We live with such casual and everyday misogyny that public officials have to be especially crass to get called out.
Trinidadians are demanding the removal of the Mayor of Port of Spain Raymond Tim Kee after he effectively blamed pannist and Japanese national, Asami Nagakiya, for her own murder:
Before Carnival, I did make a comment about vulgarity and lewdness in conduct.
I spoke of some of the things that I see women do, assisted by men of course. But women have a responsibility to ensure they are not abused. I call it ‘abuse’. My argument was that you could enjoy Carnival without going through that routine. […] When I saw that news this morning, I know that tourists will come here and may not be aware of all the risks of doing certain things or behaving in a certain manner.
Was there any evidence of resistance? Was it alcohol-controlled and therefore (were) involuntary actions engaged in? I could well imagine (when she is identified) what will be said by the country from which she came, about one of their people coming here to participate in our Carnival and end up dead. It is not an accident from any vehicle…no truck bounced anybody. It is a matter that she was jumping up in a costume.
So, let your imagination flow.
My comment is that this is rather embarrassing for us in the City and it’s embarrassing for Carnival. I feel that many more advisories should go out to the public, especially for people (tourists) coming here who don’t really understand a lot of the culture.
The above comments were attributed to the Mayor by Trinidad and Tobago Newsday who also described Nagakiya as a “light-skinned woman — possibly an Asian tourist”. It is unclear if this racialised description is editorial or reflects the comments of Tim Kee himself.
Meanwhile in Barbados, the National HIV/AIDS Commission is hosting a Men’s Health event and since such events don’t exactly sell themselves, the promise of “body painted ladies” is offered up as attraction.
The sexism in that advertisement, the mayor’s disproved and dehumanising assumption that respectability protects women from men’s violence against us and the misogyny reflected in the fatal violence against Asami are ALL connected.
For the record, women have a right to be. We have a right to be in our bodies however we please. We have a right to be in public. We have a right to be in the streets on carnival Tuesday, bikinied, blinged out and pelting waist. We have a right to do that without fear or threat of violence. Men do not have rights to our bodies. Men do not have rights to our bodies, dressed or undressed, in private or public, light-skinned or dark, tourist or local. Men do not have rights to women’s bodies. Men’s violence is men’s violence and women are not responsible for it. Men’s desires, men’s health, men’s sexual prerogative are not some greater good for which women are to be sacrificed.
Run out the mayor and root out misogyny. Our lives depend on it.
Edited to add: The POS Mayor has issued an apology:
He agrees that his comments could have been considered out of line, but despite the anger being expressed from many quarters including feminist groups and activists, he has also received calls of support from several women agreeing with him on the lack of modesty displayed by some women and girls on the streets during the Carnival Celebrations.