Nollywood is a Nigerian brand that has gained popularity across the globe. To its credit, thousands of Nigerian men and women derive their income and live comfortably because they play one role or the other in the production and screening of movies. Among the beneficiaries of Nollywood are women. These gallant mothers, wives and daughters compete side by side with men for the lucrative pie that is Nollywood.
Gaining but losing
In the midst of the impressive growth of Africa’s premier movie industry, it is possible to forget that cinema reflects society, and that women can gain financially but lose in other significant ways. This happens especially because is busy looking for livelihood and not much attention is given to the enhancement of women rights. How does Nollywood, consciously or unconsciously, promote or degrade women empowerment?
Nigerian film makers perpetuate negative stereotypes against women. Dr Akin Alao, a university don, “admitted that the Nigerian film industry has been reinforcing the social reality of stereotyping women, which he blamed on the media.” Fans of Nigerian movies will attest to the flatness of the typical Nigerian woman character in a movie. There are various images of the suffering women, the prostitute and the petite girl who depends on men for everything.
Of witchcraft, jealousy and flesh
One of the most common features of Nigerian movies is witchcraft. More often than not, it is the woman who visits a witch doctor to get charms to befuddle her husband or kill a co-wife or rival. When women act as university students, most of them are portrayed as being dependent on rich parents of boyfriends to survive. The woman’s work is to dress in scanty clothing with the aim of attracting her ideal man to herself. Further, there is more flesh and cleavage on Nigerian movies in relation to women than brains at work.
How about glorifying violence?
In addition, violence and sexual exploitation are prevalent in Nigerian movies. It is this aspect that moved Bayo Olupohunda, a Nigerian writer to start an online campaign dubbed, “Stop the violence against Nigerian women in Nollywood movies.” Her words would serve as nourishing food for thought:
Even when the portrayal of women in these scenes are a reflection of the evils done to women in the Nigerian society, the movies that portray them contribute to the problem by not taking an artistic stand on the side of justice.
Does Nollywood undermine women empowerment? Be the judge.