A “Perfect” Baby
Review of B for Boy at SIFF by Kelsey G.
B for Boy is a powerful film about one strong woman’s struggle between staying true to herself and following her Igbo culture. Amaka is a 40-year-old Nigerian woman who is pregnant with her second child. Her first child is a daughter, so during this pregnancy there is pressure from her culture and her husband’s family to bear a son. If she does not bear a son there is the possibility that her husband will take a second wife.
During the third trimester of her pregnancy, a few days after she learns she is having a boy, the baby dies in utero and she learns she cannot conceive any more children. To add to that struggle, her husband’s brother dies, leaving her husband as the sole heir of the family name, putting even more pressure on Amaka to have a boy. As the movie continues it shows the story of how she deals with that knowledge and how much outside pressure she receives to have a boy and what it pushes her to do.
In America there is not a lot of pressure put on women to have a boy child, but in Igbo culture a son is very important. A son is important for passing down the family name and property, and without a son the family will be without an heir. This movie is a great look at how women are viewed at differently throughout the world. Amaka’s husband, Nonso, was never blamed for having produced a daughter, even though the man is technically biologically responsible for the gender of the baby. Amaka is called a witch by Nonso’s family and friends for not letting him take a second wife. She has to deal with the burden of producing an heir all on her own, knowing that the threat of having her husband take a second wife is just waiting in the shadows.
Even though this movie shows how in different cultures women are blamed for not producing a son, this movie also shows how times are changing and women are willing to stand up to the prejudices brought against them. Amaka never gives in to the pressures pushing her to let her husband marry again and stands by her values that marriage is about more than just having a son. She loves her husband and her daughter and lets everyone know that whether she has a boy or not, she will always be her husband’s only wife.
B for Boy made me think about the inequality women still face in many places in the world and how they are blamed for things that are not in their control. Amaka could not decide the gender of the baby, nor could she prevent her baby from dying in utero. So much emphasis was put on her having a boy that they did not even consider the idea of her having a girl a positive thing. In cultures where having a boy is placed above having a girl, there is definitely going to be gender inequality. I loved how this movie showed the struggles Amaka went through and it gives great insight on what women all around the world have to deal with. I would recommend this movie to anyone who wants proof on how strong women are and what they have to go through just to have the “perfect” baby.
B for Boy
Seattle International Film Festival
Screenings June 2 and 6