Top 10 hetero/sexist moments in Caribbean Politics REDUX: 2015 edition

Sexism refers to prejudice, stereotyping or discrimination, usually against women, on the basis of sex.

Heterosexism refers to the assumed primacy, supremacy and normalization of heterosexuality and the resulting attitudes, bias and discrimination. 

Hetero/sexism is often used to represent the extent to which heterosexism simultaneously encodes binary gender, unequal relations of gender, naturalised notions of male superiority and female inferiority as well as homophobia.  It calls attention to the interconnections between and among a binary and unequal understanding of gender, heteronormativity, misogyny and homo- and transphobia. 

Since we first published our Top 10 Sexist and Heterosexist moments in Caribbean politics there has been no end to the misogyny, rape shaming, rape jokes, homophobia and support for patriarchal privilege by both women and men in positions of state power.

Number 1

St. Vincent and the Grenadines communications official working in the Prime Minister’s office shames a rape survivor on live radio, reveals her date of birth, new legal name and passport number and suggests she is a liar. Such an egregious abuse of state power seemingly in retaliation for her testimony, at the opposition’s women’s conference, of a lifetime of physical and sexual abuse, chronic homelessness and a failed application for asylum in Canada. Her testimony is available here.

Numbers 2 and 3

via Freedom by any means:

Minster of Human Services and Social Security, Jennifer Webster recently told the women of Guyana that they needed to ‘forgive and forget’ Attorney General Anil Nandlall for his derogatory language towards a young female reporter. Nandlall was heard on tape calling the journalist a ‘thing’ and trying to convince another man to procure her for his uncle to have sex with (what the young woman might have thought or wanted was never considered by the Attorney General). Although there were multiple and sustained calls for his resignation, Nandlall received no sanction from his superiors in government and continues to hold the top post in the judiciary of Guyana. In her most recent defense of Mr. Nandlall, Minister Webster stated that- “In life, many of us do things,” and “If you are a Christian, you have to forgive and forget.

Number 4

Portia Simpson Miller’s doublespeak:

Nobody never hears the Government of Jamaica beating up gays; not one. Let me tell you something; you want to disturb, you can disturb, but this woman come here with the blood of Nanny of the Maroons and the spirit of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, and this woman is not afraid of no man, nowhere, anywhere, and I will speak the truth everywhere.

It is reported that she insisted that she would not be bullied by those who told lies about the existence of homophobia in Jamaica.

Emboldened by the PM’s words the Jamaican Coalition for a Healthy Society, using similar homophobic doublespeak, has issued a statement rejecting “attempts to restrict or stigmatise social discrimination against unwholesome behaviours. We reject efforts to encourage or legitimise behaviours that are high risk for HIV/AIDS and other STDs. Behaviours that are socially dysfunctional and have a demonstrably high statistical association with diseases cannot be endorsed.”

Number 5

Trinidad and Tobago parliamentarian Vernella Toppin-Alleyne seeks to shame opposition leader Dr. Keith Rowley by calling him a product of rape who is now arrogant and aggressive as a result.

Let’s hope we make it to December without cause to complete this list! Leave us a comment if there are any other incidents we neglected to mention. 

Diary of a mothering worker. February 10, 2015.

redforgender:

“Being experts in crossings is what Caribbean people do. It’s how we learned to exist. We have crossed waters, crossed authorities, crossed junctions and junctures, and crossed everything from spiritualities to pleasures.”

Originally posted on grrlscene:

Post 180.

Zi is at the left of the photo, last in the line Zi is at the left of the photo, last in the line (Photo: Roba Ofili)

Two hours waiting. Two minutes of playing mas. Thus went four year-old Ziya’s first time crossing the big stage.

Practice starts from young, which is clearly how committed masqueraders develop patience with long waits, and know to make the most of their few moments to put their all into display.

In a spectrum of stunning costumes, like inhabitants of a surreal alter-dimension, dozens of children somehow managed the heat, and began such early socialization to a ritual that determines the ultimate success of local music, shapes national conversation about selfhood and freedom, and establishes the most revered secular space in the country.

For us to be visible, to be seen like this, is to exist, writes scholar Gordon Rohlehr. That’s why the crescendo of the stage continues to rule the rhythm of the…

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Gender-based Violence at Mona: #SpeakUpUWI

Originally posted on Active Voice:

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The University of the West Indies’ repeated claims that it was clueless about the level of gender-based violence (GBV), or any violence on its campus for that matter, because it “cannot admit to a phenomenon that is not supported by data collected by UWI” are damaging the institution. They are an embarrassment because they lead to the inevitable conclusion that there are fundamental problems with UWI’S methods of data collection. Either that or the methods are designed to evade collection of data that would indicate beyond any shadow of a doubt the enormity of the problem.

Because of course the University’s claims that GBV is not a major issue at the university flies in the face of the experience of students who have to live and work on its campus. For the first time in a long time students mobilized social media to make their views known using the hashtag…

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Sexual Harrassment and UWI: Can we talk?

Originally posted on Active Voice:

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Everyone agrees that in order to deal with a problem you first have to acknowledge it exists. I thought of this when listening to Camille Bell-Hutchinson, University Registrar, energetically refuting the charge that gender-based violence is out of control on the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies. Today the Letter of the Day in the Daily Gleaner is from the University’s Director of Marketing, Recruitment & Communications, Carroll Edwards. Like the Registrar she denies allegations of rampant attacks on campus women made in a Sunday Gleaner article dated February 1, 2015, ‘Halls of horror: gender-based attacks haunt UWI, Mona’.

The denials come in response to a study cited in that article quoting Taitu Heron, currently National Programme Coordinator at UN Women Jamaica, who chronicled some of the reported cases of violence against women on the campus in her 2013 study Whose Business Is It? Violence Against Women…

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Diary of a mothering worker. January 27, 2015.

Originally posted on grrlscene:

Post 178.

Watching her Gayelle family celebrate and remember Marcia Henville, I couldn’t shake disbelief that domestic violence could have caused her death.  The loss of such an irrepressible woman left horror hovering behind the love and courage being shared from Gayelle’s studio to our living rooms.

Feeling what Sunity Maharaj rightly called ‘grief upon outrage’ pressing heavily on my heart, I remembered that providing a sense of connection was always the genius of Gayelle and its hosts. Even at home, you could feel you were there with them, close, personal and on set with their emotions, their aspirations and their community.

But it wasn’t just Gayelle who made television we own, it was Marcia, a woman who seemed to know no boundaries, who walked unarmed where police feared to tread, who asked questions to make a politician cringe, and who made her own television brand one that was unapologetically…

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Why are women and girls falling out of our HIV response?

Originally posted on One nation…many bodies…boundless faith:

Why are women and girls falling out of our HIV response?

Though the core of my career has been spent working in HIV, in recent years I’ve refocused that effort on what we call sexual citizenship, fighting to make sure people are valued and included and taken care of in our society, regardless to their sexuality. It’s what the national public knows me best for. That usually means fighting public officials and politicians to understand why gay men are as important as straight women.

But I got appointed to a regional HIV body recently. And at my first meeting in that role, I found myself in a really queer position—a bit alone fighting regional HIV advocates and officials to pay more attention to women and girls. I wasn’t really being a noble champion; a lot of it was self-interest.

If we aren’t solving HIV risk for girls, we certainly…

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