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Telenovelas & West African Movies Taught Me To Pander To Men

I have been hooked on Ghanaian and Nigerian movies since I was twelve, and I jumped on the telenovela bandwagon at the age of 14. However, it wasn’t until I embraced feminism in my mid-twenties that I truly understood how much of my ingrained misogyny and ‘pick me’ behaviour was shaped by the content I consumed during my teenage and young adult years.

If you’re a fan of Nigerian or Ghanaian movies, chances are you’ve come across that classic African film where the rich heir or prince disguises himself as a commoner to find “true love” or where a rich man pretends to be poor in order to meet a woman who loves him in spite of his financial situation. Most of the time, the woman who becomes “worthy” is one of good financial standing who falls in love with him, after which he reveals himself to be rich. 

These movie tropes all share a common use: they perpetuate the idea that in relationships, it’s always women who need to prove themselves as worthy or “wife material”. These movies tell black women that men only need a job and money to be considered husbands, while women must “bring something to the table”. This usually means being submissive, a good cook, loyal, chaste, honest, respectful, caring, forgiving, and also hardworking.