I finally got a chance to watch the movie Acrimony. I think that it was well produced and I admire Taraji P. Henson’s acting. However, I’m torn in my feelings about the movie. I am more torn in understanding the most common and easy perspective that people have decided to settle with, in their interpretation of the film.
Recently, I was chatting with a writer regarding my upcoming book and particularly about a significant poem with the theme of mental health and suicide. I remember, while struggling to find the right ending to this poem, I mentioned to the writer that with this book, I have realized that sometimes, my job as an artist is not to interpret the narratives of many women’s lives but to state things as they are. My aim with my third book is not to feed my perspective into people’s mouths but to start conversations that will inspire diverse views. I believe that this chat with my fellow writer sums up what Tyler Perry produced in the movie: Acrimony.
Few days after watching the movie, I saw on another writer’s WhatsApp status; Ibukun Ogunyemi stating how she is withholding her review of it. Upon starting a conversation with her, she said that “the movie makes you a mess” which I agree with.
On the one hand, I get the message of the movie which is that we should not quit on our dreams or quit supporting the aspirations of people whom we love. But on the other hand, as a feminist, many things in Acrimony and the interpretations that I have seen online do not settle with me.
Many things in Acrimony makes me angry about our perspective and expectations of women in our societies.
1. We rarely ever see a reverse situation with a woman pursuing a dream and a man that has to suck her shit up while he supports her. It’s always the woman with the relationship and the man with the goal. I am angry that we teach and tell women to take more risks in romantic relationships and men’s dreams than we teach them to take risks in their aspirations or businesses. I am angry that we infer that without dreams men are failures while we say to women that without a man, they are failures.
2. I am angry that we religiously criminalize women’s humanity and we teach them that they are not only responsible for their sins but for the sins of their men. I am angry that in relationships and religions, men are not held as accountable for their actions as women are. This movie reminds me a lot of War Room which I do not like either.
3. There is the perspective of “if only she were patient to the end. . ." that motivates some women to make wrong decisions. This perspective reminds me of a comment I read on Instagram under a post about domestic violence where a young lady wrote; “That’s how they kept telling my mother to stay in my abusive father’s house until she started suffering from mental illnesses.” This comment forever burns in my memory, and it makes me question the end of our patience as women. We tell women to hold a moral and religiously drenched patience for other peoples desires while we hand men an unquenchable yearning of their desires.
4. Sometimes, in my criticism of Nigeria and its progress regarding gender issues, I think to myself that we live in an over-religious country and how much better will we be if our level of spirituality was as high as our level of religiousness? We do not religiously bind men consciences as we do for women and our current moral state is a proof.
5. There is the oversight of many perceptions of the movie which replicates our world’s realities where people, cultures, and ideas do not stand for women enough. This movie among many other devices says to women that men were made to touch the stars while women were made to pick up after men.
6. We romanticize women’s gullibility and call it wisdom. Many feedback that I have seen skips past the fact that the woman was robbed of her resources at the time that she could have found them useful. The main character was mentally, financially, and physically robbed of herself yet we say that she should have been patient when the real criticism may have been that she shouldn’t have been there in the first place. This movie reminds me of an excerpt of Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls” where she wrote; “Somebody almost walked off wid alla my stuff,” and I almost let them. I wish more movies portray women’s realization to walk away when they still have themselves. I want more movies that show the lives of women who faced positive outcomes from walking away because, in reality, there are.
7. I am disgusted at how we find a chance diminish gatherings of women who support each other by only presenting them as grape vines that lead to evil. There was nearly no moment in the movie when the women gathered to uplift themselves or when their gathering led to positive outcomes.
8. After watching the movie: Acrimony, I think to myself that if karma had a gender, it sure wouldn’t be female or with a rainbow flag promising good. I find it ironic how a man won’t suffer any consequences for theft or cheating, but the woman won’t have heaven for not standing by his flawed side when she was not even strong enough to stand for herself.
9. Acrimony and War Room make me wonder how many women’s lives will be better if their husbands prayed for them the same way, slowed down on their dreams the same way, cooked for them, sold their dreams, or stayed at home to hold down the family. Not to say that it is a bad thing when a woman does it but I am just extremely curious to see the outcomes of a different story. Some women are the ones destined to become the billionaires and have a financial breakthrough for their homes, but it bothers me that women are still taught to think that it is their job and destiny to shrink. We teach women that it is not in a man’s blood to take it slow or to lose anything or as much in the process of pleasing his partner. We feminize the idea of comprising in relationships.
10. I wonder, perhaps if she had invested her money in something else while she still had it, she would be more fruitful than him and been able to cater for herself and her family. I am angry that we do not consider the possibilities of women actualizing their dreams as much as we do for men despite their failures.
11. I wonder what the narrative will be if the characters were not romantically entwined or if it was a woman that robbed her husband or had a dream that took too long to take off. Or if it were a woman that cheated and her husband still took her in. I wonder!