Dorcas Shola Fapson will probably won’t make it in the list of in-demand actresses. And, admit it, many of you didn’t know who she was until her 2018 Taxify saga, wherein she recorded herself accusing a Taxify driver for trying to kidnap and rape her, all of which morbidly excited the internet. Now Shola Fapson is back in the news: she made an emotionally-stirring adaptation of the Paulette Kelly poem I Got Flowers Today, starring herself and Mawuli Gavor as a married couple.
Kelly’s poem, released in 1992, is a tragic, harrowing story of domestic violence where the woman endures her husband beating her until she dies, and receives flowers at her grave. Shola Fapson’s adaptation still preserves the integrity and tone of the poem, the somberness and quiet despair as she deals with a temperamental Gavor, beating her regularly and forcing her into have sex with him, even though she wasn’t in the mood.
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While the adaptation is full of resonance and tragic beauty, it overwhelmingly panders to public emotion and doesn’t elevate the conversation of domestic violence where men face accountability, and the consequences of their actions. To reiterate, Kelly released her poem in 1992 and this is 2019, still a dystopian hellscape but with women speaking out now, against sexual harassment and rape and abortion bans and our social media feeds clogged with dizzy, infectious feminism.
A huge part of women speaking up against these injustices has been about calling out men, and how they are explicitly and implicitly involved in the oppression of women. In Shola Fapson’s adaptation, she regrettably says from the grave, ”’If only I had the strength and courage to leave, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten flowers.” The flowers are ceremoniously from her husband, who would go on to marry someone else and continue to live his life, while she can’t get hers back. Where’s the accountability? I’d expected Shola Fapson, given our current cultural moment, to put a different spin on the poem because this adaptation will only be lost in the deluge of others.
Statistically, women who endure toxic abuse and violence from their partners end up dead, so telling women to stay in such relationships is suicidal, in itself. Furthermore, women being unable to leave their marriage or relationship happens for a number of reasons, one being that they have been gaslighted by their abusive partners to depend on them. While it takes a certain kind of courage to severe ties, we are still putting the onus on women to deal and manage domestic violence, and it has never been good enough.