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?