The Bookshelf: Nervous Conditions
Set in Zimbabwe, this book transports the reader into an unfair, sexist world where men are entitled to everything whereas women are not even given the right to ask for such 'priveleges.'
Tambu is a girl that yearns to be educated in a time and place where education for females is considered a waste of time. She speaks about the unfairness of her brother being allowed to be educated when she cannot be, even though she volunteers to work and pay for it herself. A woman, she realises, is nothing more than a possession, and she strives to be as independent as her aunt and cousins who are products of a missionary school. She believes that their Western mindset will free her from the shackles of her oppressive society
The quotes that particularly stood out for me were, "(He made) her a victim of femaleness. The victimisation, I saw, was universal. It didn't depend on poverty, or lack of education, or tradition. Men took it everywhere with them." and "What I didn't like was the way all the conflicts came back to this question of femaleness. Femaleness as opposed and inferior to maleness."
From this we see that Tambu realises that female victimisation is a universal truth. No matter which country you are in or what cultural background you are of, a female is made to feel inferior.
While I am, personally, not a feminist in all regards, because I don't believe a woman should be given equal rights and responsibilities to men, I do notice this recurring victimisation and am, quite obviously, opposed to it.
Although the book is a tale of a girl brought up in a time where every man has a superiority complex and the majority of females are deprived of their rights, as well as having a family that believes that this system is correct, I can somewhat relate to the inner meanings of this book.
Coming from a place where female education is considered unimportant and males are told to acquire an education, as well as many other rights such as "A woman shouldn't be morw educated than her husband" are acceptable, I have seen what it means to have females become subdued people with a lack of personality or interest. I am, by no means, a huge fan of education, due to religious implications, yet I cannot stand to hear, "Girls must stay at home, boys need an education" I believe that if there is harm in education for girls, there is an equal amount of harm for males, and by telling me that boys 'are hormonal and we expect this of them' you aren't going to justify your idealogies, simply because their hormones require a female. A male is by no means superior to a female when it comes to what is right and wrong, and equality on this basis is something I would fight for regardless of what others think.
As the story progresses, we notice that although Tambu shifts from a very rural to more and more urban, modern environments, she is still exposed to the same level of victimisation, just on different scales. This speaks millions with regards to feminism across the globe. Though the Asian or African continent may be considered oppressive in their mindset towards females, first world countries experience these problems too. No one is left out of the female=inferior equation.
Other than the deep and riveting message behind the story, I feel as if it was rather badly executed and conveyed.
If you're looking for a monotonus, long winded and extremely boring book, Nervous Conditions is perfect for you. Yes, the plot could potentially be a great one, but the lack of action and development, albeit Tambu's achievements, throughout the story makes it a book that could very easily be put down.
The writer tends to stretch an event in order to describe to you the intricate details of it, and therefore ends up over describing as well as over emphasising on the situation. What could have been condensed into a page is instead spread over an approximately ten page chapter. The sentences too, are rather long, and if you had to read it out loud, would require many pauses where there isn't punctuation for it.
All in all, it could have been a #storyoftheyear if we had looked at the plot alone, but from an overall perspective, it isn't a grand book and not one I'd recommend others to read