Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Do you know any Nigerian songs that denigrate women?

In resonse to my Bank PHB post, (see below) lamenting the crudeness of Bank PHB's ongoing "Stash and Cash" Promo radio ad Raven commented as follows:

I haven't heard the ad in question but I have to say that (based on the short snippet of transcribed dialogue) it hardly seems to denigrate women in general. Most stereotypes have a basis (even if it is merely a flimsy basis) in fact and this particular one stands, I feel, on pretty solid ground. There is a certain category of Nigerian women (or maybe we should say "girls" in this instance) for whom this sort of behaviour is de rigeur, this routine badgering of boyfriends, uncles and proximate males for substantial sums of money. It may be sad, but it also happens to be true. If a similar advert showed several young men planning internet scams in an attempt to get some cash for their "babes" one would be unlikely to say that this was insulting to "Nigerian men in general" even if one were not entirely pleased at the portrayal. So lets try and cut the Bank PHB people some slack. It might not be a great ad campaign, it might not be particularly tasteful but, let's face it, it's hardly a moral outrage.

Well said Sir. The stereotype's not completely unfounded. But, truth be told, I don't think that this [other] message is what the bank intended to pass.

This is what we might call a case of competing messages: the actual, intended message vs the unintended, but overriding (subliminal?) message. The end result of this conflict of ideas is something like "static" - the mental equivalent of it at least.
The Bank wants to portray females (perhaps the ad is targetted at women, who often seem to have more "disposable" income than their male counterparts - see footnote) who are zealously participating in the Stash and Cash promo, but what they end up doing is masking that message with another, one that enters the (nebulous) realms of morality, and borders on unflattering/denigratory representation.

But again, I agree with Raven's point. There are a lot of Nigerian girls who exist to "GET". I get, therefore I am. Popular (Nigerian) Culture is full of representations.

Our comedians probably get away with these crude jokes because of the elements of reality embedded in them.
A lot of Nollywood storylines are about the "Girl-Grabber" - a girl(s) who maintains a set of pot-bellied funders, unbeknownst to one another - at least one of whom will be a "Senator" - or go by the name "Chief". There's almost no Nollywood movie that doesn't have a scene where a love-struck male is shown buying up a boutique or supermarket to win - or keep - the heart of his beau, to the haunting music of a soundtrack.

How many Nollywood-portrayed women actually work at making their own money? If they're not married to or concubined to a rich man, then they are heirs to their father's empires (in which case you'll find them falling in love with penurious men)

So you see, our problems are deep-seated. Self-reinforcing negativities.

This is where Misan's comment comes in:

Yes, we do have a long way to go, but how for do? a letter to Bank PHB telling them to withdraw the ad? Why do Nigerian men feel this way? i was raised in the "where there's smoke, there's fire" camp so we need to establish our dignity (by addressing the root cause of our materialistic society, whatever that might be (poverty, perhaps)) AS WELL AS fight for our dignity (i don't believe the two to be mutually exclusive).


We need to address both the root cause (materialism) and the flowering (unrestrained denigration by generalisation).

Let's start here. Let's try to compile a list of (popular) Nigerian song lyrics that portray Nigerian women as money-grabbing species. Do you know any? Anytime from the highlife days to the afro-hiphop days? Or even folk songs? Please post them as comments, and include the name of the musician, the song title, and the offending lyrics.


*
1.Women are undeniably often the managers of the (not meagre) family "shopping income"
2.See the illiterate market women of Agbeni and Balogun who run trading businesses worth millions of naira and yet somehow manage to evade the official SME data-gathering exercises.

24 comments:

For the love of me said...

I am beginning o think that the stereotype is in ur headoooo. I am big Nollywood fan and NO,in most of the movies, the women have jobs, careers, families etc. The senator and sugar daddy crap exist but mostly in movies that had no story in the first place. In an average Nigerian film that you can watch from start to finish, the women are well placed. Frankly I dont care if adverts, films, denigrate women, my only concern is when the woman starts to belittle her own self.

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