Does “The Modern Woman” Break the Glass Ceiling or Reinforce Stereotypes?
It was said in the past that when a woman becomes a scholar, there is usually something wrong with her sexual organs. But is this true? As witty as this sexist saying is “The Modern Woman” tries to shove it down our throats.
Undoubtedly, Nollywood has recently made laudable progress in portraying the positivity in women’s empowerment, but this time it has fallen short of the accurate depiction of women’s empowerment, producing laughable results.
The film takes us into the world of Jennifer Kehinde (Sharon Ooja) who has just become a lawyer. She struggles with feelings of insecurity, courtesy of her perfectionist, feminist mother, Keke Kehinde (Bimbo Akintola), who is also a lawyer.
As the film progresses, Jennifer gets engaged and later marries Roland Okeke (Timini Egbuson) who works at her mother’s law firm.
On the night of their anniversary, Jennifer tells Roland that she is pregnant. He is excited and announces it to anyone who cares to listen at the restaurant. This excitement, however, does not last as it is interrupted by a call from Jennifer’s mother. From this moment, we are ushered into a world of hilarious unbelievability.
The film attempts to portray bitter and senseless characters as feminists, making them the villains in this story, not because of their despicable personalities, but because they slapped on them the feminist tag. What a wrong period to paint such an inaccurate narrative!
The first example of the “feminists” in “The Modern Woman” is Jennifer’s mother. She is obviously disgusted by anyone asides herself and she lacks empathy. This is evident when Jennifer miscarries her pregnancy and she visits her. She proceeds to make a speech about how Jennifer is not choosing a good life for herself by trying to start a family instead of working on her struggling career.
While her daughter wallows in emotional and physical pain, the only thing she can provide as comfort is a lecture. She hates herself, her daughter, and her daughter’s husband. This is simply a character devoid of empathy and good reasoning but hey, let’s call her a feminist.
The next example is Jennifer’s neighbors. The producers of this film went all out for this one. They designed almost every act that the average Nigerian society kicks against and plastered it on these characters. Guess what? They are feminists too!
We meet them vaping in little to no clothing by the poolside and they begin dishing out unsolicited advice to Jennifer who, for some reason, announces that she is going inside to cook for her husband.
They tell her not to cook for her husband and explain that she does not need a man. Quickly, she is added to a feminist group chat. As soon as Jennifer goes into the house, she begins to attack her husband. Thank you feminism!
The film takes the silliest turn when Jennifer’s husband is caught in a compromising situation with a domestic staff who was hired to cook meals. Her husband’s moment of weakness and the unprofessionalism of the domestic staff is depicted as the consequence of feminism.
Eventually, when Jennifer decides to push her career to the backseat and sit at home, guess whose pregnancy reaches full term? You guessed right! Remember kids, you cannot have a job and be pregnant till delivery. Reproductive organs do not work that way.
“The Modern Woman,” though with a questionable storyline, has a talented cast. Sharon Ooja plays the role of an impressionable woman perfectly. Her facial expressions when taking in advice from every breathing thing were incredible! The perfect depiction of a woman who does not know what she wants.
Timini Egbuson absolutely delivers as he perfectly transitions from playing a wonderful, caring husband to a weak one who makes a mistake that could have been avoided if his wife had just stayed at home. Incredible.
Bimbo Akintola also eats up her role as a cold-hearted woman. Towards the end, she delivers an artistic act as she struggles with human nature but loses in the end, letting out a stream of tears.
“The Modern Woman” had the potential to challenge societal norms and inspire change but through its uninspiring storyline, it missed out on that opportunity. It would have been perfect if it showed that you do not have to be put in a box simply because of your gender.
You CAN be a wife, girlfriend, mother, or daughter and still excel in your career. You do not always have to choose. Many women have done it, are doing it, and will continue to do it but alas, like its protagonist, the film could not do more than one thing wrong.
Is there a gem in this film that we failed to identify? Is “The Modern Woman” an attempt at something satirical? See for yourself!
“The Modern Woman” is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
Release Date: August 18, 2023
Runtime: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Streaming Service: None. Cinematic Release
Director: Yomi Black
Cast: Sharon Ooja, Timini Egbuson, Juliet Ibrahim, Kameel Audi, Nene Nwanyo, Bimbo Akintola, and Chinonso Arubayi