Archive for the ‘consent’ Category

Conversations – Repost

A few years ago, I heard about a man who had been stuck in an elevator in Manhattan for five days because he refused to call for help. He was an undocumented worker who chose to stay in a dark, dangling and dangerous elevator rather than use the emergency call button. It he very well could have died in that elevator, and it appeared that he was willing to die before being sent back. That story has stayed with me over the years.

It was on my mind recently when I spent a much longer time than I wanted to discussing cases of human trafficking that have been in the local media in the past year with a dear cousin who is chronically concerned about my feminist ways.

She rolled her eyes as I shared the stories of young women and girls lured with promises, flattery, gifts and glamorous lifestyles. I explained that these women are fed fantasies of the extreme and non-stop partying that they can be a part of if they come to Antigua to dance at a bar or restaurant.

What do they expect?”

“I would never leave my country under those circumstances.”

“They are already whores where they come from.”

When they get here, these women are in instant debt. The plane ticket that was once free, now costs $3,000. Rent must be paid for meagre shared accommodations at $500/week. Food must be bought from the club at $80/day. Clothing and shoes too, at $350/outfit. All owed to the club that brought them here.

The parties are indeed non-stop but you are the entertainment, you need to make money to pay your debts and of course you want to have some money for yourself. The going rate of $50 for a dance and $300-$500 for sex can only go so far. Additionally, your passport is confiscated by your no-longer-gracious host, so even if one of these women wanted to leave, where can you go in this strange new country?

”Well, I would never give anyone my passport.”

”I told you they are whores; they are accustomed to that.”

”How could anyone be that stupid?”

My mind goes back to the man in the elevator. Like him, these women often live in horrendous situations that lead them to make desperate and risky choices. Add someone who is able and willing to exploit that desperation and you have the perfect scenario for human trafficking- modern day slavery.

Are you still trying to convince me that they don’t know what they really come here for?”

Quite honestly, I don’t care.Whether or not she anticipates that she will be a sex worker when she gets here is of little consequence to the greater issue: that she is being deprived of choice, denied of freedom of movement, and criminally exploited in general. Like I said,modern day slavery. To over look this because we’re uneasy about sex work is pretty ridiculous to me.

I left that conversation feeling misunderstood and judged. I shudder to think about what is must be like to be a woman trying to escape a trafficking situation, who can she speak to that will understand? How long will she remain dangling dangerously in her own proverbial elevator?

fyah fridays- occupying space

one billion risingAre you rising on the 14th February? I will be. So will many around the world. Much of my writing, reading and some of my working has been around raising awareness around sexual violence. 1 Billion is a large number, find a rising near you…. learn the dance (debbie allen’s teaching) or create your own but make that day and the days to come one/ones in which you rise against sexual violence. Big up to igds at Cave Hill in Barbados.

Speaking of taking over spaces. Qui Dorian says take over yoga studios this year! I’m all for it… well I would be if it
yoga matdidn’t cost so much. That’s why I’m uber thankful for Brown Girl’s yoga for making a space that feels comfortable and accessible for people who look like me to practice.  I can’t do headstands, I’m not dreaming that far ahead… and the thought of one day being able to do the crow pose makes me simultaneously giddy and frustrated… but I do believe the practice helps me. I pay attention to my body, and for 20-60 minutes there’s nothing else to do but be with me. It for me has been a gift.


I was raped t shirtNnzinga Job’s TEDx Port of Spain talk on Love, rape and sex
.  She talks as a survivor, a believer and a dreamer. What stood out to me most was her sharing that her realisation that we create the meaning of sex has in our lives, once we do this it is so much easier to say no. Journal people, our, all our journeys are worth documenting. Towards the end she shares tips for a healthy sex life. I was going to list my favourite but I actually love them all: 

#2 take the time to know what you like and dislike sexually and why

#3 have sex only to celebrate and commemorate never to forget

#4 get physically fit and flexible and practice sexual expressiveness through dance

#5 save money into a sex fund

Completely off topic but had my cracking up. Artists who need to stop making crappy music. I disagree with Erykah making the list. I loved New microphoneAmerkyah Volume 2. But everyone else, so feeling their place on the list plus I think it’s hilarious that Alicia Keys isn’t on the list b/c we have to accept her albums have never really cut it to start with. lol

black power booksClosing off, 100 books by black women everyone should read. I’ve read about a third of them; and it’s not nearly as straight and African-American as I thought it would be. Shout out to all the queer, African and Caribbean (and their intersections) authors on the list. Check it out- Nalo Hopkinson, audre lorde, Jamaica Kincaid, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Stacey Ann Chinn, Octavia Butler, Shirley Chisolm…. come one, you know you’re intrigued.

soca sistah soljahs

soca partyHow I’ll make it through what is now my 2nd missed carnival- which further cements the fact that there will be many many more that I will miss- I. Do. Not. Know. That’s pretty dramatic. I know I’ll be just fine. In the meantime I’ll try to get the most out of Toronto by going to a soca fete or two. I started just the other day and had a wonderful time. It has for me however highlighted the importance of doing to fetes with the right kind of people.

I *love* parties. Few would suspect this. But give me a party where the music is so loud that dancing is the only way to interact with the people around me and I’m the happiest I can be… That said, it have many people who I don’t like to party with. The expression, yuh doan bring sand to de beach comes to mind. That hasn’t been a big issue for me in the past but there are definitely benefits to going unattached.* But what I can’t handle are the lackluster party people. So speaking specifically to my soca heads, I want to party with you only if you meet what I now deem the criteria of a soca sistah soljah** . Are you a soca sistah soljah? If so you should be…

  1. practising your wine in the mirror at least weekly***
  2. able to handle wining at least at a 45 degree angle, with aspirations of 6:30… no matter how unrealistic***
  3. willing to wine on random men
  4. willing and able to stop random men from wining on you
  5. willing and able to stop random men from wining on your friend who has having difficulty with [4]
  6. willing and able to get close to the stage/ front of the crowd if your or your friend so desires
  7. greeting at least one person in the party with a wine
  8. holding your head and wining at least three times in the party
  9. at the party significantly past last call with no visible decrease in vibe or stamina

*that said, the heterosexist world in which we lives definitely affords privilge to having a fella in your crew- musings to follow

**no reference to Sister Soljah of whom I’m not a fan

*** source- pieces2peace, the original soca sistah soljah!

**** so I was going to put a picture of myself up but I said that might incriminate too many people. But I will go on the record that saying unlike these womyn in the picture it’s *very* race you’ll see any man wining on me and touching me so much. I don’t mind a wine but why’s your hand on my thigh, waist, shoulder, black… yeah. 🙂

justice, rape and sexual violence

Trigger warning: This article or section, or pages it links to, contain information about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.

Disclaimer

  • I have written about rape and sexual violence.
  • I have read a lot about rape and sexual violence.
  • I have thought a lot about rape and sexual violence.
  • I support a lot of initiatives regionally that deal with rape and sexual violence.
  • I have said no and it’s been ignored.
  • I have said no and it’s been accepted with grace.
  • I have said no and it’s been accepted and I’ve been made to feel shitty about it.
  • My politics are unapologetically feminist. I think rape is violent and often inextricably linked to masculinist notions of power and entitlement. Victims and survivors of rape (who are predominantly women) are never to blame.
  • I believe that regret regarding a sexual encounter and not wanting it to happen at the time (regardless of whether it is conveyed in ways a partner thinks are “strong enough”) are two very different things. The first indicates a conscious decision to have sex at the time, the second does not.

Today however, my reaction to hearing of a case (of which I know no details) where a man was sentenced to ten years for rape threw me for a loop. I was genuinely shocked at the length of the sentence. Well firstly, I was surprised that the case went to trial, and was successful, without it being a statutory rape case. But secondly, and almost frighteningly and shockingly, I thought: 10 years is too long.

What my reaction made me realise is that I have never really thought about punishment
and consequences surrounding rape and sexual violence. Most of my work has been on the prevention tip. With inspirations like Yes Means Yes I have more readily focused on sexuality, negotiating sexual relationships and teen romance to talk about sexual violence.

Upon further reflection though, my issue is not so much around the sentence itself, or sexual violence but my complete and utter lack of faith in the prison system. For anyone who knows me and my future this is pretty ironic. But I believe Angela Davis has the right idea, prisons need to be abolished. The length of the sentence is not a deterrent and I think in the long run it actually breeds contempt in the individual and the wider community.

Rape and sexual violence are not victim-less crimes but I think we need to think more explicitly about what we would like to see that will make things better. I believe in the possibilities of trans-formative justice. I know we’re not there yet, but I hope one day to be a part of making that shift. So regardless of a conviction, i.e. once a charge is brought, fully off the top of my head I would like to see:

for survivors of sexual violence:

  • praise for coming forward
  • counselling re:
    • (re)building intimacy and trust
    • dealing: with community backlash and negative emotions

for perpetrators of sexual violence

  • counselling re:
    • power, coercion and entitlement
    • negative emotions
  • psycho-education models re: enthusiastic consent

Longer periods in jail do not increase chances of rehabilitation. In the Caribbean as our crime rates continue to rise, and our prisons begin to fill to the brim we need to think more comprehensively about the long term effects of these measures on our communities. As a future mental health professional, I know there are possibilities, I certainly recognise the need. But without a doubt, we need to be more supportive (for the survivors) and creative (for both the survivors and the perpetrators) when it comes to justice.

Music Wednesday – Matey Edition

Matey being the opposite of Wifey. Outside or kept woman. Mistress. Part-time Lover.

Very controversial and emotional topic and I don’t think there is a person over 20 that doesn’t have a matey experience of some sort. However you feel about the issue, that discussion is for another day, today is for matey music.

Matey music is a genre all by itself. These songs are filled with emotion, reflection, turmoil and entertainment. What more can you ask for?

Here we go:

1. Tanya Stephens – It’s a Pity

I feel there is no explanation needed for this classic. Tanya deduces that when society becomes evolved enough she will be given permission to share this particular dude with his wifey. I dunno about all that, but love the song.

2. Whitney Houston – Saving all my love

RIP Whitney. I felt real hurt when I learned of Whitney’s passing. Her album You Give Good Love was the very first album I owned that wasn’t sang mostly by a cartoon character, so she has been on my playlist for over 20 years. This is a big big matey song that I only realised was a matey song only a few years ago. It speaks of the turmoil felt knowing that dude has his other life and trying to find the strength to ‘do the right thing’

3. Pussycat Dolls – Don’t cha

What can I say, I like the song. 🙂

4. Lady SawI’ve Got Your Man

Her business card promises Good Food. I love it! Interesting to note that Mama Saw lets wifey know that she intends to make dude her own man, may another promise of good food turn his eyes again? Circle of Life?

5. Tanya StephensTo the Rescue

Matey as community service. Who woulda thunk it?

I had soo much fun going through these songs. Part two will be the wifey responses, lol

Fyah Links Friday

I came across this post a few weeks ago and was smizing at it’s sincere frankness, I too am a big sister and can totally relate. The comments under the article though, you may need to take a seat, or ignore them like I always tell myself I should.

http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/you-can-get-laid-without-being-a-jerk/

 

 

Just because she is so darn cute!!

http://clutchmagonline.com/2011/10/the-muppet-who-loves-her-hair-seeks-to-change-the-world/

DC, I see you! I think that some Caribbean islands are quite veggie friendly            ( more accurately pescatarain friendly) because of the influence of  Rastafari

http://frugivoremag.com/2011/10/washington-d-c-named-the-most-veggie-friendly-city-in-america/

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