Barbados signed the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1981. Do you know what CEDAW is? What rights can you defend under CEDAW? More importantly, do you know what your responsibilities for defense of your citizenship are and how to carry out those responsibilities? Come to Barbados’ third CEDAW Town Hall Meeting and discuss these and related issues: Thursday 6 March 2014 at the Steel Shed, Queen’s Park, Bridgetown at 7:30 p.m.
The members of CODE RED for Gender Justice at the UWI Cave Hill Campus have been hosting weekly women’s circles (on and off campus) from October 2013. The circles provide a safe space for women [of all sexual orientations] to have heart to heart discussions on intimate topics such as relationships, love, and family, as well as current gender issues. The members also use tools, such as the peace line activity, to encourage introspection at the circles.
Women have shared tears, laughter, fears, secrets, and love at these circles. Guided by rules to ensure everyone feels respected and receives a chance to be heard, all members that attend enjoy the moments shared in the spaces. Members have used the following words to describe the circles: “Enlightening, empowering, safe, inclusive, comforting and important.”
If you are a woman attending UWI Cave Hill Campus or residing in Barbados and would feel comfortable sharing a space with women of all different sexual orientations, we encourage you to join our circles. Contact damarlieantoine [at] gmail [dot] com, or m.hutchinson1988 [at] @gmail [dot] com to be added to the mailing list.
i crowdsourced the list below in response to Georgia Popplewell’s assertion that soca artists would
While she may have been speaking specifically of this year’s carnival tunes, there’s still a perception that soca artists don’t sing about love. Caribbean music man, Stefan Walcott, had this to say:
Well there are not many due to a space and function of the music. How many Bajan folk songs speak about snow?
Janine Mendes-Franco produced her own list of carnival love songs but it was too short a list.
Below is what my amazing facebook friends were able to come up with (thanks to Patrice & Kerryann who has an encyclopedic knowledge of soca).
Passion by Militant
All Is Yours by Onika Bostic
Dance With You by Machel and Mr. Vegas
Always Be by Patrice Roberts featuring Zan
Only You by Krosfyah featuring Tony Bailey
All Night Long by Donella Weekes
My Girl by Lil Rick
Kerryann also pointed me to other songs not available on youtube: Sweetest Thing by Coppa Dan, Sugary by Keann, Only You by Omar McQuilkin of Electrik.
The ways in which love and romance are scripted can often appear contrary to feminist ideals. I had to exclude one of the suggestions due to its homophobic lyrics. So after you’ve grooved to this playlist you may also want to check out Creative Commess’ feminist soca playlist which got a well-deserved shout out on Global Voices.
Caribbean music is all-occasions music. Enjoy!
Travel across the islands and territories of the Caribbean and its diaspora and sample some of the best feminist blogging out there.
What have Caribbean feminist women and men written about in 2013? Love, fashion, motherhood, being mixed-race, surviving child sexual abuse, healing from sexual assault, racist anti-Haitian citizenship policies in the Dominican Republic and so much more… Have a look!
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Elmer, 22 year old Belizean youth that comes from a humble yet hard working family. Today it is important for me to share my story with you.
So, when a man sets his girlfriend on fire, rapes his niece, or gouges out his ex-wife genitals, it is not simply because he cannot control his emotions or resolve conflict well. There are deeply embedded ideas about who owns and who is to be owned, who is in control and who is to be controlled, what makes a ‘real man’, and a woman’s rightful role to shape these encounters. To ignore this is to miss the mark.
Patrice Daniel is back again with more fyah! This time she writes about why the Caribbean is getting it wrong on violence against women. (Barbados)
“Can you live with knowing that you will never have answers about what happened? Is that something you can manage?”
So like my feminism, my politics of adornment are a critical part of how my race, class, gender and sexuality intersect. My feminism is about having the personal freedom to choose how I represent myself. My ability to express myself on my own terms is my attempt to return ‘the gaze,’ to push back, to style myself for myself. As I seek to own and affirmatively claim my identity, my body, my creativity… and ultimately my ‘self’, I feel incredibly powerful and beautiful and free.
Feminism, Fashion and the Politics of Adornment by Amina Doherty. (Nigeria/Antigua & Barbuda)
It’s possible to let your energy, love and time be wasted by those who are not clear what they want for you or those who are trapped in their own games. Such lost investment will only distract you from giving all to what you can most achieve in your path, your heart and your life’s work. Focus on those who most matter and know well why they do.
But it is also true that Caribbean women are not at equal risk of being made to strip, squat, bend over, finger-raped and humiliated at regional border points. We have seen little critical examination of the class and gender dimensions of this case. We might well ask whether there is an unspoken investment in gendered respectability in our rush to celebrate Shanique Myrie as a Caribbean Rosa Parks. As a not insignificant aside, consider the difference between the dominant idea of Rosa Parks we are familiar with, as the diminutive mother of the Civil Rights movement, and the Rosa Parks who was a highly active member of the NAACP and attended meetings of the Communist Party. And fewer of us have heard of Claudette Colvin, told to give up her seat on a bus nine months before Rosa Parks. We should pause to consider whether the fact that Colvin was an unmarried pregnant teenager has anything to do with her story not being widely told.
Alissa Trotz’s Inescapable Entanglements: Notes on Caribbean Feminist Engagement delivered at the 20th anniversary conference of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies. (Guyana)
In her pain, she was not allowed to belong anywhere. How could she belong when the halves of her were at war? When she was attacked by both sides? It is one thing to be condemned to a particular side because of your skin colour, but it is an entirely different thing to be a refugee in your own country because you do not truly belong to any side.
Sarah Bharrat of Guyana writes about what she calls “The Dougla Defect“, being mixed race in a racially polarised society. (Guyana)
“You said I remind you of the best parts of home. Like a lot of guys, you want to be nurtured but can’t nurture anyone because you barely know how.”
Writing about love from Creative Commess (Trinidad & Tobago)
“Growing up in Barbados, getting pregnant was the worst thing you could do. Not just as a teenager, but anytime before you had secured your place as a DoctorLawyerBankmanager. I’m serious. The Worst Thing.”
Similar to the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas also deports Haitian migrants regularly and grants very few work permits and rarely (if ever) asylum status, while depending upon the everyday labour of Haitian undocumented migrants. The Bahamas — somewhat like the DR’s new ruling — also denies rights to the children of migrants, the difference being that children of migrants do have access to birth citizenship rights, which they have to apply for at 18. However, this process can take years, especially if one does not have access to legal assistance.
Happy New Year!
Leave us a comment with your fav feminist blogs! Let’s grow this list!
See also “Top 10 Must-read Caribbean Feminist Blog posts“, “Caribbean Digital Feminist Activism in a Post-Feminist Age“, “Social Media Strategies for Caribbean Activists“, and “We’re excited about Online Caribbean Feminist Media.”
Daily, I feel helplessness, anger, frustration and fear that maybe I am the only one that knows this company understands women as plantation owners understood coolies, as bodies to use and control, and persons to disrespect and dismiss, because it’s good for profits. — Gabrielle Hosein
There was a time when feminists, from the Caribbean and beyond, picketed beauty contests. They protested the sexualisation and objectification of women, the reduction of women’s worth to their physical attractiveness, the narrow, ageist, heterosexist and racialised standards of attractiveness.
That time has come and gone.
But as with all things of merit, a throwback is sometimes essential.
Can we talk about the economics and (gender) politics of aesthetic and sexualised labour– of entering a competition to be crowned the calendar girl of a local beer? The fitness regime, diet, clothing, hair and other services needed to put your best face and crotch forward do not come cheap. But hey, regardless of what kind of work we do we all make some personal investments in our future, right?
But shouldn’t we question the trade-offs and the pay off? Is modeling a swimsuit that is not really a swimsuit worth a shot at the prize money? Is modelling a swimsuit that is not really a swimsuit worth explicit photos of you living on forever on the internet and out of your control? Isn’t it just as feminist to acknowledge that women make choices to participate in these competitions as it is to question the context and conditions that make such choices not only possible but seem like positive career options?
If we think of promotions work as work, and it is work, what responsibility do employers have to the (usually) young women that they employ and dress in very little while making tolerance of sexual harassment part of the job? What are their ethical responsibilities in requiring such aesthetic and sexualised labour from young women?
Recently I learnt a lot about aesthetic and sexualised labour from a young woman with first-hand experience. She outlined how recruiters sought out college/university students for this work, using education as a proxy for class. She argued that they produced a working environment filled with sexual harassment, no pay for overtime hours worked and a low hourly rate. When asked why students took those jobs she mentioned that some used the money to pay fees or buy books and that as a marketing student she was hoping for some experience in the field. She also repeated a familiar tale of the racialised and class-based segregation of the market for “promotions girls.” Tall, slim, light-skinned, long weave-wearing late-teens- to- early-twenties women were preferred for “upscale” events. Alcoholic beverages thought to have a wider consumer base among working-class black Caribbean men opted for “promo girls” with larger breasts and behinds. Whether upscale or lowdown the skimpy dress code remained the same so too did the expectation that workers flirt with customers. At some events, a is bodyguard hired to “protect” the young women at work, though even being touched by or dancing with male patrons is not outside of the expectations of the job.
There are standards for sex work that seek to ensure a safe working environment and protections of workers’ rights. When young women aren’t even sure that the work in which they are engaged is sex work how can they negotiate effectively or even claim ownership of their image and determine how sexually explicit photographs are distributed?
Daily, I feel sick that the men and women at Carib Brewery put their minds and their money to so deliberately put down capable, hardworking and flourishing women and girls who only ask for an equal chance to aspire and achieve. Daily, I turn the blame inward, against myself, for trying to get us home amidst the afternoon traffic, like everyone else, rather than destroying those signs however I can because my baby girl deserves more than these people with power will allow her. Daily, I feel helplessness, anger, frustration and fear that maybe I am the only one that knows this company understands women as plantation owners understood coolies, as bodies to use and control, and persons to disrespect and dismiss, because it’s good for profits.
I want to end with Gabrielle’s words of the helplessness, anger and frustration you feel as women’s bodies are used by corporations with our complicity and at great cost to ensuring that our societies recognise women as the complex, human beings that we are; and not as faceless “brown tings“ to be exploited for alcohol sales.