Rape Culture is an environment in which rape is prevalent and in which sexual violence against women is normalised and excused in the media and popular culture.
I grew up in the Caribbean. When most people around the world think of the Caribbean, what comes to their mind is beauty, vibrancy, delicious cuisine, sun, sea, infectious music and a chilled out vibe.
While these things are true of the Caribbean and while I am forever proud to be a Caribbean woman, there is a dark and incredibly ugly side which we try our best to hide, but which needs to be lit up in great big spot lights for the world to see in all its disgraceful glory!! I am from Trinidad, so I speak specifically with reference to Trinidad BUT it is not unique to this island, by any means.
The more I read about rape culture, the more I see my homeland’s normal, everyday culture starring me in my face!
Our culture, while flamboyant, unique, beautiful, creative and infectious, is also deep rooted in misogyny. It has normalised the status of women as being second class to men. It treats disrespect, brutality, abuse and rape of girls and women as everyday petty crimes. And it needs to stop!!! Rape culture has been normalised within our psyche to the point we do not even recognise it anymore. So I wanted to take some time to introduce you to the aspects of our culture we believe to be normal, or ok, or we ting that we need to teach our next generation to cease from repeating….
This is my daughter, I want her world to be different to mine and I am sure all of you want the same for your children.
From the time our girls are old enough to wear a high school uniform (11 years, 12 in some cases) they are treated as meat. They cannot walk the streets without being harassed, cat called and told what part of their body some dutty man wants to suck.
Girls are given chores within the home, boys aren’t. Teaching boys that a woman’s place is in the home and something is wrong with a woman who wants to be independent.
Parents police the way their daughters dress but their boys are free to wear whatever they choose. This teaches their sons that girls are responsible for whatever a man chooses to do to them, based purely on what they wear.
Women are pressured into marriage and blamed when that marriage falls apart.
If she dares to leave that marriage for any reason, she is forced to go back for fear of bringing shame to the family, even in cases of severe, life threatening abuse!
Women are asked “what did you do to provoke him?” when they open up to people who they should be able to trust about the abuse they are receiving from their partners.
Boys are not held accountable. Mothers tend to defend their sons despite what they have done to hurt the women in their lives – sisters, girlfriends and wives. We repeatedly hear criminals being described as “Good Boys” in the media by their female family members.
Pregnant teens get expelled from schools but the father of the child is allowed to continue his education and faces no consequences.
We frequently use terms like skeg, slut, hoe, bad ting and other misogynistic language in our normal everyday language when describing a woman. While men are applauded for having multiple sexual partners and are even expected to do so.
Our music is notorious for lyrics that degrade and objectify women – gunman in she hole? We trivialise sexual assault (Boys will be boys, ent?!). We normalise sexual harassment and are called rude if we reject advances (ever get cuss for blanking a man who is “complimenting” you in the streets with his cat calls?) .
We constantly pound into the heads of our girls how they should protect themselves. We are told how to dress, which areas to avoid, what time to come home, how to dance, don’t be aggressive or rude, be polite and submissive, don’t ever upset or bruise the ego of a man. Girls are told to respect themselves and their bodies by not doing anything that can stimulate sexual desires in a man – as if there is anything we can do to control that! Remember, babies get raped too!
But our boys are never told not to rape!! They are not told how to behave appropriately. They are not told they should protect and respect women. They are taught women are property and object to be controlled and monitored. They are not told their penis is an object of pleasure, not a weapon. They are not told to control their sexual desires. They are not told how to handle rejection. Instead they are raised to believe the safety of a woman is her responsibility and if something happens to her, she must have done something to bring it upon herself.
Our boys are taught to be macho men! Bad man doh cry ent? Crying is for pussy hole, not so? Boys are insulted by being called female names – yuh running like a girl, doh pussy out now, yuh crying like a lil panty, man up, yuh kick that ball like a lil bitch!
Well, enough is enough!!
Boys will not be these types of boys!
Where our men at?
You calling yuh breadrin’ out when they make degrading jokes about women?
You rejecting yuh boys for abusing their wives?
You telling yuh padna he cyar lime if he want to act like a woman owe him a wine?
You calling out the bullshit you witness on a daily? In your home, in the office and on the streets?
You standing in solidarity with our women?
You have a burning desire to change the rhetoric?
You acknowledge that the onus is NOT on women to make these changes?
Are you positive role models to your sons?
Are you the type of man you would want your daughter to marry?
No? Well what de fuck you waiting for?!! You want change to come? You want your mothers, sisters, aunts, girlfriends, wives and daughters to be safe?
Well start with YOU!
This is not my Trinidad, this is not my Caribbean, this is NOT my culture!