I (Tosin) was fortunate enough to visit Nigeria recently and I watched , “Wives on Strike” at the Ikeja City Mall. If there was ever a movie to watch with a large group of Nigerians, it’s this one. There was a good amount of commentary and feedback from the audience during the movie. I recall the mostly women audience audibly supporting Chioma Chukwuka’s character standing up to her husband and then a man in the audience shouted out, “settle down, settle down” which then ensued audience laughter. It was a generally good time for laughter.
Upon understanding the general gist of the movie the basic concept seemed eerily similar to Spike Lee’s , “Chiraq” which itself attracted a mixed response from audiences nationwide. The problems I had with, “Chiraq” are similar to the problems I had with, “Wives on strike” – which mainly was the use of female sexuality as both a comedic punchline and as a political/ societal vehicle for change.
The idea that men would honestly not be interested in political change unless they are threatened with a lack of sex seems to imply that men have no moral compass in which they would innately feel a marriage between a child and an adult is wrong and should be stopped. The effectiveness of a sex strike, as depicted in the movie, also implies that the only way women can affect change is by the use of (or lack thereof) their body.
The interesting thing, to me, about the movie was that the sex strike literally wasn’t important. It wasn’t the sex strike that got the senator’s wife, and people worldwide, interested in the case – it was the video of the village women physically stopping the marriage by not allowing the child in question to be taken away by the agbaya olori gbeske Chief. You could literally take out the sex strike and the end result would have been the same, the only difference would be the genre of film.
The sex strike was what contributed towards all the comedic moments in the film and without it the film would probably be a drama and not a comedy. That being said, the use of the sex strike was the biggest flaw of the movie for me. Also, the assumption that men wouldn’t just rape their wives and sex workers, which they already do without a sex strike, was pretty naïve.
It was also naïve to assume that women withholding sex from their men, and magically not being raped, would cause senate to pass laws quickly and effectively – now if they were withholding their money? Eh heee~ that would be more believable.
It was also naïve, and lazy if I’m being honest, to end the film in the father of the potential child bride having a sudden change of heart from not allowing his wife to work and being willing to sell his child, to suddenly accepting and complementing his wife on working behind his back. I wanted to see the media drag him through the mud and say the truth of him being an incompetent father. I wanted to see people worldwide send money to the child in order to go to school – for such a viral story we didn’t see much of the effect of that fame.
The biggest positive of the film was the indication of women’s political power, despite the fact that the power was displaced to their vaginas and not their morality and strength in risking their safety to save a young girl from a life of rape, harassment and misery.
Rating: 5/10 – If you like entertainment with a good heart and little logic or realism, then this is the movie for you. The general themes were nice, if they existed in a vacuum where rape and many other already existing facets of human life didn’t exist.