Girls, know your worth
This was the bold advice from 16-year-old Frederick G. Smith Secondary student Khadisha Baker, as she addressed a large group of students at the National Task Force on Crime Prevention’s Girl Talk workshop yesterday.
The youngster, one of the outspoken students from more than a dozen secondary schools, told the girls that if they really wanted to be respected, they had to start with themselves and how they allowed themselves to be valued.
Telling the students that her comments were inspired by a Dolce & Gabana ad where a scantily clad woman was being restrained by men in a clothing promotion, Baker said: “When I saw the woman being held down and the men all around her, it put me in mind to the songs we listen to, like Vybz Kartel, Movado, Jay Z, even some of the calypso songs that always bad talk and put down women.
“Some of these same songs we get up and say, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah man’. I am trying to tell you before you start to dance and wuk up and pelt bout you should listen to the words of those songs and how bad it is speaking of you as individuals, you as females.
“Think of how much of an insult it is because I am sure if someone said, you are an idiot, you ain’t gine stand there and say, ‘yeah, ise a idiot’. So you shouldn’t go back and sing those same songs that speak so badly of you. They speak of women being fruit loops and messing up all de foods we like to eat. You are more than a fruit loop. That is something people take between their teeth and grind and mash up,” she said, as some of her colleagues laughed.
Baker’s comments had come shortly after a presentation by lecturer in the Institute of Gender and Development Studies at the Cave Hill Campus, Dr. Halimah DeShong on Gender: A Glance at Femininity.
She told the girls that there was unequal power relations between men and women and the work that they did and what they were paid for that work.
A study done in the late 70s to early 80s found that women in the Caribbean had to be both provider and homemaker, and some of those women noted how difficult it was to do both jobs, she stated.
Even when the woman worked outside the home, when she came home, she was still expected to be the sole homemaker, whether or not there was a male present, she added.
As such, she explained that over the history of women, in the Caribbean as well as elsewhere, there was a certain value placed on work done for pay versus work done in the home. And thus, in this way as well, women were also considered of less value, when compared to men.
Consultant with the task force, Modupe Sodeyi commented that despite being a research organisation, they were also one of intervention.
“With workshops like these … we want to use these interventions to provide the right information that these young women need. You find things like gender, understanding their roles as female and what it means to be female, how are they socialised, especially in these times, how the socialisaiton might lead to delinquent behaviour, how some might become perpetrators and victims of crime and why some women are destined to become victims of crime based on the activities they become involved in.”
She said there were programmes in the school, but workshops like this also give the necessary feedback as well to deal with some of the areas they tackle. (LB)