Portrayal Of Women In Nollywood Movies – Sexism and Gender Profiling

Women are plagued by a number of gendered challenges such as inadequate education, early marriage and being objects of male gratification. Some of these challenges are results of the sex roles ascribed to them. The issue of sexism and gender profiling in nollywood is a growing concern for public viewers and the focus has primarily been on sex stereotyping in movies and the role in perpetuating discrimination, encouraging the disparity. Women are more communal and domesticated, and these beliefs stem primarily from the distribution of women and men into social roles. The different social roles and effect on Nigerian women, from being categorized as homemakers, child bearers, cooks and care givers, Nigerian women are domesticated and these social roles define how others perceive them. They are also portrayed in traditional roles that reinforce gender stereotypes that depict women as weak, passive and dependent, women’s stories are often presented in stereotypical ways as domesticated, victims and helpless.

Physical Appearance

Sexual objectification of female characters isan unwritten convention in the film industry. The act of sexualisation manifests in the way female characters are dressed and addressed. Most nollywood movies depicts female characters in ways that suggest they are mere “appendages to men, object of sexual gratification or lust.” Covert and overt sexism is intricately woven in Nollywood stories.

Occupational or Professional Life

The depictions of women in films across many countries do not reflect “the slow but steady progress” women have made across professions. In Nollywood, women characters appear to be confined to specific occupational interests which minimize the quantum leaps they have and continue to make in the political and economic fronts.

Family Life

Most female characters in Nollywood films are commonly set in domestic roles, often as sexual partners and homemakers. It seems the ultimate goal of females in films is generally to satisfy their husbands’ sexual needs. Few are depicted as breadwinners that hold together the entire family. In the few instances where women are cast as working class, they tend to be portrayed as “insubordinate wives and uncaring mothers”. Ironically, where Nollywood attempts to promote the progress made by women in the political and economic arena, “they are constantly reminded that everything they have worked hard to achieve is irrelevant without conforming to the cultural construct of a good woman in their domestic lives”

Interpersonal Relationship

Nollywood stereotypically depicts women “as warm and incompetent”; on the other, it shows them as “cold and competent when they compete for the same resources as the dominant group”. Nollywood tends to suggest that women cannot find fulfilment or self-actualisation without the help of others which in most cases will be men and usually, the husband, father, or other male relatives. Interestingly, when females are cast as independent or feminist, they are portrayed as selfcentred and materialistic, while “men are typically shown as heroes who rescue the community from the clutches of these liberated women”. What this means is that the critical role of generating new cohorts of outstanding, independent and powerful females in business, politics or the professions, is simultaneously severely hampered.

In conclusion, gender inequality is still prevalent in Nollywood. The continuous construction of women along preconceived lines as sex symbols, the weaker gender who are invariably desperate, dependent and incapable of carrying out certain tasks, tends to make notice negative images of women in the minds of the audience and over time this view of women is reproduced through this narrow and prejudiced prism. Nollywood film producers should be conscious of the harmful and erroneous impressions that can result from portraying women in terms of their sexual characteristics and societal perceptions. Effort should be made to emphasize women’s accomplishments and successes in several spheres of life, rather than contributing to the challenges women face in overcoming patriarchal stereotypes