Over the last 34 years, like most women, I have experienced my fair share of male harassment. I’ve had some random man try to reach under my skirt in a night club, I’ve been propositioned by two former ministers and one union leader, I’ve been victim to one too many unwanted wines and like most women I simply grinned and moved along.
I always thought us women looked for this type of harassment; it’s what we’ve been told by our leaders. According to the late Raymond Tim Kee, a former Mayor of Port-of-Spain, we women encourage sexual harassment and assault by the way we dress and behave, especially at Carnival with our bottoms all over the place.
Even our Prime Minister Keith Rowley chimed in and it became apparent that any mistreatment by men was my entire fault because clearly I didn’t choose wisely enough when it came to the males around me.
While I have, thankfully, never been a victim of an assault, sexual or physical, I constantly live in state of caution because I never know when my smart mouth or overly saucy walk will get me in trouble.
We smart mouthed, educated, free-thinking woman are always the number one candidates for licks. So I try to stay quiet and smile and nod like a Stepford wife, so I don’t upset any male within a 50-yard radius.
Yup, us women, always looking for it, it’s always our fault.
But alas it turns out I was wrong. We women aren’t to blame when it comes to being degraded and sexualized by men. Nope. The blame falls solely on Soca and Chutney Music.
Thanks to former minister of health and avid Trump supporter, Dr Fuad Khan, I now know that after all these years of harassment I have had to endure weren’t because God cursed me with a vagina.
It’s all those degrading lyrics in soca and chutney.
How could we have not realised this! To this day I feel nervous around bottles of garlic sauce and I cannot tell you how much times I’ve been told, “Aye darlin, I never eat a white meat yet!”
Ugh and Carnival is the worst, we women shouldn’t even be able to participate.
Think of how detrimental we are to all men in TT in our scantily-clad costumes, while the music instructs their feeble minds to grab, belittle and rough us up.
However, I wonder if maybe I am wrong, that Keith, Fuad, Raymond and all other mansplainers are wrong. That violence and degradation against women isn’t our fault. It’s blasphemous for me to think such, but hear me out.
Perhaps the scourge of violence and degrading attitude towards women is fuelled by archaic, misogynistic cultural beliefs and traditions that over the years our governments, community leaders and educational system have failed to address.
Beliefs that a woman is a man’s property, that if we get raped it must have been our fault by the way we dressed or behaved, that us women cannot get by without a man to provide for us, that even if our man beats the day light out of us we should stay for our children or we must have provoked him in one way or another.
Our public discourse needs to be looked at in how we talk about women. Why is it that when a man gets promoted or honored for something, we never say he got there lying on his back? Why was it a big concern when we got our first female president was why she wasn’t married and could she possibly be a lesbian?
Women this is on you to. I cannot express the rage that rolls over me when I see women degrade or bring other women down. When amnesty was granted to Venezuelan refugees, the amount of online comments from Trini women attacking these women, calling them prostitutes and homewreckers, was sickening. Seriously Janice, no one, no one is trying to steal your fat belly man!
An exceptionally brave young lady a while back shared her story of being date raped on social media; again the amount of women who blamed her for what happened or called her all kinds of names or accused her of lying was astounding.
Ladies, get a grip, we are just as much a part of the problem. If women cannot respect other women, how can we expect men to? If we cannot stand up for one another nobody else will.
This crap needs to stop. As a nation we need to uplift our women and daughters. Our politicians, religious leaders and community leaders need to do more. We need to stop blaming music, the media and carnival designers and come to terms with the fact that unless we break free from these ridiculous beliefs more women will continue to suffer.
Our men also need help. No man wakes up and thinks, “Humm today I might rap, or I don’t know beat a woman.” It’s a learnt behavior from what they hear or see, it’s from being told men don’t cry or man don’t let no woman rule him.
Listen, I could go on forever, but I have a word limit, so hear this, let’s just start respecting one another, stop judging one another, and give up this woman’s place/man’s place business. It’s time to break the cycle.
And lastly, if you know of a woman or a man who is a victim of domestic violence – STOP MINDING YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!!!! Reach out, get them help, and call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-7283.