Does Nollywood hate women?

We’ve all seen the movies. If you haven’t, I can tell you right now: It’s mostly always the woman.

It doesn’t matter what the film is; Action, Drama, Comedy, Thriller, Horror…it’s the woman.

Let’s consider this scenario: Boy and girl have been going out for years, boy gets rich and dumps girl in the most humiliating way possible, girl – previously spending all her finances on boy – becomes destitute. Girl turns to her late father’s brother – who incidentally ‘inherited’ all her father’s property because there is no heir – for help, uncle rejects her, girl lives on the street. After a while, girl gets rescued by random guy who takes her in and gives her everything, random guy proposes to girl after she scrubs the grime off her face in popular Cinderella move and reveals herself to be beautiful (even though at the time she was supposed to be living on the streets, she still had a french manicure which cost her N3,000 and it’s a nail wrap so there is NO WAY she was going to take them off just to shoot a stupid street scene. After all she has just agreed to lie down in a pile of rubbish and should that not be enough? Mr Director biko shoot around it now.)

Just as girl is getting used to the idea of spending the rest of her life with random guy, just as she is learning to love him, boy comes back with his tail between his legs after losing his fortunes to gold digger chick , begs her forgiveness for being a total cad, girl falls back into his arms. (Parts 1-4)

Boy dies and leaves girl (now woman) a widow with three children and she has to go through cruel widowhood rites, her daughter is almost raped by Uncle and her son joins a gang of marauders and is shot, and woman in addition to losing her husband is arrested on charges of prostitution and sent to court. (Parts 5 – 8)

Or this scenario: Beautiful independent working girl rejects rubbish lazy motor park tout suitor, then suffers a reversal of fortunes when she gets in a horrific accident. Motor park tout suitor becomes rich and meets her begging on the street.

I made these scenarios up but chances are, you’ve seen a film or three like these. But my question has always been, why does woman have to settle for no-job, lazy, mama’s boy suitor when she is already doing so much better on her own and can hold out for someone more her speed?

I know is some cases – like widowhood rites for instance – Nollywood tries to reflect practices that exist. But even in those situations, one can sense the director’s barely-disguised glee in meting out the cruelest forms of punishment for the women characters.

And don’t even get me started on the sinister succubus-type women a la Nneka the Pretty Serpent (fair-skinned women have never been so maligned) and Sakobi. Or the opportunity-lesbians whose only function in films seems to be reassuring men that a lesbian is only one as long as there is no man around.

Even the ‘strong’ women are villainous, relying on the strength of arms (Girls Cot 1- 3) or their charms (Blackberry Babes Parts 1 – infinity) erring on the wrong side of the law. It makes for entertainment, don’t get me wrong, but one cannot help but wonder, where are the ‘normal’ stories?

Does Nollywood hate women? Or is the industy simply holding up a mirror to society? If the latter is the case, is the hand holding the mirror devoid of misogyny?

6 thoughts on “Does Nollywood hate women?

  1. Does Nollywood hate women? Dunno. But it certainly does think women have a ‘place’.

    You’re right that in the movies that are about suffering, the women seem to suffer the most! I just think there is an air of misogyny underlying most issues in Naija and Nollywood just follows that trend. No woman who is independent or successful can be man-less, else your’e labeled ‘prostitute’. And then nemesis has teamed up with the fires of hell to await you…if you ever even get a paper cut, it’s because anya gi di n’elu.

  2. Despite being a mirror of our society, Nollywood has contributed and is promoting the dis basement of women and girls at all levels, they perpetuate sexist and chauvinistic stereotypes without addressing the points, or improving the position or image of women. Patriarchy in its crudest form Is exemplified by female suffering. Also negative stereotypes are used to qualify womanhood In nollywood films, women are depicted as vain, quarrelsome, jealous, diabolique, prostitutes, husband snatchers ..you name it, Or weak, passive, forgiving, indecisive, dull characters . Most injurious is the restricted box they have kept for actresses in nollywood films, in unchallenging roles, stereotypical roles. One thing that screams out from all the films is the point that all women must and should suffer. They must accept it and forgive it eventually and never challenge it. On the other hand women are often. Martyred in movies, not for any decisive or ambitious undertaking but for accepting, suffering, sexism, expliotation or suffering as part of her lot. Women are also depicted as naïve, and often saintly character. On the whole women need to be dipicted as people with the same equal social strata as their male contemprarys. They must be given positions and roles that can be admired by all, they must begin to adress issues like violence against women, sexism, and chauvanism. Roles and positions should not be based sex alone, the society and our films must change their attitudes to be progressive and women friendly.

  3. So it’s not just me bring a bit English about it then! Nollywood is huge in Sierra Leone but I haven’t watched that many films and this is one of the reasons why. The “moral” of the story is always a bit suspect. The moral of the last one I watched seemed to be do what your father says or things won’t work out right for you. Even if your Dad is telling you not to stop focusing so much on studying and start acting like your airhead sisters and care only about finding a husband. The family were a rich one too so it wasn’t about poverty.

    I couldn’t tell whether it was the directors misogyny or a reflection of certain elements of Nigerian society. The films often seem quite extreme in their treatment of women. I’d be interested in getting some recommendations for some Nollywood films to watch if u can help with that. Kind of need it for work. Looking for a variety of stories and settings so I can begin to build a picture of what Nollywood is.

    Thanks for this post. I’ve found this and your others very entertaining.

  4. Hajara makes great points. Its as if women are expected to aspire to Sainthood and with the late Ogochukwu Onuzu’s letter making rounds, her attitude begins to make a little sense.

    I am more irked by the fact that Nollywood could have used that most powerful media to TEACH!! not just to reflect back society and make us nod our heads and say ehen..or tufiakwa.

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