Women’s respect a right!

speaking out

 

In a June 6 piece published in Barbados TODAY, Mr Richard Stoute expressed his disappointment at Rihanna’s Council Of Fashion Designers Of America Awards dress. It is within the rights of every Bajan –– nay, person –– to have an opinion about Rihanna’s attire at the recent awards ceremony.

Rihanna has crafted a name for herself in fashion circles for her risqué ensembles and “rock star” personality, and the custom-made Adam Selman fishnet dress, embellished with over 200,000 Swarovski crystals, lived up to her reputation. People the world over discussed her attire while the pop star lived it up in Paris with friends –– c’est la vie!

However, to read that veteran entertainer Richard Stoute measures the respect due to a woman based on the modesty of her clothing highlights one of the fundamental problems with gender dynamics in Barbados.

Women are human beings deserving of respect. Period. The respect owed to a woman, like that owed to men and children, is not dependent on clothing, behaviour, socioeconomic status, or any other criterion. In his Barbados TODAY interview, Stoute expressed concern that, had any other young lady worn Rihanna’s CFDA dress on Broad Street, things would be said and things would happen.

What would happen to her, Mr Stoute? Does a woman deserve to fall prey to the unsolicited attention and advances of men because she chooses to wear a sheer dress or miniskirt? Does she deserve to be verbally and/or physically assaulted because of it?

We spend so much time reprimanding our women for their comportment and attire and repeatedly fail to acknowledge and address their innate right to be respected by men. Further, we continue to erroneously equate “immodest” clothing with a lack of self-respect and tacitly condone this culture of misogyny in Barbados.

Enough is enough. If we are to continue to condemn our women for their public façades then, in equal measure, we should require that our men exercise self-control and respect for others. Contrary to Mr Stoute’s argument, a woman deserves to be valued and respected, regardless of how she might treat herself. It is her birthright.

Having daughters and a mother does not mean you understand, or exemplify respect for women. Respect is not conditional. Respecting me is not conditional.

–– TAMEISHA HENRY

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