ thoughts on whether or not Women and Men 
should have Equal Socio-Economic, Legal and Political Opportunities 













Table 3 above shows that there is preponderance on the affirmative. This means that 94.7% of female lecturers 
agree with the idea that women and men should have equal socio-economic and political opportunities. 

Table 4: Respondents’ Perception on whether or not 
the Clamour for Equal Rights is Realistic 













Table 4 demonstrates that there is prevalence on the affirmative. This implies that 96% of female lectures support 
the notion that the clamour for equal rights for women and men is achievable. As indicated in the table above, 96% of 
respondents agree, which gives credence to the study. 

Table 5: Respondents’ Perception of Print Media Colorations of Feminism 

Nature of Responses 









Issues such as sexual abuse, domestic violence, 
abortion rights, sexuality, child marriage, etc. are not 
achievable in our socio-cultural setting 







Women's issues should be varied, weighed and 
addressed individually rather than generically. 









The fight for women's rights is redundant, flawed, 
misguided and no longer necessary 







Newspapers opinion that feminists are "men-haters, 
unattractive, lesbians, frustrated, divorced and 







Source: Desktop research 

Table 5 is a spread of the responses of respondents on the colourations of feminism as portrayed in print media 
texts. The majority of respondents disagree with the perception that the second wave feminists’ clamour for equal rights in 
the private sphere is not achievable in our socio-cultural setting and at a Weighted Mean Score of 1.8, the perception is 
disagreed upon. 

The majority of respondents are in agreement that with the third wave feminists that women’s issues should be 
addressed individually rather than generically. The result is accepted at a Weighted Mean Score of 2.8. 

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The fourth wave feminists’ idea that feminism is redundant, flawed and misguided is disagreed upon by the 
majority of respondents at a Weighted Mean Score of 1.3. 

The majority of respondents disagreed with the notion newspapers colorations of feminists at a Weighted Mean 
Score of 1.9. 

Computation of Values for X2 Test 

Hypothesis test on the relationship between print media colorations of feminism and the perceptions of female lecturers of 

Table 6: Chi Square Distribution 



0 — E 

(0 - E)2 

1(0 -E)2 














Chi calculated = 22.87 
Degree of freedom = 1 

At a p-value of 0.05, the null is rejected because the Chi Calculated is greater than the Chi Critical. This 
means that there is a significant relationship between the print media colourations and the notions of female lecturers 
of feminism. 


Findings in Research Question 1 showed that the majority of female lecturers (99%) agree with the general notion of 
feminism that women and men should have equal socio-economic and political opportunities. This finding is in 
corroboration with Friedman and Weiss (1995) who are of the opinion that women should gain equal statutes with men. 
Friedman and Weiss aver that feminism, which is all about achieving equal rights for women and men stand a better 
chance in today’s world because the world is changing and how individuals rationalize is also changing. 

Findings for Research Question 2 revealed that female lecturers perception of feminism do align with print media 
colorations of feminism in a number of ways. Majority of respondents perceived feminism to mean creating a better society 
for every individual by making the world a fairer place for the women. Feminism is all about removing restrictions, 
unconscious thoughts, negative actions or unconscious negative thoughts towards the female folk so that gender equality 
can be achieved. It means treating all humans equally and having their interests and economic, social, cultural, political and 
legal rights protected in all circumstances irrespective of sex. This finding is corroborated by the definition of feminism in 
O’Shaughnessy et. al. (2017) that feminism is a straggle for the emancipation of women in terms of their political, cultural, 
social and economic rights with a view to grasping the ways that gender is understood, and gender roles are assigned. 


The study concludes that Nigerian female lecturers of South-South universities’ notions of feminism are in alignment with 
what is recorded in print media materials. The level to which these female lecturers agree with print media colourations of 
feminism varies but all the participants of this study understood what feminism stands for and how the print media 

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Print Media Colourations of Feminism and its Notions among Female 57 

Lecturers in Select South-South Universities, Nigeria _ 

contextualize notions of feminism. Female lecturers unanimously agree that the conditions of women as compared to men 
are unfair and should be improved upon so as to close the gap of inequality. 


Based on the findings of this study, the following recommendations are hereby put forward: 

• Female lecturers’ notions of feminism are influenced by their specific socio-cultural and religious backgrounds 
and for the movement of feminism to be effective in making the Nigerian society a better place for women, 
feminism should be tailor-made to fit women’s individual oppressive problems. 

• Women should equip themselves with contemporary literature on feminism so as to be abreast with the 
development of the gender-based issues within their environment. 


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