The Guild of Students of the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad have started a series of public discussions called Caribbean Reasonings. From the looks of things on facebook the student body seems very eager and engaged. It really warms the heart to see the Guild of Students take such initiative to contribute to the intellectual community on campus. I really love that the series is called Caribbean Reasonings as it echoes the book and seminar series of the same name coming out of the Centre for Caribbean Thought based at UWI, Mona Jamaica. These Caribbean Reasonings highlight the contributions and social and political thought of some of the Caribbean’s finest minds and encourage a younger generation of scholars to engage with their ideas.
I first came across Guild of Students take on Caribbean Reasonings when the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation questioned the use of theme “Iz a Bulla” to advertise a “reasoning” to discuss homosexuality. Bulla is a derogatory term for a homosexual man though some gay Caribbean men themselves have reclaimed the term. Of course the theme “Iz a Bulla” is meant to be deliberately provocative in order to get the student body out in their numbers. But at the same it is also offensive as it uses a term meant to shame and denigrate homosexual men, discipline all men to heterosexual and patriarchal masculinity; and completely erases women who have sex with women.
Women’s sexuality will, in fact, be dealt with this week. From the facebook page for the event :
This is the first edition of the new Caribbean Reasonings series where we analyse the views of a “bad ting” which is an insightful look into the views and attitutudes towards female sexuality and women in general.
The poster features a pair of what looks like Victoria’s Secret underwear which while meant for an adult. look like little girls’ underwear and the words “free public access”. My initial reaction was that while they needed to be provocative in order to get students to turn out, they had stooped a little too low in their advertising. I found it irresponsible and offensive.
Then today a friend messaged me to say that an 80 year-old woman had been raped and killed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Just this month in Barbados an 83-year old stroke survivor was also raped. Police arrested and charged a man who only last year had been released from prison after serving a three-year sentence for raping another elderly woman. So perhaps the poster does a good job of summing up dominant attitudes towards female sexuality in the Caribbean: free public access or the complete denial of bodily integrity whether one is a child, a teen or an eighty year-old woman.