Nigerian talk shows are so vastly bland that the more I try to maintain my disinterest, the more they keep popping up on YouTube, on Twitter, on someone’s frigging Instagram TV. And even though female-centric talk shows à la 3 Live Chicks have been around for a while, there’s a new cultural appeal about shows plugged into the zeitgeist: social media conversations about feminism and other related topics now define the structure and tone of these shows, which are hosted by women.
Which makes Opinionated, on the surface, instantly interesting. The talk show recruits four women Akubeze Okocha, Toju Oluwatoyinbo, Rufai Remilekun Muinat and with Nneoma Okpara as host. Its first episode, which premiered on YouTube on Wednesday, unsurprisingly revolves around feminism and if it should be fully embraced. Nneoma remained quite neutral as she moderated the show. Akubeze identifies as a feminist and so her opinions were just an extension of her feminist beliefs. Only Toju and Muinat appeared to have diametrically opposing views on the topic, which is purposefully good for the debate but, at the same, indicative of the wide-spread ignorance about feminism, even amongst women.
”What are they even fighting for?” Muniat asks Akubeze, who had explained that women take different approaches in the push for feminism, from the soft stance to being aggressive even if it makes them appear as ”angry, bitter, misandrists.” Akubeze is a lawyer and I found her views keenly familiar, almost as if the show had devolved into a Twitter arguement and she was tweeting from a smart phone.
I don’t want to attribute Muniat’s ignorance of feminism to the fact that she’s a Muslim, because there are Muslim feminists who are challenging the status quo. But it’s a sad state of affairs to be so out of the loop, so unaware or even dangerously ignorant of the oppressive system of patriarchy. The topic soon dived into homosexuality and Toju said if she discovers that her child is gay, she would pray to God to make him straight. This dangerous view, unsurprisingly, was supported by Muniat. In a world where gay conversation therapy is still going on, in that parents violently subject their gay children to deliverance sessions or exorcism and the dehumanisation of LGBTQ Nigerians is still rife, her input was in bad taste.
Beyond that, the discourse on feminism and homosexuality still needs to be prioritized in our cultural conversations. And maybe, just maybe, opinions can be massively and positively influenced for the better.