Oh no, Edwin!

I trust that all of you were not too badly affected by the passing of Harvey and that those of you who were impacted make a full and speedy rebound. There are a few issues which I want to place before you this week. The first has to do with the way that trees were trimmed across the island, I assume, in preparation for the hurricane season.

I am sure that there is a specialist vested in the Ministry of Agriculture who overseas this as a holistic process, but to my untrained eyes, it seems as though trees were simply ‘butchered’.  It would be nice to receive reassurance from the relevant authorities that this yearly exercise is not seriously and adversely affecting our mature tree stock.

Additionally, it would be hearty to get an update about the fruit tree stock across the island and its viability.  I’ve been having a hard time with my paw-paw trees over the last few years and there are also some challenges with cherry. Since the last drive to plant fruit trees which occurred when I was a child, I do not remember such an initiative engaging the attention of authorities.  Where are we as of 2017?

The other two issues I want to deal with were even more sobering, related and unrelated events. Both were drawn to my attention in my capacity as the public relations officer of the National Organization of Women (NOW).  The first had to do with a statement put out on the Facebook page of veteran entertainer, Edwin Yearwood.  The second was the reported rise in sexual assault and abuse in and around party and liming scenes in Barbados.

The instances seemed to be facilitated by the use of date rape and other forms of drugs being slipped to victims. Let us start with Edwin’s statement first and make our way to what women are now facing as they try to party and enjoy themselves. I start by stating that I am in full belief that Edwin’s post came from a place of genuine concern and support for women.  I too have used this space on occasion to implore my sisters to make better choices regarding their bodies, regarding their parental choices and other life decisions.

What I have never done is to suggest that abuse and violence against women are conditioned upon how good women are at making life choices.  I have never done that because there is no evidence to support that abuse of or violence against women is correlated to how much a woman respects herself or how good she is at making her life choices.

We know that women living in Muslim countries are subject to rape. We know that judges and women of all professions experience sexual, financial and other forms of gender-based violence.  So while I accept that Edwin Yearwood can be a powerful figure in the fight against abuse of women and girls, it saddens me to find his post rooted in so much misinformation.

Edwin noted in his post that no man was going to marry the woman who went into a dance and participated in ‘head dances or skin out behaviour’.  What Edwin stopped short of telling us is why men marry the epitome of ‘the good girl’ and then feel they have a right to continue their sexual escapes, sometimes with the same ‘head dances and skin out girls’, thereby exposing their ‘good girl’ to years of emotional abuse which results from infidelity.

It is our construction of ‘these women’ who are our mothers, wives and daughters and ‘those women’ who we solicit sexual fantasies such as skin outs and anal sex from, which assists in keeping dangerous and problematic patriarchal privilege alive.  Every woman is entitled to take a dance to ease her mind in the same way men lime and ‘drink a rum’.  This is not a sign of whether a woman respects herself or not – it is simply a human engaging in human behaviour. When men engage in their means of relaxation, nobody says they should respect themselves or justify their behaviour as an antecedent for sexual assault or robbery.

Edwin unfortunately puts the onus on women to find mechanisms to handle verbal abuse as they pass the roadway.  Men do not have the right to shout sexual advances at complete strangers as they go about their business.  This reinforces the belief that men are primal creatures who have no responsibility for or ability to control their behaviour.  This is far from the truth.  It is far from acceptable.

Edwin informs women that being ‘strong and educated’ will provide them with iron clad defenses against abuse.  I wish I could share with you, Edwin, the numerous times that I was verbally abused as a woman ‘who feel I got two certificates and can’t notice a man cause I am a (insert any demeaning profanity here)’. Many men who perpetuate violence against women perceive ‘strong and educated’ women as especially egregious to their egos.  Such men go after these women in the worst ways because they are seen as women who do not know their places and really need physical or sexual punishment to ‘bring them back in line’.

We now come to the issue of the manipulation of women in and around party scenes in Barbados, using the date rape drug or other drugs as enablers.  The men who are comfortable to assist and carry out such acts have no regard for if their victim is a respectable woman or girl. The perpetrator spares no thought about his victim as the girlfriend or wife, sister or friend of anybody.  These men are informed by their low emotional intelligence and the established patriarchy which makes them feel entitled to a woman’s body – with or without her consent, whether she is a willing participant or akin to a lifeless log.

Such a man cares not if a woman comes to the club in a long sleeve shirt and a floor reaching pair of baggy pants.  In fact, a man who is comfortable to use drugs to lure a woman at a party scene, may have no difficulty also using the said method if a nun had invited him to a meeting at church, and happened to leave her glass of water unattended in his presence.

Violence against women is caused by one factor, and one alone.  It is caused simply because women are women.  It is caused because we have taught men that the burden of support and care of women is only women’s work. That men are superior sex-driven primal beings who need sex anytime, anywhere and by any means and are entitled to it.  We have taught men that once they have money or positions, they are to be used in the manipulation of women for pleasure.

Edwin, you are a valuable asset in the fight against violence perpetrated on women and girls in Barbados.  However, you cannot take your true place at the table if your views are clouded in misinformation.  I am willing to have a discussion or discussions with you regarding the issues. I am willing to do this for anybody willing to fight for women and girls but not seized of the correct information. We can find a partnership which enables such men to sit in on a gender course or to be invited to training sessions.

Edwin, I have responded to you with all the love and goodwill which I think your initial post embodied.  Please step forward, my brother, and continue the good work which you tried to start.

One Response to Oh no, Edwin!

  1. Annis Sobers
    Annis Sobers August 27, 2017 at 5:13 am

    Well said.


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