Well, What About The Men?

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in define feminist

Content Warning: suicide, transphobia, homophobia, sexism, abuse, mental health issues

Yesterday was International Men’s Day and I wanted to write a post addressing men’s issues but not in the way that you think. As someone who has called herself a feminist for years and been in many “arguments” about feminist issues, one of the common derailments to women discussing the social issues that affect them is, “What about the men?!”

So what about men?

Why are women responsible for solving all the social issues that affect their lives as well as the social issues that impact men as well? The truth of the matter is, men who derail with this kind of statement don’t actually care about the social issues affecting men. It’s simply an affront to them that women would dare question the status quo or would dare defy the existing social hierarchy in any way. It’s the weak attack of a threatened animal but luckily for you, there are ways to disarm this…

[[Before you read onwards… I encourage you to read ALL the posts linked in this blog post. Most of them I link for a reason and I want you to check them out to further your learning. — MGMT]]

West Indian Religious Conservatism & Pro-Fascist Leanings

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in black feminism

Christianity and conservatism are diametrically opposed to each other. Yet, by asserting the word “God”, conservatives and their ilk twist the language of the Bible to suit their need to brainwash the population into supporting their definitively un-Christian agenda of discrimination, domination over people and natural resources and large-scale abuse of human rights. Fundamentalism has become acceptable; with the acceptance of fundamentalism comes a normalized absence of empathy and ethics in favor of dogma. The goals of the American right have infiltrated the minds of people throughout the Caribbean. This threatens our way of life as well as our proclaimed values of integrity, compassion and love.

The “Benevolent” Sexist Man, How To Spot Him And How To Defeat Him

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In the age of viral video feminism and in a world where (some) explicit acts of misogyny are not socially acceptable anymore, misogynistic men have had to adapt. They must adapt to shield themselves from any criticism, to preserve their fragile sense of self-importance and to gain a one-up on the women around them without getting the unfortunate label of “sexist” or “misogynist” slapped on them. As expected, their tactics are crude and it’s not too difficult to see that although misogyny might wear a different disguise, it’s still the same old BS. Put a dress on a pig and it’s still a pig.

If you’re a woman (especially a feminist), you’ve encountered these men and you might find yourself confused, frustrated and generally questioning yourself. Here I’m going to teach you a few ways you can spot these “benevolent” misogynists and how you can defeat them, keeping your self-assuredness in your experiences as a woman in tact. It’s also not surprising that many of these benevolent misogynists apply tactics of emotional abusers including gas lighting and crazymaking. So learning their modus operandi is important to keep yourself safe psychologically (and possibly physically).

Remember, your experiences as a woman are valid. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone who would deny sexism in 2016, the age of Google and the Kindle Store.

Here are five things that “benevolent” misogynists do that you can use to identify them in the wild.

Misogynoir And Colonial Law Mean Girls Can Give Birth While Serving Prison Sentences And We’re All Just OK With It

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A week or two ago, I came across this headline in St. Lucian news “Teenage Inmate At Bordelais Correctional Facility gives birth”. Unexpected, jarring and indicative of a number of social issues that are worth discussing. While the trend of mainstream feminism leans towards empowerment and other buzzwords unsupported by action or empathy towards the women who suffer most, there are clear feminist issues within our culture that an article such as this one brings to light…

Intersectional Feminism: 5 Ways Class Changes Your Experience of Womanhood

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Socioeconomic class influences all of our daily routines in the Caribbean. What we do on a morning (full, balanced breakfast vs. bread and tea), how we commute from place to place (bus vs. sedan vs. luxury four wheel drive), where and how we work (cashier vs. civil servant). Socioeconomic class is not “taboo” in a country where people flaunt even the most meaningless status symbols — from Jansport backpacks to Audi’s on the verge of getting repossessed. But when it comes to women’s liberation as well as LGBT liberation, the majority of people are silent. All of a sudden, class becomes invisible when it might force you to look at a situation from a nuanced perspective.

In reality, your socioeconomic class affects everything. You can’t avoid discussing it when discussing women’s liberation or you will never succeed in true equality. Additionally, you cannot (as a wealthy person, let’s say) take a condescending role of “leadership” over the needs of all women. Being patronizing doesn’t mean you’ve all of a sudden developed a nuanced understanding of what women in poverty need. Try again.

Here are five ways that class is likely to affect your experience as a woman in the Caribbean.

Black Feminism: Menstruation Taboo

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I recently felt challenged to condense my thoughts regarding my experiences with menstruation and taboo in Caribbean society. I don’t think it’s completely necessary to frequent fliers here but I will add the disclaimer that the experience that frames my experiences and observations about menstruation in the Caribbean are the experiences of a cisgender Caribbean woman and I’m applying my knowledge of black feminism and black feminist thought to how I view the subject.

Like most things considered to be “feminine” in the Caribbean, menstruation faces heavy stigma within our culture. There is both shame and pride surrounding the first menstrual cycle. Shame is one of the first lessons that we are taught about menstruation and it’s a lesson sowed so deep that the shame becomes instinct — and therefore, goes unquestioned. This root of this shame is a socially backed feeling that during menstruation, your body is disgusting and repulsive.

Black Feminism: Anti-Blackness And The “Diaspora Wars”

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*Note: the featured image is NOT social commentary, just the best creative commons representation of an argument that I could find…*

On Twitter on a Saturday morning for five minutes and I’m already rolling my eyes. Here we go again. For those of you who don’t use social media, the “diaspora wars” refers to a regular cycle of social media arguments where West Indians, Africans and Black Americans “war” to claim which one is the best. It’s an argument that I’m not interested in at all so this post is not going to contain any argument “for” or “against” any group of black people. (Reminder, we are all black.) What I’m interested in exploring is the anti-blackness that inevitably crops up amongst ALL groups of social media users.

No matter what region in the world they’re arguing in favor of, black participants in the diaspora wars almost always rely on racial stereotypes created by white people about black people globally. i am 100% uninterested in “calling people out” but I am interested in accusing every single person who has ever engaged in this argument to closely examine what insults they turn to when they feel defensive about their current homeland.

Guest Post: DWELLING TOGETHER? HOMELAND HOMOPHOBIA HAUNTS THE DIASPORA

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by CJG Ghanny

CJG Ghanny is a nameless nobody of Indo-Caribbean heritage via Trinidad who is currently living in Boston. He is a co-founder of coolie collective, a digital space for exploring Indo-Caribbean identity through the lenses of social justice and postcolonialism. He is allergic to social media, but welcomes feedback and camaraderievia e-mail. His début novel NMQP is forthcoming, inshallah.

Carnival is this weekend in my city, and like many metropolitan Caribbean kids I’m stoked beyond belief. I’m not really a crowds person and I don’t like being drunk in public, but Carnival to me is about unity with my people, Caribbean people, bonding through shared music and culture and foodstuffs with a touch of j’ouvert oil and feathers for good measure. I’ll be linking up with my Indo-Caribbean sisters for brunch in the morning and then roll up looking my absolute cutest in red and black all over.

At the same time, I’m scared. I’m scared because I am very gay and in a relationship with a man, and I don’t know if Carnival is the space for me, or any gender non-conforming people for that matter. We hear the horror stories about genderbending folk on the Islands being chased down and strung up from trees, but surely it can’t be that bad in our liberal big city way north of the West Indies, where Carnival is a sponsored and corporate event with plenty of PD on sight, right?

Intersectional Feminism: Abuse & Feminism

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Abuse and feminism are incompatible, yet many people who call themselves feminists are also abusers. It sounds like a drastic or incorrect statement, but we know it’s true either from experience or through reading. That’s why there are articles like this one on Everyday Feminism, warning you about the types of feminist men who abuse their status as feminist allies. That’s why in activist circles, there are high status individuals who get away with bullying, coercion and other forms of abuse. We intuitively know that simply stating that you’re a feminist doesn’t change your ability to abuse people, yet many of us call ourselves feminists without reading literature on abuse, checking ourselves for these “toxic” behaviors or by practicing non-abusive forms of communication with our loved ones.  We know that this is true, but we still don’t believe victims or survivors who come forward about their experiences.

Saying The Caribbean Has No Culture Exposes Your Anti-Blackness

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Recently, there have been many discussions surrounding art and culture in the Caribbean circulating on social media as well as in my personal life. I’ve heard a number of opinions about Caribbean culture that are believed to be based on facts. Those opinions are centered around two core ideas that the opinionated person will never put as bluntly as I will:

  1. Culture in the Caribbean is “dying”. (It’s implied that we cannot resuscitate it.)
  2. The Caribbean has no culture (but it did in the old days).

Interestingly enough, the old days when we “had a culture”, according to those people, were the years spent underneath colonial rule. Ah, the good old days where only wealthy landowners could vote! I guess without the presence and control of the British/French, a huge swathe of our population feels our existence cannot be meaningful. We cannot have a culture. Nothing we do can be worthy. We must feel ashamed. At least that’s how they behave…

I’m sure you’ve encountered one or two people like this yourself…

The idea that without European or American approval our culture is invalid is an ultimately racist idea. We cannot continue to seek validation from people who have consistently denied us our humanity since we were brought to the Caribbean as chattel. Or indentured servants. Our ideas about the value of our culture need to be centered within our nations, within our majority black populations. Our mere existence is enough of a testament to our ability to overcome oppression and genocide. Our rich culture is the icing on the cake.

Another idea that we would be wise to challenge is the idea that the parts of our culture that are not consumable are also not valuable to our existence. For example, I have heard a number of people suggest that carnival is “all” we have to offer that could possibly be worthwhile. According to them, our music or art is nothing worth speaking of because it hasn’t “gone global”. The West Indians who assume that carnival is “the only thing” we have to offer are looking at culture as something that is a good to be consumed. The underlying idea supporting their statements is that if black people are not producing something that “the world” (but really, only the white part of the world) is not interesting in buying, we are unworthy. It’s a belief as old as colonization itself and it denies our people the right to define their own value and to define their self-esteem outside of the colonizer’s view.

Of course our culture is more than carnival. And that’s because culture is not only music and food. Culture is not static either; it’s dynamic and the changes we see in culture over time are not representative of cultural death. Our culture includes our customs surrounding humor and laughter. Our culture includes our bilingual capabilities and unique slang. Our culture includes our traditions surrounding birth and death. It encompasses herbal medicine and spiritual knowledge that exists outside of religion. Denying ourselves this definition of culture only sets us up to accept the way foreign countries define us as inherently true and they will never define us as equal or worthy of respect.

We need to start making changes to the colonial lens through which our peers view our culture now. We need to acknowledge that what we were taught about our supposed lack of a culture is only a lie that serves the powers that wish us to devalue ourselves and our home countries. If we feel there is nothing worthwhile, we will not be motivated to protect and conserve our natural resources or our people. We need to start telling other young people that describing the Caribbean as a place void of culture is an act of verbal violence against our people that does not serve us. We may critique the aspects of our culture that we wish to change. We may even dislike certain aspects of our culture entirely.

But despite that, it is unfair to condemn all the people who have fought for us to be independent and free to our opinion that we are too vapid to be worth fighting for. Caribbean people from every island are filled with a cultural richness that personally I have been able to find few other places. We need to find ways to acknowledge this richness in our daily lives. Our survival and our self-esteem as a region relies on how we value ourselves and we need to change our perceptions now.