You know you can count on us to bring you the best in Caribbean feminist blogging! Over at The Mongoose Chronicles, Mar the Mongoose has a witty reflection on the contradictions of motherhood for black, working-class Caribbean women. Here’s an excerpt:
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. Teenage or ‘early’ pregnancy was blamed for all the ills of society, directly or indirectly. Boys are under-performing in school? Teenage pregnancy (and girls’ sexuality). Never mind that the boys’ (teenage fathers’) asses are sat in classrooms while the girls are the ones run out of school with pitchforks. The dubious problem of society losing its morals? The dubious explanation of teenage pregnancy. Drowning at Miami Beach? Teenage pregnancy. Winston Hall escaped from jail again? Teenage pregnancy. And so on. It doesn’t matter what issue is at hand. Invariably, in any meeting anywhere on the island, someone is going to raise his hand confounded that we are four minutes into the session and no one has brought up the scourge of teenage pregnancy.
None of this was lost on the generation of women now in our mid-thirties. In the Caribbean, for children of the working class, education – and I’m not talking just high school I’m talking first or advanced degree – is the handful of magic beans. You had better get it and stick with it until you can prove to people that your family is officially out of the working class. So for women, pregnancy is to be avoided at all costs even into your twenties. Of course, people get pregnant in their early twenties and are not made to wear a scarlet A, but it is hoped in general that you get your papers before you get your pickney. And then there’s the whole wedlock business. I noticed growing up that the least Christian of Caribbean people could utter the phrase ‘out of wedlock’ with the highest amount of reverence – for wedlock. The single mother business was nothing to be admired, so there’s another delay. No babies yet. Get your papers, get your husband.
Read the full article here.