Day 1 of our Caribbean Feminist Grounding was really (personally) transformative. Something Shifted. Something Changed. And maybe I just needed y’all to remind me *why* and to think together (creatively) through the *how’s*. Thank you sisters for re-igniting the flame! Sistrens, how we ah go mek dis movement move??!?!
I often wish I lived on a deserted island far away from people. But now, I want to live in a commune with the amazing, fiery, beautiful women of Caribbean Feminists CatchAFyah! So I’m just going to think of the Caribbean as my commune ;P Two quotes from Audre Lorde are resonating as I reflect and return to the work: “Without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression.” Also- “Revolution is not a one-time event. It is becoming always vigilant for the smallest opportunity to make a genuine change.” We are stronger, more effective together. 1 ♥
On Sisterhood Across Difference
Someone asked me what the other ladies at Catch A Fire were like. I said they were like me! Even though we are certainly very unique individuals, it was great to feel that sisterhood among us. And somewhere within ourselves, we are all feminists who have caught a fyah…
Though not necessarily individually, we were a privileged group. We were funded, had a comfortable meeting space (that was not wheelchair accessible) and among us were many a university degree. That in itself is a disconnect from large numbers of women and men our work seeks support and empower. Even those words, support and empower are problematic… Though raised, the challenge remains, how do we make it different for our next meeting? For our next project(s)? For our work? Class privilege is unwieldy dammit!
I have been in many queer positive spaces in my life. Both in the Caribbean and in North America. This was yet another one of them which was lovely. I have enjoyed straight privilege most of my life however I am mostly read as queer outside of being in a relationship with men. Many womyn in the group identified as lgbtqi and spoke to their experience. However very few (myself included) spoke to their experience of straightness. I greatly appreciated a post my another member who spoke to this silence post-meeting which so beautifully encapsulated how I feel about my own sexuality which makes me simultaneously shy away from labeling myself (b/c it’s so much more complex than any label but also want to identify/name) and speak to the privilege of straightness. (via Add Fyah And Stir. read entire post here.)
This was [an] amazing 3 days. The insights, spirits, comments and inspiration to go on is willed. The time is now, the opportunity is here. … i just cant stop talking about next step. A fyah was certainly caught in Barbados. GET F’ED UP!!!!!
Thank you SISTAS
On Inter-generational & South-South Learning
The selection of participants I believe indeed contributed greatly to the grounding. The fact that participants presented on issues and assisted with managing the group over the two days. Having Dr. Antrobus and other invited guest from DAWN and Red Thread was also inspiring and added motivation as to why my involvement was one to be proud of.
On Safe Spaces
I loved the women that attended. All so powerful, interesting, and inspiring. The opportunity and space to meet like-minded persons with an interest in changing the status quo. I also deeply appreciated the safeness of the space, I love that women could be open and honest about who they are and without fear. And the food was amazing!
On the relevance of feminism
Because we have come so far, it makes it difficult to go further.
I feel fortunate as a woman to have been born in Barbados, and live in middle-class Barbados. I have had the experience of being a Black woman in a white, North-American community and the oppression and marginalisation was so much more tangible in the latter space. Actually *feeling* marginalised made me angry, upset and inspired to fight back.
I think the privileges that some Barbadian women enjoy, especially compared to most women in the rest of the world, are both a blessing and a curse. Tremendous strides have been made for women in Barbados such that the average woman does not necessarily *feel* oppressed nor can they easily identify experiences as oppressive ones. Abortions are legal and easy to obtain. Contraception is available, affordable and generally accessible. Women outnumber men in educational spaces. I have no expectations of encountering a male when I go to visit a doctor, lawyer, accountant or other professional. As much as I loved the video, “Woman Must Cook, Wash and Mash”, it does not, in its entirety, map directly onto the reality of many of the women I know.
Sexism most definitely exists here; I would never assert that it does not. For starters, leadership positions are disproportionately occupied by men, gender-based violence is alive and well, gender-role expectations persists , sexual violence and exploitation remains and objectification via our local music and party-scene is rampant. There is also variation along socio-economic and class lines since poorer women have a far more tangible experience of marginalisation.
But because so much progress has already been made, the average Barbadian woman who is not used to unpacking the various forms of power and privilege, could (quite understandably) be surprised at a local activism for women’s rights.
I feel like I am agitating more for a shift in people’s thinking. This is far more difficult since the reality of oppression and sexism here sometimes manifests itself in such subtle ways. It is difficult to get people enraged about subtle, or even notice it. So those are the thoughts that have dominated my mind since the grounding. In a space where there has already been much reform, it’s hard to articulate to others exactly what I’m fighting for.