Women under siege

I was feeling insecure,
You might not love me any more,
I was shivering inside
I was shivering inside

I was trying to catch your eyes,
Thought that you were trying to hide,
I was swallowing my pain
I was swallowing my pain.

Jealous Guy, John Lennon

What is more upsetting?  The killing or our powerlessness?  What is more disappointing?  The realization that we have to deal with five more years of a useless Minister of National Security or the fact that we get the government we deserve?
I like to say with all the surety of my mother and grandmothers and sisters and women ancestors going way back, that the man to hit me isn’t born yet and his mother is dead.
But the longer I stay in Trinidad, the more I think that maybe all women are at risk of some kind of violence and there is little we can do about it.
It’s not just that men strut about with a puffed up sense of self-importance.  It’s not just that we have a long tradition of sexual and physical violence that has always been an acceptable way of keeping women in check, in their place.
It never ceases to amaze me how acceptable it is for men to make jokes about slapping women.  So that when you see a man to slap a woman across her face on Broadway, you either do nothing or point and laugh.
It never occurred to me how dangerous it was for a mother to declare ‘when ah leggo mih cock, yuh better lock up yuh hen’ until this week when a mother and son were jointly charged with the murder of a young woman.
All those songs about the unattainable and highly desirable dulahin take on new sinister meanings when I read about young Indian women being openly threatened by black men on the streets and if I choose not to acknowledge the advances of random men on the street, clearly, I feel I white.
Meanwhile an abused woman cheats death while her estranged husband runs amok, doing a crime so gruesome you think that maybe they’re making it up.
And during the election the violence of crushing and flogging and destroying was all we could hear from these men that lead our country.
No wonder women like me who think we’re invincible, now walk the streets nervous about every step we make.  No wonder, even women like me are eating licks every day and night.  And having their spirits smashed under some two by four man’s heel so that they can fit into some socially acceptable coupledom.
The funny thing is that my bredrins feel as under siege as I do.  That to be a good man in this lack of Vision 2020 is to be an insurance policy, an easily controlled cash cow.
So I’m wondering which came first? Whose insecurities are to blame for all the violence, all the neediness, all the stalkers and the tabancas?
Who raised these men to make them think they could treat women in this way? And who is raising our women to believe that this behaviour is something they should take?
Meanwhile there are plenty of women in parliament.
And I don’t want to let down the sisterhood, but let’s see how much these women can do and whether Papa Patos hasn’t just put them there because he thinks they’re easier to manipulate and women are more willing to please.
I wonder if women really were in power in real ways if we would do the things that we really need to do.  Like really begin to address the ways that we raise our boys to be men and our girls to be women.
Who else can define what security is than those who feel the most unsafe?

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