A Slutwalk in the Caribbean?

“I want to ask our young women, in particular to dress themselves properly. I know that sometimes, their mode of dress is not good at all and it is important that they dress themselves and do not give temptation to our men,” said Miguel, who is also Minister of Education, during the Budget Debate.

“I know that many a times, they do this but our men can sometimes pull them up a bit and say ‘No’. They have all their mammary glands (breasts) outside — some of them — and they need to know there are two good reasons why we were given these glands.

Source: Dress Properly, Don’t tempt men – Deputy PM

St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Deputy PM tells women to dress properly and not tempt men. She says that women’s breasts are intended to feed children and comfort their husbands. This hetero/sexist drivel was offered in response to the high level of violence against women and girls and femicides in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

One person left this comment on CODE RED’s facebook page:

It’s pretty ignorant. Revealing clothes do not cause murder or any other crime. She’s reaching for an easy conclusion and it’s the wrong one. She should be ashamed of herself and the government should be embarassed.

Not only are her comments ignorant, they are particularly dangerous in the context of such high levels of violence against women and murders of women. She is actually saying that women’s bodies do not belong to themselves, that they belong to men, and conflating women with mothers, that women’s bodies are to be in service of motherhood. Its the same kind of hetero/sexism that is at the root of the kind of violence against women you see in SVG. The respectability discourse, that the human rights of women, should only be protected, if women are “respectable” subjects is absolute sexist drivel. For the millionth time, clothing does not invite nor excuse violence against women.

What the Deputy PM is saying about men is also troubling. By arguing that women’s clothing tempts men into violence she is painting men as naturally inclined toward sexual violence and with no control over their own sexuality. But in the same breath she sets men up as “protectors” of women by asking them to pull women aside and tell them when they are dressing inappropriately!!! In the Caribbean street harassment of women by men is a daily nuisance. Her comments invite more of the same.

It is understandable just how frustrating it is to witness such everyday violence against women and to feel powerless to change it. But seeking to discipline women and our bodies is not the answer. Neither is positioning men as simultaneously naturally violent and as potential protectors of women.

in 1985 in SVG schoolgirls took to the streets of Kingstown in protest against violence against women and girls. They understood that they had a right to life and a right to a good life and used their very bodies to insist that their rights be respected. How is it that schoolgirls in 1985 understood what the Deputy PM in 2012 does not seem to understand?

Do we need a Caribbean slutwalk?

Mothers and Mothering in a Global Context: Call for Papers

Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI) and the Institute for Gender and Development Studies:The Nita Barrow Unit, University of the West Indies are hosting an international conference on:

MOTHERS AND MOTHERING IN A GLOBAL CONTEXT  

February 24-25th, 2012, Christ Church, Barbados

STILL ACCEPTING ABSTRACTS!

Due to several last minute cancellations, MIRCI is accepting abstracts for our February Barbados conference until February 1 2012. Please send 250 word abstract and 50 word bio to aoreilly@yorku.ca as soon as possible and no later than Feb 1, 2012 

This conference explores motherhood and mothering in a global context by highlighting the commonality and also the diversity in how mothers care for children and others across, and beyond, borders and cultures. We welcome submissions from researchers, students, activists, community workers, artists and writers and papers that explore the meaning and experience of motherhood in a global context from a all academic disciplines including but not limited to motherhood studies, anthropology, history, literature, popular culture, women’s studies, sociology, and that consider the theme across a wide range of maternal identities including racial, ethnic, regional, religious, national, social, cultural, political, and sexual. Cross-cultural perspectives on the subject matter are particularly welcome.

** TO SUBMIT AN ABSTRACT FOR THIS CONFERENCE, ONE MUST BE A MEMBER OF MIRCI

http://www.motherhoodinitiative.org/membership.html

Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement (MIRCI)

140 Holland St. West, PO Box 13022

Bradford, ON, L3Z 2Y5 (tel) 905-775-5215

http://www.motherhoodinitiative.org       info@motherhoodinitiative.org

The Good, Bad and the Ugly of Caribbean feminist, gender & sexuality news this week

Here are some of the top stories in Caribbean feminist and gender news for Jan 1-9, 2012:

The Good

Guyana to begin vaccinating girls against HPV this week!  This month is Cervical Cancer Awareness month.  What a great way to begin the month! Time for the other Caribbean countries to follow Guyana’s lead!

WIN-Belize is in the process of revitalizing its Young Women Mentorship Program and you can get involved.

Some Good, Some Bad

Dominica and The Bahamas have been ranked among the top 10 ethical destinations in the developing world for 2012. Countries were evaluated in three main categories: environmental protection, social welfare and human rights. Dominica was lauded for its renewable energy policy and for being one of the few Caribbean nations to sign a statement of LGBTQ rights at the UN in 2011. The Bahamas received kudos for its commitment to shark conservation. Both Dominica and The Bahamas were ranked highly in terms of political rights, civil liberties and press freedom. Barbados was on last year’s list, but wasn’t included in the 2012 ranking; the reason given was that the government has not shown itself to be committed to its promises of environmental protection and sustainability.

The Bad

Woman in Guyana dies after unsafe abortion even though abortion has been legal there since 1996. Former Minister of Health says that women may be uninformed about certified abortion providers.

The Ugly

JLP described PM Portia Simpson Miller’s decision to appoint three women to the Cabinet as ‘jobs for the girls’.Three woman cabinet members dismissed as illegitimate, unnecessarily costly excess baggage just because they are women, no, girls!

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CODE RED is a feminist collective of Caribbean women and men. We are the only online source for daily updates and aggregation of Caribbean news and links related to feminist, gender and sexuality issues (via our facebook page)