Caribbean (and other?) Feminists Exist & Some of Them Do Not Yet Know That They Are Feminists

By Cherise Charleswell

Within the Caribbean Diaspora, feminist is still viewed as an inflammatory, divisive, and foreign bad word. Yet, a number of Caribbean women have looked beyond the many misconceptions of the term, and in looking at its most simplistic definition, which is the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, realise that they are indeed a feminist. While some Caribbean feminists find it more feasible to carry out their work without openly wearing the label or using the word feminists; as described by the Barbadian blogger at The Mongoose Chronicles

If advancing the ideology without using the F word is going to improve women’s access to economic goods, then I’m prepared to use other words.”

Finally, there are Caribbean women (and men) who share the belief of gender equality, and thus have not yet realised that they are indeed feminists.

For those of you, who may be part of this group, I offer the following to prove that you may actually be a feminist:

  • If you believe that women deserve equal pay as men, especially when considering the many households that are headed by single mothers
  • If you believe that girls have a right to education, particularly post-secondary education, which is an opportunity that our mothers, grandmothers, and ancestors did not have just a few years ago
  • If you believe that women must be allowed to have a voice and representation in the political process
  • If you expect a man to help out, and actually pick up and push a broom across the floor at home, the same way he would use his legs in the middle of a dancehall jam
  • If you believe that you should be able to go to a fete, dance and enjoy yourself without molestation, and certainly without a random stranger believing that it is perfectly acceptable for him to rub himself along your backside.
  • If you are angered by the fact that some men may believe that you are obligated to entertain their sexual advances, and even worst approach them when they yell out such comments as, “yea…di one in di red”.
  • If you believe in family planning
  • If you are proud of your liberated womanly body, which you happily adorn in the most colourful and festive carnival costumes
  • If you have a problem with paedophilia — the open courting of young girls by grown men   within the Caribbean culture
  • If you do not believe that travelling to a certain place, being seen casually drinking, or wearing a certain type of clothing can justify raping you.
  • If you are not willing to tolerate any form of intimate partner violence or abuse, despite the legacy of our foremothers who may have lived lives without many options, and thus felt compelled to endure the abuse.

By  Cherise Charleswell MPH

Originally published on the Redforgender blog site, January 8, 2014


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