Chi-Raq| Women (Dis)Empowerment

The portrayal of women in Chi-Raq for me was pretty disconcerting. Though Lee tries to portray women as strong and independent, he reduces them to sexual objects. While he affords them the main role as the catalyst for change, he simultaneously suggests the women have nothing to offer besides sex. Sex is also often repeatedly talked about as only fulfilling for the men and the strike suggests they are entitled to having women please them. Much of Lysistrata’s motivation for the sex strike is also to keep the men safe, “… you wanna lose your man to a drive by?”(29:00)Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 2.36.53 PM.png

Even as both Lysistrata and Indigo’s men demean them and verbalize how easy it would be to replace them, they stand firm in their relationships with them. They are steadfast in these relationships with fairly verbally abusive men. The women are continually portrayed as nothing more than sexual objects for the man in their life and that seems to be reflected in not only how the men speak about them, but how the women talk to each other and about each other, referring to other women as “thots”, “whores”, etc. They are objectified and reducing themselves to having a single function, “No Peace, No Pussy.” They stay locked away with chastity belts for about 3 months leaving us to wonder if they have any other responsibilities in life. Do they have jobs? Does anyone go to school? What about the mothers? Is their only role as girlfriends or wives? Aren’t they bored??

Did anyone else share these concerns or feel that the portrayal of women in Chi-Raq was outrageous and demeaning?



Chi-Raq | Music

Throughout the film, Lee empowers women through their ownership of sexuality but at times undercuts it through the use of music. In the musical scene at 1:21.40, Lee utilizes the song “Oh Girl” which preaches the powerlessness of men without women in their lives, “Have you ever seen such a helpless man.” Though the lyrics place the power in the hands of the women, their behavior in response to the song demonstrates the opposite as they slowly succumb to the song.They were only successful in resisting the “stimulation” of the music through the assistance of ear plugs. The dependence upon these ear plugs emphasizes the inability of women to resist temptation set forth by men without outside aid. The ownership of women’s sexuality is the only consistent source of power for these women, yet the oversimplified “Operation Hot and Bothered” is nearly successful by men in taking that power back.

@blake199 @gbeecham18

Mo’ Better Blues| Role of Women

I wanted to continue the discussion behind the role of women in Mo’ Better Blues by looking at the character development of both Clark and Indigo. Julia mentioned in an earlier post she was uncertain as to whether or not Lee’s poor depiction of women was intentionally trying to make a point or whether there was a misguided clumsiness involved- I would like to argue regardless of Lee’s intention, he’s reiterating a stereotype which offers women are incapable of independence and exist for the sake of men.

With the introduction of two love interests, Clarke and Indigo, women are immediately introduced as interchangeable, sexual objects. Bleek’s relationship with each woman is shallow. He chastises them, tells them they come second to his own interests (his career), and they remain complacent in this treatment.

Bleeck chastising Clarke, Pt. 1

Bleek chastising Clarke

This first screenshot captures a moment where Clarke surprises Bleek with a visit to his apartment. He lectures her for interrupting his practice and reminds her that he has allotted a time slot for her which she needs to respect. Clarke apologizes with sex.

Indigo vying for Bleek's attention

Indigo vying for Bleek’s attention

The next screenshot takes place moments after Bleek and Indigo have sex. He has just scoffed at her request to accompany his band and advises her she needs a lot more practice until she’s on his level as an artist. As he leaves her in bed to work on his music Lee deliberately mutes her speech and overrides her dialogue with music, explicitly demonstrating her irrelevance after she’s fulfilled her sexual obligations.

Indigo accompanies Shadow's band

Indigo accompanies Shadow’s band

By the end of the film, Clarke and Indigo continue to be dominated by the men in their lives. After her break up with Bleek, Indigo immediately begins a relationship with Shadow who promises her an opportunity to perform in exchange for her companionship. By focusing on her sexual engagements and reliance on yet another male figure, Lee seems to suggest that that she is only able to advance as an artist through objectifying her body.

Bleek and Indigo start a family

Bleek and Indigo start a family

Clarke also continues to subject herself to Bleek’s desires throughout the end of the film. Lee doesn’t give us insight into whether a family and life of domesticity is what Clarke wants- he only reveals to us those are Bleek’s ambitions. Time and time again Bleek’s desires as a male dominate the narrative and places Clarke in a position without agency.

I agree this critique fails to acknowledge that the inclusion of these plot lines may have been utilized for purposes of drama and entertainment, but I’m interested to hear what others think about this.Do you agree in my assessment that women are portrayed singularly and overdependent? Does it matter what Lee’s intentions were if it’s lost upon the viewers?