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Representing women

by Leigh-Ann Worrell


Writer Shakirah Bourne and gender rights activist Juliette Maughn

Ladies, are you a “wicked slam?”

Do you like to be “beaten like a slave” while sitting on a “jockey”, “buddy” or any other implement?

Maybe you are a “deputy”, or if really lucky, a dutiful “child mother.”

Let’s face it, whether in movies, music or other aspects of popular culture, Caribbean female sexuality has not been represented as particularly enjoyable.

Seeking a release, Eric Jerome Dickey’s latest page-turner can hardly stay on the shelves, as women across the region devour tales of strong females and their exploits between and beyond the sheets. Unfortunately, few attempts have been made to share the real-life erotic escapades, experiences and tales of triumph Caribbean women can relate to.

Enter Senseisha, the anthology.

Brainchild of writer Shakirah Bourne and gender rights activist Juliette Maughn, the collection of stories will draw on true experiences of women in the Caribbean, dealing with topics of love, intimacy, overcoming abuse and embracing sexual taboos.

“We have a double standard in the Caribbean around the perception of male versus female sexuality; it is as if we women are meant to be the gatekeepers of sexual morality. As a result, we do not consistently demonstrate autonomy over our bodies. As mothers, sisters and friends, this translates to a deficit of frank, open and non-judgmental discussions around what it means to be a sensual woman and how to have a healthy attitude towards sexuality…,” co-editor Maughn asserted in an interview via email exchange.

“We wanted to read the stories that women chat to each other behind closed doors, stories where Caribbean women aren’t afraid to describe who they are and how they feel; these are the diverse experiences and perceptions that have made us giggle, laugh, cry, curse, coo and yes, climax.”

Tired of reading “other people’s stories,” the pair decided to create a space where Caribbean women could shape their own narrative and developed the idea for the anthology earlier this year.

But, what is a Senseisha?

Maughn and Bourne provided the perfect definition: 1. a sensual Empress; 2. a woman of wisdom; and 3. a woman in control of her sensuality.

The dynamic duo brought their diverse backgrounds to bear on the creation of this unique collection of personal essays – Bourne is well versed in writing and editing, while Maughn, founder of Ev-O!-Lution has been researching Caribbean female sexuality and gender and reproductive health issues with hopes of bringing about positive change in public perceptions.

The nonfiction collection, which the editors are hoping to be available as saucy Christmas treats this year, will feature no more than 25 submissions. The call for original works was made just about two weeks ago and will close at the end of May. So far, both well-known writers and average women from Barbados, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago have been showing interest in becoming Senseishas. Since the stories are true, contributors can choose to use their real name or create a pseudonym.

“There are women who are looking for an avenue to share their stories, where they can talk freely without consequences. Conversely, there are women who welcome the opportunity to read these stories… Senseisha is [also] an addition to what can be considered as a ‘female sexual evolution’. There is a re-evaluation about how women are viewed sexually through articles, blogs and music,” Bourne noted.

While it cannot be denied that Caribbean culture is sexualised, many of its inhabitants prefer to hide in a cloak of conservatism, forcing open conversations about sex into the shadows. Senseisha’s editors are hoping to throw open those doors and encourage women to speak freely.

“We live in a culture where it is accepted for a woman to display her agility, dexterity and flexibility in the streets during Crop-Over, yet it is shameful for a woman to say “I enjoy sex”. It is these two dynamics that come into conflict… Rather than deny and demonize our natural sensuality, we have to embrace and celebrate it in a healthy way…”

Don’t expect it to be just another sexy reading romp, though.

“It is important to stress that Senseisha is not just erotica. It is not the Caribbean Fifty Shades of Gray. Yes, there will be highly sensual stories but they are just a small part of the entire collection. There is no single story for a Caribbean woman, and we want Senseisha to reflect this complexity and provide a taste of different experiences and perceptions, from the conservative to the taboo,” Maughn and Bourne revealed.

One Response to Representing women

  1. Stephanie Leitch March 14, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    I submitted just today! Looking forward to positive feedback … 🙂


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