Friday, February 5, 2010

Feminism, Senegalese Style

In my Gender and Development class on Wednesday morning, we watched the film Faat Kine, created by Ousmane Sembène. Sembene used the film to address issues that people don't want to face in Senegalese society and to present an alternative to the traditional African woman, and to some stereotypical aspects of African culture.

The film shows a lot of Dakar, but it also shows something that I haven't experienced very much here- free, independent, powerful women (although the woman who owns the beignet shop previously mentioned is certainly doing well, there's a line all the time). Faat Kine had two children out of wedlock, owns her own business, drives a car, is sending her children to college, bought her own house, and is what we would call in the US, sexually liberted. Now, I don't believe that the last aspect is necessary to be a happy woman, but all in all, Faat Kine is a formidable and welcome character.

The questions that I was left with after watching the movie were the following:
  • How was this film received by Senegalese society? Or was it at all? While Sembene is well known, a small portion of the population has access to films in the theatre or in their homes. And if the film didn't reach very broadly, that raises the question...
  • How is or isn't this film a depiction of Senegalese society? Where did Sembene draw his idea of an indpendent woman? Is it Western, or do I just think it is because I'm American? Clearly some aspects of the film are true to my experience here, but the film looked a lot different from the scenes I usually see on the TV here.
Below is a 5 minute scene from the film wherein three unmarried, successful women talk openly about issues that sometimes aren't addressed in Senegal. Check it out.

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