Transcript: Sexual politics in Jamaica's dancehall culture | Jan 28, 2006

Carolyn Cooper stands behind a metal lectern in a university classroom, with two black chalkboards behind her. She's in her fifties, shaven-headed. She's wearing glasses, silver hoop earrings, a black and white patterned robe, and a colourful Kente cloth over her shoulder.

She says SOURFISH
IT'S SWEETER THEN MEAT, WHEN
YOU WANT TO EAT OUR SOURFISH SWEET.
FOR THE UNITIATED SOURFISH AS
USED HERE METAPHORICALLY BY THE
MIGHTY SPARROW IS FEMALE
GENITALIA.
JUST LIKE OUR MAN CAN'T LIVE
WITHOUT FLOUR, OR OUR MAN CAN'T
LIVE WITHOUT RICE...

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Carolyn Cooper. Professor, University of the West Indies. 'Sweet and sour sauce: Sexual politics in Jamaican dancehall culture.' York University. October 22, 2005."

Carolyn continues SO A MAN
CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT A WIFE,
SHABBA RANKS'S.
JAMAICAN DANCEHALL MUSIC IS
MUCH LAMENTED BOTH AT HOME AND
ABROAD AS A PRIMAL SCREAM.
A BARBARIC,
DEGENERATE, SCATOLOGICAL SOUND.
I SUPPOSE SCATOLOGICAL AS WELL.
MORE BROADLY JAMAICAN DANCEHALL
CULTURE IS COMMONLY DISPARAGED
AS A MISOGYNIST, HOMOPHOBIC,
HOMICIDAL DISCOURSE THAT
REDUCES BOTH MEN AND WOMEN TO
BARE ESSENTIALS, SKELETAL
REMAINS.
IN THIS DEHUMANIZING
CARICATURE, WOMEN ARE
MISREPRESENTED AS MINDLESS
BODIES, UNDRESSED AND ON
DISPLAY EXCLUSIVELY FOR MALE
SEX OR PLEASURE.
AND MEN ARE STEREOTYPED AS DOG-
HEARTED PREDATORS, STALKING
POTENTIAL VICTIMS.
IT IS THE ANIMAL NATURE OF BOTH
GENDERS THAT IS FOREGROUNDED.
NOW IT IS TRUE THAT SEX AND
VIOLENCE BASIC, INSTINCTS ARE
RECURRING THEMES IN THE LYRICS
OF BOTH MALE AND FEMALE DJS.
THE DANCEHALL IS ESSENTIALLY A
HETEROSEXUAL SPACE.
HETEROSEXIST EVEN, IN WHICH MEN
AND WOMEN PLAY OUT EROTICIZED
GENDER ROLES IN RITUAL DRAMAS
THAT CAN BECOME VIOLENT.
BUT SEX AND VIOLENCE HOWEVER
PRIMAL, ARE NOT THE ONLY
PREOCCUPATIONS OF JAMAICAN
DANCEHALL CULTURE.
THERE'S A POWERFUL CURRENT OF
EXPLICITLY POLITICAL LYRICS
THAT ARTICULATE THE STRUGGLE OF
THE CELEBRANTS IN THE DANCE TO
RECLAIM THEIR HUMANITY.
IN CIRCUMSTANCES OF GRAVE,
ECONOMIC HARDSHIP THAT FORCE
THE ANIMAL OUT OF HIS LAIR.
INDEED, JAMAICAN DANCEHALL
CULTURE CELEBRATES THE DANCE AS
A MODE OF THEATRICAL SELF-
DISCLOSURE, IN WHICH THE BODY
SPEAKS ELOQUENTLY OF ITS
CAPACITY TO ENDURE AND
TRANSCEND MATERIAL DEPRIVATION.
JAMAICAN DANCEHALL MUSIC IS A
SIDE OF AN ONGOING STRUGGLE
BETWEEN RESPECTABILITY AND
RIOT, PROPRIETY AND VULGARITY,
SLACKNESS AND CULTURE.
IN JAMAICAN USAGE THE ENGLISH
WORD SLACKNESS HAS ALMOST
EXCLUSIVELY SEXUAL OVERTONES,
AND IS SYNONYMOUS WITH
LICENTIOUSNESS, LIBERTINE,
LASCIVIOUS, LEWD BEHAVIOUR, TO
CITE THE LITERATIVE, OXFORD
ENGLISH DICTIONARY DEFINITION
OF LICENTIOUSNESS.
BUT THE LICENSE IN THE ENGLISH
LICENTIOUSNESS IS OFTEN
REPRESSED IN ITS JAMAICAN
EQUIVALENT, AND ONLY THE CENTIA
REMAINS.
THE DICTIONARY OF JAMAICAN
ENGLISH DOES NOT HAVE AN ENTRY
ON SLACKNESS.
BUT IT DOES DEFINE A SLACK AS
ONE QUOTE, A SLOVENLY, PERSON.
TWO, A WOMAN OF LOOSE MORALS,
UNQUOTE.
THE GENDER BIAS IS EVIDENT IN
THIS UNSETTLING SHIFT OF
MEANING FROM THE DOMAIN OF THE
LITERAL AND SUPERFICIAL, DRESS,
STROKE, APPEARANCE, TO THAT OF
THE METAPHORICAL AND
SUBSTANTIVE MORAL CONDUCT.
THE GENDER NEUTRAL SLOVENLY
PERSON BECOMES A GENDER
SPECIFIC WOMAN OF LOOSE MORALS.
SLACKNESS BECOMES ESSENTIALIZED
AS THE GENERIC CONDITION OF
IMMORAL WOMAN, NOT MAN.
WOMEN ARE SUPPOSED TO BE THE
PERENNIAL GUARDIANS OF PRIVATE
AND PUBLIC MORALITY.
MEN ARE ALLOWED TO EXTEMPORIZE.
ARGUING TRANSGRESSIVELY FOR THE
FREEDOM OF WOMEN TO CLAIM A
SELF-PLEASURING SEXUAL
IDENTITY, THAT MAY EVEN BE
EXPLICITLY HOMOEROTIC.
I PROPOSE THAT JAMAICAN
DANCEHALL CULTURE AT HOME AND
IN THE DIASPORA, IS BEST
UNDERSTOOD AS A POTENTIALLY
LIBERATING SPACE, IN WHICH
WORKING CLASS WOMEN AND THEIR
MORE, TIMID, MIDDLECLASS
SISTERS ASSERT THE FREEDOM TO
PLAY OUT EROTICIZED ROLES THAT
MAY NOT ORDINARILY BE AVAILABLE
TO THEM IN THE RIGID, SOCIAL
CONVENTIONS OF THE EVERY DAY.
THE DANCEHALL BECOMES AN
EROGENOUS ZONE, IN WHICH THE
CELEBRATION OF FEMALE SEXUALITY
AND FERTILITY IS RITUALIZED AS
MEN PLAY HOMAGE, PAY HOMAGE TO
THE FEMALE PRINCIPAL.
I KNOW SOME PEOPLE DISAGREE
WITH ME, AND WE'LL HAVE LOTS OF
TIME IN THE QUESTION AND ANSWER
PERIOD TO FIGHT IT OUT.
IN LESS SUBTLE READINGS OF THE
GENDER POLITICS OF THE
DANCEHALL, THIS SELF-CONSCIOUS
FEMALE ASSERTION OF CONTROL
OVER THE REPRESENTATION OF THE
BODY AND IDENTITY, IS
MISUNDERSTOOD AND THE
THERAPEUTIC POTENTIAL OF THE
DANCING BODY IS REPRESSED.
INDEED THE
JOYOUS DISPLAY OF THE FEMALE
BODY IN THE DANCE, IS
MISPERCEIVED AS A PORNOGRAPHIC,
DEVALUATION OF WOMAN.
AND I KNOW WE'VE ALL SEEN THE
MUSIC VIDEOS WITH THE DANCING.
IN ADDITION,
THE UNAPOLOGETIC MATERIALISM OF
DANCEHALL CULTURE WITH ITS
VALIDIZATION OF BLING-BLING,
ALL OF THE TRAPPINGS OF WORLDLY
SUCCESS IS MUCH DERIDED BY BOTH
SELF-APPOINTED, MIDDLECLASS
ARBITERS OF GOOD TASTE, AS WELL
AS BY FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIANS
WHO IN THEORY MORTIFY THE
FLESH.
BUT THE DESIRE TO OWN, THE
DESIRE TO OWN AN ORNATE, GOLD
CHAIN FOR EXAMPLE IS NOT
ESSENTIALLY DIFFERENT FROM THE
PERVASIVE MIDDLECLASS JAMAICAN
ASPIRATION TO ACQUIRE A HOUSE
THAT COULD EASILY PASS AS A
CASTLE.
OR THE FUNDAMENTALIST
CHRISTIAN'S INTENTION TO WALK
ON STREETS PAVED WITH GOLD.
[Audience laughs]
INDEED,
INDEED IAN BOYEN, CHRISTIAN
PASTOR AND RADIO, TELEVISION
PRESIDENT IN JAMAICA, WHO
ORDINARILY LASHES OUT AGAINST
DANCEHALL CULTURE, SOMEWHAT
SURPRISINGLY ATTACKS CHRISTIANS
AS WELL FOR THEIR MATERIALISM.
QUOTE, THE CHRISTIANITY WHICH
IS REALLY RUNNING THINGS IN
JAMAICA TODAY IS A BLING-BLING
CHRISTIANITY, THROUGH THE
WIDESPREAD PENETRATION OF CABLE
TELEVISION AND THE EXISTENCE OF
LOVE TV, JAMAICANS ARE EXPOSED
TO A BRAND OF NORTH AMERICAN
CHRISTIANITY, WHICH IS
PROMOTING A VERY, JAUNDICED
VIEW OF THE GOSPEL.
IT'S CALLED THE HEALTH AND
WEALTH GOSPEL AND IT TEACHES
THAT PROSPERITY IS A DIVINE
RIGHT THAT IS PROMISED TO EVERY
BELIEVER, UNQUOTE.
BOYEN'S SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS
ASIDE, ONE MUST CONCEIVE THAT
THE DESIRE FOR GOLD, WHETHER
SACRED OR SECULAR ORIGINATES IN
THE COMMON, HUMAN DESIRE TO
ENJOY LUXURY.
TO CITE SHAKESPEARE'S "KING
LEAR," QUOTE, ALLOW NOT NATURE
MORE THEN NATURE NEEDS.
MAN'S LIFE IS CHEAP AS BEASTS,
UNQUOTE.
RED, GOLD AND GREEN HERE IS
PART OF THE BLING AND THE
CULTURE OF LUXURY.
THE FANTASTIC UNDRESS CODE OF
THE DANCEHALL IN JAMAICA, IS A
GLAMOROUS EXPRESSION OF A
DISTINCTIVE, CULTURAL STYLE
THAT ALLOWS WOMEN IN PARTICULAR
THE LIBERTY TO DEMONSTRATE THE
SEDUCTIVE APPEAL OF THE
IMAGINARY, AND THEIR OWN
BODIES.
THE SPECTACULAR DRESS, THE
HAIR, MAKEUP, CLOTHES AND BODY
LANGUAGE ENHANCES THE ILLUSION
OF A FAIRY-TALE METAMORPHOSIS OF
THE MUNDANE SELF, INTO
EROTICIZED SEX OBJECT.
IN AN ELABORATE, PUBLIC,
STRIPTEASE TRANSPARENT BEDROOM
GARMENTS BECOME THEATRICAL
STREET WEAR, SOMEWHAT LIKE THE
EMPEROR'S NEW CLOTHES.
[Audience laughs]
AND WHO DARE
SAY THAT THE BODY IS NAKED?
ONLY THE NAIVE.
THIS PASSION FOR ESTHETIC
EXPERIMENTATION AND ROLE-
PLAYING UNDERSCORES I THINK A
HIDDEN PARALLEL, BETWEEN THE
ANNUAL RITUALS OF CARNIVAL
MASQUERADING IN OTHER CARIBBEAN
SOCIETIES AND EVERYDAY JAMAICAN
DANCEHALL CULTURE.
THE IMPORTATION OF AN
ADULTERATED TRINIDAD CARNIVAL
ESTHETIC INTO JAMAICAN POPULAR
CULTURE HAS RESULTED IN THE
CROSS, FERTILIZATION OF
TRADITIONS OF ROLEPLAYING IN
WHICH COSTUME, DANCE AND MUSIC
ARE CENTRAL.
CARNIVAL CREATES A PLATFORM FOR
PREDOMINANTLY, UPPER,
MIDDLECLASS BROWN AND WHITE
JAMAICANS TO SEEMINGLY ABANDON
RESPECTABILITY, PARADE THEIR
NAKEDNESS IN THE STREETS AND
GET ON BAD.
THAT IS PASS FOR BLACK ON THEIR
TERMS.

[Some laugh]

Carolyn continues EVERY DAY
JAMAICAN DANCEHALL CULTURE
PERMITS THE BLACK MAJORITY TO
ENJOY THE PLEASURES OF RELEASE
FROM THE PRISON OF IDENTITY
THAT LIMITS THE DEFINITION OF
THE PERSON TO ONE, SOCIAL CLASS
OR COLOUR.
THERE ARE IT IS ALL TOO TRUE,
PROFOUND, PSYCHO-SOCIOLOGICAL
UNDERPINNINGS OF THIS DESIRE TO
BE, STROKE PLAY THE OTHER, THAT
CANNOT BE SIMPLY WRITTEN OFF AS
MERE ENTERTAINMENT.
ROLEPLAYING BOTH CONCEALS AND
REVEALS DEEP-SEATED ANXIETIES
ABOUT THE BODY THAT HAS BEEN...
INCISED WITH
ITS CLARIFICATIONS OF HISTORY.
THE FLAMBOYANTLY, EXHIBITIONIST
DJ LADY SAW, EPITOMIZES FOR ME
THE...
SEXUAL
LIBERATION OF MANY, AFRICAN,
JAMAICAN WORKING CLASS WOMEN
FROM AIRY-FAIRY, JUDEO-
CHRISTIAN DEFINITIONS OF
APPROPRIATE FEMALE BEHAVIOUR.
IN A DECISIVE ACT OF FEMINIST
EMANCIPATION, LADY SAW CUTS
LOOSE FROM THE BURDENS OF MORAL
GUARDIANSHIP.
SHE EMBODIES THE EROTIC.
BUT ONE VIEWER'S EROTICA IS
ANOTHER'S PORNOGRAPHY.
SO LADY SAW IS USUALLY CENSURED
FOR BEING FAR TOO
LOOSE OR SLACK IN THE JAMAICAN
VERNACULAR.
OR WORSE IS DISMISSED AS A MERE
VICTIM OF PATRIARCHY ROBBED OF
ALL AGENCY.
MARILYN HALL'S SPECTACULAR
PERFORMANCE OF THE ROLE OF LADY
SAW IS NOT OFTEN ACKNOWLEDGED
AS A CALCULATED DECISION BY THE
ACTRESS TO MAKE THE BEST OF THE
OPPORTUNITY TO EARN A GOOD
LIVING IN THE THEATRE OF THE
DANCEHALL.
FOR EXAMPLE AMERICAN
ANTHROPOLOGIST OBIAGELE LAKE IN
HER BOOK, "RASTAFARI WOMEN,
SUBORDINATION IN THE MIDST OF
LIBERATION THEOLOGY," INDICTS
LADY SAW IN A CHAPTER ON
MISOGYNY IN CARIBBEAN MUSIC.
QUOTE, GIVEN JAMAICA'S
PATRIARCHAL CLIMATE ONE WOULD
EXPECT SEXIST LYRICS EMANATING
FROM MEN.
UNFORTUNATELY, WOMEN WHO HAVE
INTERNALIZED SEXIST NORMS ADD
TO THESE NEGATIVE IMAGES.
LADY SAW IS ONE SUCH SONGSTRESS
WHO PLAYS HERSELF AND BY
ASSOCIATION ALL OTHER WOMEN,
"STAB UP THE MEAT," IS THE MOST
GRAPHIC EXAMPLE, UNQUOTE.

[Some laugh]

Carolyn continues THE TITLE OF
THIS RAUNCHY SONG IS IN FACT
"STAB OUT THE MEAT."
AND IN SOME VARIANCE THE
DEFINITE ARTICLE BECOMES A
POSSESSIVE ME.
NOW I WOULD CONCEDE THAT IN
PERFORMANCE LADY SAW'S OUT DOES
SOUND LIKE UP, ESPECIALLY IS
ONE IS PREDISPOSED TO HEAR
VIOLENT ABUSE OF WOMEN IN
SEXIST DANCEHALL LYRICS.
FURTHERMORE, TO SOME LISTENERS
WHO ARE INSENSITIVE TO THE
NUANCES OF THE JAMAICAN
LANGUAGE, THERE MAY BE NO
SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
STABBING UP AND STABBING OUT.
BUT THE LATTER IS MORE ILLUSIVE
THEN THE FORMER.
LAKE'S INACCURATE TRANSCRIPTION
REINFORCES HER LITERAL, MINDED
READING OF THE SEXIST LYRICS OF
THE SONG AND ENTIRELY MISSES
THE METAPHORICAL ELEMENTS THAT
HIGHLIGHT THE INTENSE PLEASURE
OF VIGOROUS, NOT VIOLENT SEX.
THE PENIS HERE FUNCTIONS AS AN
EROTIC DAGGER STABBING PLEASURE
INTO AND OUT OF THE WOMAN.
CONVENTIONAL ASSOCIATIONS OF
ORGASM AND DEATH IN WESTERN
CULTURE ARE JUST AS APPROPRIATE
TO JAMAICAN DANCEHALL CULTURE,
COME IN MY SELECTOR.
LET ME JUST WARN YOU...

[Audience laughs]

Carolyn continues LET ME JUST
WARN YOU THAT THIS IS X-RATED
AND D.H. LAWRENCE HAS ALREADY
MADE THE F-WORD LEGITIMATE IN
LITERARY DISCOURSE.

She gestures at a woman in her thirties standing behind a computer with a sound system connected to it. The woman plays a tune.

A female rapper speaks Patois.

(music plays)

[Singing in Patois]

The music fades out.

Carolyn continues THIS, THIS
STARTLING IMAGE OF STABBING
MEAT WHETHER OUT OR UP, ALSO
UNDERSCORES A TRADITIONAL
ASSOCIATION BETWEEN FOOD AND
SEX IN CARIBBEAN CULTURE.
THE ALLUSION TO STABBING IS
DECIDEDLY NOT A SIGN OF LADY
SAW'S MASOCHISM, BUT A RATHER
ACCURATE IMAGE OF THE WAY IN
WHICH MEAT IS SEASONED IN
CARIBBEAN COOKERY.
IT IS LITERALLY PRICKED, PUN
INTENDED, AND THE SPICES
INSERTED.
THE METAPHOR OF THE WOMAN'S
VAG-GENITALIA AS MEAT DOUBLES
THE PLEASURE OF EATING.
THOUGH IN THIS SONG LADY SAW
LIKE MOST MALE DJS DECLARES
THAT SHE HERSELF, REFUSES TO
EAT QUOTE, UNQUOTE FURBURGER.

[Some laugh]

Carolyn continues DESPITE THE
RECURRING PROTESTATIONS IN THE
LYRICS OF THE DJS THAT THEY DO
NOT BOW, THAT IS ENGAGE IN ORAL
SEX, ONE INSTINCTIVELY, ONE
INSTINCTIVELY KNOWS THAT THEY
ARE PROTESTING TOO MUCH.

[Audience laughing]

Carolyn continues THERE, THERE
IS A THIN LINE BETWEEN PUBLIC,
STROKE, PUBIC DISCOURSE AND
PRIVATE PLEASURE, STROKE DUTY.

[Audience laughs]

Carolyn continues SO, SO WHAT
SOUNDS TO OBIAGELE LAKE'S
UNSEASONED NORTH AMERICAN EARS
LIKE ABUSE OF THE FEMALE BODY,
CAN BE REINTERPRETED FROM A
CARIBBEAN PERSPECTIVE AS AN X-
RATED AFFIRMATION OF THE
PLEASURES OF HEIGHTENED SEXUAL
PASSION.
ME HEAR YOU
CAN GRIND GOOD AND CAN F-
STRAIGHT, STAB OUT ME MEAT,
STAB OUT ME MEAT, THE BIG HOOD
YOU HAVE AND MAD -- STREET,
STAB OUT MY MEAT.
I HEAR THAT
YOU CAN GRIND GOOD AND F-
STRAIGHT, STAB OUT MY MEAT,
STAB OUT MY MEAT.
THE BIG HOOD, I.E. PENIS THAT
YOU HAVE IS MAKING GIRLS CRAZY
OUT ON THE ROAD, STAB OUT MY
MEAT.

[Audience laughs]

Carolyn continues NOW OBIAGELE
LAKE CHASTISES NOT ONLY LADY
SAW BUT ALSO THOSE OF US FANS,
WHO PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO
THE FULL RANGE OF THE DJ'S
LYRICS AND KNOW THAT SHE'S NOT
A ONE-DIMENSIONAL ARTIST, WHO
UNCRITICALLY REPRODUCES SEXIST
NORMS.
IN ADDITION TO THE SEXUALLY
EXPLICIT SONGS, FOR WHICH SHE'S
INFAMOUS LADY SAW'S REPERTOIRE
INCLUDES IMPECCABLE HYMNS,
COUNTRY AND WESTERN LAMENTS,
SONGS OF WARNING TO WOMEN ABOUT
THE WILES OF MEN AND
POLITICALLY, CONSCIOUS LYRICS
THAT CONSTITUTE HARD-CORE,
SOCIO-CULTURAL ANALYSIS.
FOR EXAMPLE, WHAT IS SLACKNESS?
SLACKNESS IS WHERE THE
POLITICIANS GIVE OUT GUNS AND
HAVE THE YOUTHS KILLING OFF
EACH OTHER.
FAILING TO UNDERSTAND THE
COMPLEXITY OF LADY SAW'S
ANNOUNCER PERSONA, AND THUS HER
APPEAL TO A WIDE, CROSS SECTION
OF INTELLIGENT FANS, HAVE BEEN
MUSED OBIAGELE LAKE TOTALLY
DISMISSES A RECUPERATIVE
READING OF THE BODY OF WOMAN IN
DANCEHALL CULTURE, THAT IS
OFFERED BY BOTH INNER BLACKMAN
AND MYSELF IN THE 1994 ISAAC
JULIEN FILM, "THE DARKER SIDE
OF BLACK," DIRECTED BY LENA
GOPAUL.
QUOTE, IT IS PERPLEXING HOW
SCHOLARS CAN HONOUR DANCEHALL
MUSIC AND DANCEHALL BEHAVIOURS
THAT GRAPHICALLY DEVALUE WOMEN.
SINCE THIS BEHAVIOUR IS NOTHING
MORE THEN A CONTINUATION OF
WOMEN'S OBJECTIFICATION.
POPULAR CULTURE CRITIC CAROLYN
COOPER, 1993, CONDONES
MISOGYNIST LYRICS AS WELL AS
WOMEN'S LASCIVIOUS BEHAVIOURS ON
THE DANCE FLOOR, UNQUOTE.
OF COURSE I DO NO SUCH THING.
I CELEBRATE LADY SAW'S
ENTERTAINING AND INSTRUCTIVE
LYRICS, WHICH LAKE DEVALUES AS
MISOGYNIST.
AND I VALORIZE THE EROTIC
DANCING THAT SHE DISDAINS AS
LASCIVIOUS.
NOW LAKE LAUNCHES AN AMUSING
LINE OF AD-FEMININE ATTACK, AD-
FEMINUM ATTACK, QUOTE, FILM
DIRECTOR INNER BLACKMAN
EXPRESSES SIMILAR SENTIMENTS IN
GOPAUL'S FILM.
WHAT IS INTERESTING ABOUT THESE
VIEWS THAT IS VERY UNLIKELY
THAT EITHER COOPER OR BLACKMAN
WOULD EVER APPEAR SCANTILY
DRESSED, PERFORMING SEXUAL
SHOWS LIKE THE WOMEN THEY
DESCRIBE, UNQUOTE.
NOW THE PERTINENCE OF LAKE'S
ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT MY OWN
SARTORIAL PREFERENCES AND
SEXUAL PROCLIVITIES ENTIRELY
ESCAPES ME.

[Some laugh]

Carolyn continues NEVERTHELESS
FOR THE RECORD, LET ME
UNASHAMEDLY CONFESS THAT I ONCE
PERFORMED IN A SEXUAL SHOW,
EVEN IF NOT AS A PRIMARY
OBJECT, STROKE SUBJECT ON
DISPLAY, I THOROUGHLY ENJOYED
MYSELF.

[Audience laughing]
[Audience applauding]

Carolyn continues A, A FEW
YEARS AGO I ATTENDED A MALE
STRIP SHOW AT CARLO'S CAFE IN
KINGSTON.
I WAS INVITED TO EXPERIENCE A
LAP DANCE WITH ONE MR. WELL
HUNG...

[Audience laughing]

Carolyn continues WHOSE DAY
JOB WAS BARBERING IN OCHO RIOS.
HE CERTAINLY KNEW HOW TO CUT IT.

[Audience laughs, applauds]

Carolyn continues HAVING
TEASED ME IN MY SEAT, THE
STRIPPER THEN PULLED ME ON
STAGE AND ENGAGED ME IN
PROTRACTED ROLEPLAY AS WE
DANCED RUBADUB STYLE, MUCH TO
THE PLEASURE OF THE AUDIENCE.
I CERTAINLY KNOW HOW TO
DISTINGUISH BETWEEN
ENTERTAINMENT PLAIN AND SIMPLE
AND MISOGYNY, OR IN THIS CASE
MISANDRY TO COIN A WORD FOR THE
EQUIVALENT HATRED OF MAN AS
EXPRESSED IN THE
OBJECTIFICATION OF THE MALE
BODY PUT ON DISPLAY FOR THE
PURELY VISUAL PLEASURE OF THE
FEMALE.
NOW LAKE CONCLUDES OR REPRIMAND
US, MOREOVER COOPER'S ANALYSIS
OF THE ISSUE OF SEXISM IS
EXTREMELY NARROW, SINCE IT DOES
NOT ADDRESS THE FACT THAT MOST
PEOPLE SEE WOMEN ONLY IN TERMS
OF THEIR BODIES.
BEHAVING IN EXTREMELY SEXUAL
WAYS OFTEN TO ATTRACT MEN DOES
NOTHING TO ALTER THIS FACT.
NOW I MUST QUESTION THE
AUTHORITY OF THAT ALL,
ENCOMPASSING GENERALIZATION
THAT MOST PEOPLE FAIL TO
ACKNOWLEDGE THE FACT THAT WOMAN
IS MORE THEN MEAT OR SOURFISH.
FURTHERMORE, IN THIS SCREWED UP
READING OF GENDER POLITICS,
SEXUAL ATTRACTION BETWEEN MEN
AND WOMEN IS CONSTRUCTED AS
ENTIRELY PATHOLOGICAL.
OLD-FASHIONED SEX APPEAL
BECOMES NEW, FANGLED NEUROSIS.
BUT SURELY THE PLEASURE THAT
MEN AND WOMEN SHARE IN SEXUAL
RELATIONSHIPS OF MUTUAL TRUST
CAN BE ACKNOWLEDGED AS
THERAPEUTIC, THERAPEUTIC NOT
EXPLOITATIVE.
SELF-RIGHTEOUS CRITICS OF THE
SEXUALIZED REPRESENTATION OF
WOMEN IN JAMAICAN DANCEHALL
CULTURE WHO CLAIM TO SPEAK
UNEQUIVOCALLY ON BEHALF OF
OPPRESSED WOMEN, OFTEN FAIL TO
ACKNOWLEDGE THE PLEASURE THAT
WOMEN THEMSELVES CONSCIOUSLY
TAKE IN THE SALACIOUS LYRICS OF
BOTH MALE AND FEMALE DJS WHO
AFFIRM THE SEXUAL POWER OF
WOMEN.
NOW I DO CONCEDE THAT AS LAKE
RIGHTLY OBSERVES COMMERCIAL
SEX WORKERS, BOTH MALE AND
FEMALE ARE OFTEN DISEMPOWERED,
CAUGHT IN A CYCLE OF
EXPLOITATION, FROM WHICH ESCAPE
IS DIFFICULT.
BUT NOT ALL CONSENSUAL ADULTS
SEX IN THE DANCEHALL CAN BE
REDUCED TO THE LOWEST COMMON
COMMERCIAL DENOMINATOR.
INDEED IN THE FILM, "DANCEHALL
QUEEN" A POINTED CONTRAST IS
ESTABLISHED BETWEEN LARRY'S
PHALLOCENTRIC SEX SHOP WHERE
WORKING WOMEN GLIDE UP AND DOWN
A RIGID POLE, AND THE MUCH MORE
FLUID SPACE OF THE DANCEHALL
WHERE LOOSE WOMEN ENJOY THE
PLEASURES OF UNINHIBITED
DISPLAY.
NOW I TURN TO THE LYRICS OF
SHABBA RANKS'S DANCEHALL'S
FIRST INTERNATIONAL SUPERSTAR,
TO ILLUSTRATE THE WAYS IN WHICH
CONTEMPORARY DANCEHALL CULTURE
IS MUCH, MORE SOPHISTICATED
THEN IS USUALLY ASSUMED.
AN ARTIST LIKE SHABBA RANKS WHO
IS STEREOTYPICALLY DEFINED AS
SEXIST BECAUSE OF HIS RAW
CELEBRATION OF SEXUALITY AND
HIS EXTRA, NAKED ATTENTION TO
FEMALE BODIES, PROVES TO BE
MUCH MORE CUNNING THEN IS
ORDINARILY ASSUMED WHEN ONE
CAREFULLY READS NOT JUST HIS
BODY LANGUAGE AND HIS MUSIC
VIDEOS, BUT ALSO HIS LYRICS.
HIS SENSITIVITY TO THE PLIGHT
OF MATERIALLY, IMPOVERISHED
WOMEN AND HIS ADVOCACY OF
EGALITARIAN GENDER RELATIONS,
PARTICULARLY IN MATTERS OF
SEXUAL POLITICS ARE TRULY
REMARKABLE.
IN THE SPIRIT OF BENEVOLENT
PATRIARCHY SHABBA...
EXHORTS WOMEN
TO CONTROL THE COMMODIFICATION
OF THEIR BODY AND INSURE THAT
MEN VALUE THEM APPROPRIATELY.
THIS I THINK CONSTITUTES A
RADICAL POLITICS AND ECONOMICS
OF THE SEXUAL BODY.
IN "GONE
UP," FROM THE "AS RAW AS EVER."
1991 CD, SHABBA LIKE LADY SAW
PLAYING ON THE PROVERBIAL
ASSOCIATION BETWEEN FOOD AND
SEX IN CARIBBEAN CULTURE, NOTES
THAT THE PRICE OF A NUMBER OF
COMMODITIES IS GOING UP.
CROTCHES, SAUSAGE, EVERYTHING
IS GOING UP, BULLY BEEF, RICE,
TO A CHORUS OF AFFIRMATIVE
FEMALE VOICES HE ASKS WOMEN A
RATHER POINTED QUESTION AND
PROCEEDS TO GIVE ADVICE ON
NEGOTIATING A MUTUALLY,
BENEFICIAL, SEXUAL CONTRACT.

She gestures at her assistant, who plays another tune.

(music plays)

[A man sings in Patois]

(music plays)

The music fades out.

Carolyn continues WOMAN, WHY
NOT THE -- LOVING, BETTER
RAISE IT TOO, BEFORE YOU LET
OFF THE WORK YOU BETTER DEFINE
SOME DOLLARS FIRST.
MAKE A MAN KNOWS THAT TEN
DOLLAR CAN'T BUY A FRENCH CUT.
NO MAKE NO MAN WORK OVER YOUR
BODY AS IF IT'S AN OLD TRUCK.
WOMEN, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO
ABOUT YOUR LOVING?
BETTER REASON THE PRICE OF IT
TOO.
BEFORE YOU HAVE SEX YOU MUST
MAKE SURE TO NEGOTIATE FIRST.
LET THE MAN KNOW THAT TEN
DOLLARS CAN'T BUY FRENCH CUT
LINGERIE.
DON'T LET THE MAN WORK OVER
YOUR BODY AS IF IT'S AN OLD
TRUCK.
NOW SHABBA MAKES IT CLEAR THAT
HE'S NOT ADVOCATING
PROSTITUTION.
THE COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIPS
BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN CANNOT BE
REDUCED TO PURELY ECONOMIC
TERMS OF EXCHANGE.
SHABBA ASSERTS THAT A MAN MUST
ASSUME A MEASURE OF SOCIAL AND
ECONOMIC RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS
SEXUAL PARTNER.
IT IS ULTIMATELY A MORAL ISSUE.
IT'S NOT A MATTER OF FACT...
SELLING IT.
BUT SOME MAN SAY THAT THEY WANT
IT.
AS THEM GET IT THEM RUN DOWN...
NO MAKE NO MAN RUN DOWN -- TELL
YOU GET PROFIT.
EVERYTHING I RAISE -- WANNA DO.
OH NOW WANT TO RAISE THE PRICE
ON THE POMPOM TOO?

[Audience laughs]

Carolyn continues IT'S NOT
THAT YOU'RE ACTUALLY SELLING
IT, BUT SOME MEN SAY THEY WANT IT.
AS SOON AS THEY GET IT THEY RUN
AWAY AND LEAVE IT.
DON'T LET THE MAN RUN AWAY AND
LEAVE IT AND YOU DON'T PROFIT.
EVERYTHING IS GOING UP SO WHAT
ARE YOU GOING TO DO?
AREN'T YOU GOING TO RAISE THE
PRICE OF YOUR PUSSY TOO?
INDEED, SHABBA CHALLENGES A
STEREOTYPE OF THE ROBOTIC,
DOMESTICATED FEMALE WHO IS TOO
TIMID TO QUESTION THE UNEQUAL
EXCHANGE OF SERVICES AND
RESOURCES IN HER HOUSEHOLD.
HOW SOME WOMEN GO ON LIKE THEM
NO WORTH.
HITCHED UP IN THE HOUSE LIKE A
HOUSE ROBOT.
HOUSE FOR CLEAN THEM CLEAN THAT
UP, AND CLOTHES TO WASH, THEM
WASH THAT UP.
AND DOLLARS ARE RUNNING THEY
DON'T GET ENOUGH.
THERE ARE SOME WOMEN WHO BEHAVE
AS IF THEY HAVE NO WORTH,
CONFINED TO THE HOUSE AS THOUGH
THEY ARE HOUSE ROBOTS.
HOUSE TO BE CLEANED, THEY CLEAN
IT.
CLOTHES TO BE WASHED, THEY WASH
THEM.
DOLLARS ARE FLOWING AND THEY
DON'T GET ENOUGH.
SHABBA
SCATHINGLY INDICTS
IRRESPONSIBLE MEN WHO INSTEAD
OF SPENDING MONEY TO SUPPORT
THEIR HOUSEHOLD WOULD RATHER
WASTE THEIR RESOURCES CAROUSING
WITH THEIR MALE CRONIES.
NOW YOU HAVE
SOME MAN NO WANT TO NO
SPENDING.
AND WHEN THEY DO THE SPENDING
PART OF THEM -- AND NOW BUY
THEM DARLING, ICY MINT.
NOW THERE ARE SOME MEN WHO
DON'T WANT TO SPEND, THEY WOULD
RATHER SPEND ALL THEIR MONEY ON
THEIR MALE FRIENDS AND WOULDN'T
BUY EVEN AN ICY MINT FOR THEIR
DARLING.
NOW AN ICY MINT IS ONE OF THE
CHEAPEST SWEETS ON THE MARKET.

[Audience laughs]

Carolyn continues SO THAT THE
DEPTH OF THE DELINQUENT MAN'S
FAILURE IS THUS MEASURED IN
VERY, COMMON CURRENCY.
SHABBA'S COMPASSION FOR FEMALE
HOUSE ROBOTS AND HIS EQUAL
CONTEMPT FOR SEXIST MALES WHO
ARE STINGY IN DOMESTIC MATTERS,
ECHO THE CRITIQUE OF GENDER
RELATIONS THAT JAMAICAN
FOLKLORIST AND POET LOUISE
BENNETT OFFERS IN HER DRAMATIC
MONOLOGUE, "OH MANY QUALITY."
ENOUGH OH MAN DEPEND THAT THEY
MAY SAY THEY SEEK LIBERATION
FROM MAN DOMINANCE.
COUNT OUT SOME MAN GOT AWAY
FROM CHATBOAT SAY WOMAN'S PLACE
IS IN THE HOME.
AND THAT THE MAN SAID THAT TO
MONTANA YARD SO WASH AND COOK
AND CLEAN ALL DAY LONG AND TAKE
ANY LITTLE MONEY PRETENDS WHAT
THE HUSBAND WANT TO FLING BY
THEM A WEEK TIME.
AND MAKE IT STRETCH TO PROVIDE
FOOD AND CLOTHES AND SHELTER.
MEANWHILE THE HUSBAND THEM WILL
DRINK AND GAMBLE AS THEY LIKE.
A LOT OF WOMEN ARE INSISTENTLY
SEEKING LIBERATION FROM THE
DOMINANCE OF MEN WHO ADVOCATE
THAT A WOMAN'S PLACE IS IN THE
HOME.
THESE MEN DEMAND THAT THE WOMAN
STAY AT HOME, WASHING AND
COOKING AND CLEANING ALL DAY
LONG.
THEN AT THE END OF THE WEEK SHE
IS FORCED TO TAKE WHATEVER
PITTANCE THE HUSBAND THROWS HER
WAY.
SHE HAS TO MAKE DO WITH THE
LITTLE SHE GETS, STRETCHING IT
TO COVER THE COSTS OF FOOD,
CLOTHING AND SHELTER, WHILE
HE'S DRINKING AND GAMBLING AS
HE PLEASES.
NOW BENNETT IS NOT A WRITER
WHOM ONE WOULD READILY IDENTIFY
WITH THE SLACKNESS OF DANCEHALL
CULTURE.
THOUGH I DO ARGUE THAT HER
CHOICE OF JAMAICAN AS A
PREFERRED LANGUAGE OF VERBAL
CREATIVITY, DOES HER ALIGN HER
TO AN OUTLAWED TRADITION OF
RESISTANCE TO EUROCENTRIC,
UPPERCASE HIGH CULTURE.
CONTESTING THIS ARGUMENT IAN
BOYEN DECLARES QUOTE, THERE
WILL BE THOSE WHO WILL SEEK TO
VALIDATE THEIR VULGARITY OF
CULTURE AND PERVERSION BY
APPEALING TO MISS LOU.
WHAT, WHAT IS BEAUTIFUL ABOUT
THIS KIND OF DISCOURSE IN
JAMAICA IS THAT WE ENGAGE IN A
LOT OF THROW WORD.
I MEAN HE'S REALLY TALKING
ABOUT ME, BUT HE'S NOT
BOTHERING TO CALL MY NAME.

[Audience laughs]

Carolyn continues SO IT'S A
KIND OF, A -- BUT ME NOT
CALLING HER FOUL, YOU KNOW.
AND WHEN IT'S THROWN, STONE IN
A HOT PEN, THE ONE THAT ANSWERS
THEM THAT LEAK, YOU KNOW, SO
IT'S THAT KIND OF DISCOURSE.

[Audience laughs]

Carolyn continues SO, THERE
WILL BE THOSE WHO WILL SEEK TO
VALIDATE THEIR VULGARITY AND
CULTURAL PERVERSION BY
APPEALING TO MISS LOU, NOTING
THE RESISTANCE SHE RECEIVED
FROM SOCIETY PEOPLE WHEN SHE
STARTED WITH THE DIALECT.
BUT DON'T INVOLVE MISS LOU IN
A, ON A NASTINESS.

[Audience laughs]

Carolyn continues EVERYONE WHO
KNOWS HER KNOWS SHE HATED
PROFANITY WITH A PASSION.
LADY SAW IS NO MODERN-DAY MISS
LOU.
VULGARITY AND THE SKIN OUT,
BLACK OUT THING IS NOT OUR
CULTURE.
IT IS IMPORTANT FROM ABROAD,
UNQUOTE.
I'M DOING A LITTLE PLUG FOR MY
BOOK.
THERE'S A WONDERFUL PICTURE OF
MISS LOU DRESSED FOR ONE THE
PANTOMIMES IN AN OUTFIT THAT I
SEE ANTICIPATING DANCEHALL
STYLE, OKAY?

[Audience laughing]

Carolyn continues THERE ARE
INDEED RARE HINTS OF SEXUAL
SLACKNESS IN MISS LOU'S
REPERTOIRE.
ADMITTEDLY, NOT OF THE
EXPONENTIALLY, X-RATED LADY SAW
VARIETY.
MERVIN MORRIS IN HIS TEACHINGS
NOTES TO BENNETT'S FORMER
REGISTRATION, UNCOVERS A SEXUAL
DOUBLE ENTENDRES IN THE
FOLLOWING LINES.
NOW THE MASTA MAY BE FEELING
HAPPY, FOR I AM GLAD FOR SEE AT
LAST OH MAN THEY COP THAT IF
YOU SERVE THAT MAN THAT SOUR
SAUCE.
LORD OF MERCY, I FEEL HAPPY.
FOR I'M GLAD TO SEE WOMEN THAT
AT LAST WOMEN HAVE MADE UP
THEIR MINDS TO SERVE MEN THEIR
OWN SOUR SAUCE.
MORRIS NOTES THAT QUOTE, SAUCE
HERE SUGGESTS SEMEN.
IT IS IMPLIED THAT WOMEN HAVE
DECIDED TO DO TO MEN WHAT
SEXUALLY MEN HAVE DONE TO THEM.
AND MERVIN REPORTS THAT HE ONCE
ASKED MISS LOU, IF SHE HAD
INTENDED THAT, AND HE SAID SHE
SMILED ENIGMATICALLY.

[Audience laughing]

Carolyn continues SHABBA
UNDERSCORING THE FUNDAMENTAL
NECESSITY OF SWEET AND SOUR
SAUCE BOTH SEX AND FOOD, URGES
MEN TO ASSUME ECONOMIC
RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE EATING
THAT THEY DO.
JUST LIKE A POOR MAN CAN'T LIVE
WITHOUT FLOUR.
A POOR MAN CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT
RICE, AS SOME MAN CANNOT LIVE
WITHOUT WIFE, YOU HAVE THE
WOMAN SPEND ENOUGH ON HER
RIGHT.
JUST AS A MAN CAN'T LIVE
WITHOUT FLOUR, OR A MAN CAN'T
LIVE WITHOUT RICE.
IN THE SAME WAY A MAN CAN'T
LIVE WITHOUT A WIFE.
YOU'RE A MAN SPEND A LOT ON
HER, AS IS ONLY RIGHT.
NOW, THERE ARE SOME WOMEN THAT
WOULD DECIDEDLY OBJECT TO THE
DJS EQUATING OF RICE, FLOUR AND
WIFE.
WHAT IS
PARAMOUNT HERE IS SHABBA'S
UNDERMINING OF THE PROPER
MIDDLECLASS, JAMAICAN
STEREOTYPE OF THE IRRESPONSIBLE
WORKING CLASS, BABY FATHER WHO
ASSUMES...
NEITHER
SOCIAL NOR ECONOMIC
RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS WOMAN
AND OFFSPRING.
FURTHERMORE SHABBA'S CONVICTION
THAT A MAN CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT A
WIFE IS A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF
THE NORMALIZATION OF
HETEROSEXUALITY IN JAMAICAN
SOCIETY AND ITS HEIGHTENED
FORMS OF EXPRESSION IN
DANCEHALL CULTURE.
MANY JAMAICANS VIGOROUSLY
OBJECT TO BEING LABELLED AS
HOMOPHOBIC.
CLAIMING THEIR HETEROSEXUALITY
AS NORMATIVE, THEY REJECT THE
NEGATIVE CONNOTATIONS OF THE
PHOBIA IN HOMOPHOBIA.
FOR THEM IT IS HOMOSEXUALITY
THAT IS A MORBIDITY, NOT THEIR
CULTURALLY LEGITIMATED AVERSION
TO IT.
BUT JUST AS PREVARICATING
CHRISTIANS ARE TAUGHT TO HATE
THE SIN AND LOVE THE SINNER,
JAMAICANS ARE GENERALLY
SOCIALIZED TO RECOGNIZE THE
FACT THAT ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY
VALUES ARE ENTIRELY COMPATIBLE
WITH KNOWING, ACCEPTANCE OF
HOMOSEXUALITY WITHIN THE
COMMUNITY.
THIS IS A FUNDAMENTAL PARADOX
THAT ILLUSTRATES THE COMPLEXITY
OF THE IDEOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION
THAT I'VE CONSTANTLY MADE
WITHIN THE SOCIETY.
MOST MALE HOMOSEXUALS IN
JAMAICA SEEM CONTENT TO REMAIN
WITHIN THE PROVERBIAL CLOSET,
BUT THE DOOR IS WIDE OPEN.
THEY MOVE COMFORTABLY ACROSS
SOCIAL BORDERS.
THEN THERE ARE THE CLEARLY OUT,
HOMOSEXUALS WHO WORK FOR
EXAMPLE AS HIGGLERS IN JAMAICAN
MARKETS AND PLY THEIR TRADE
WITH RELATIVELY LITTLE
PROVOCATION.
MANY HAVE MASTERED THE ART OF
TRACING, RITUALIZED VERBAL
ABUSE AS A FORM OF PROTECTION
FROM THE, FROM THE POTENTIALLY
MURDEROUS BEHAVIOURS OF
UNENLIGHTENED PEOPLE.
ROBERT CARR A RESEARCH
ASSOCIATE IN "THE ASCENT OF A
POPULATION COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL
CHANGE" AT THE UNIVERSITY OF
THE WEST INDIES MONA IN
JAMAICA, DOCUMENTS THE EXTRA-
LEGAL JUDGEMENT THAT IS OFTEN
METED OUT TO VICTIMIZED
HOMOSEXUALS IN JAMAICA.
QUOTE, SUCH ATTACKS HAVE A
NAME.
THEY ARE CALLED BATTY
JUDGEMENTS.
AND FOR THE SAKE OF NON-
JAMAICANS BATTY IS JAMAICAN FOR
BUTTOCKS, AS A REFERENCE TO THE
PERCEIVED ANAL SEX OR
BEHAVIOURS OF HOMOSEXUAL MALES.
THE FACT THAT ALL OF THE
INFORMANTS KNEW WHAT A
JUDGEMENT WAS, ALTHOUGH THEY
DID NOT NECESSARILY KNOW EACH
OTHER ATTESTS TO THE UBIQUITY
OF THE TERM.
THE CONCEPT OF ANYTHING
ASSOCIATED WITH HOMOSEXUALITY
BRINGS WITH IT THEIR NATHAMA
EXPRESS BY ADDING THE TERM
BATTY TO THE PHRASE.
THUS CARR REPORTS A GROUP OF
MEN WAS HARASSED FOR PROMOTING
BATTY BUSINESS, BECAUSE THEY
HAD A NUMBER OF CONDOMS ON THEM
THAT THEY INTENDED TO
DISTRIBUTE IN PROMOTING SAFER
SEX AND CONDOM USE.
BUT A MAN FOR DEAD, GAY MEN
MUST DIE, WHICH BOOTY BANTERN
MADE INFAMOUS, BUT I ARGUE
ELSEWHERE THAT, NOT ALL OF
THESE LITERAL SOUNDING THINGS
ARE INTENDED TO BE LITERAL.
I KNOW IT'S CONTROVERSIAL, BUT
YOU KNOW I THINK WE CANNOT
SIMPLY READ EVERYTHING IN THE
DANCEHALL LITERALLY.
WE HAVE TO CONCEDE THAT THE
SAME KIND OF METAPHORICAL
DISCOURSES THAT APPLY IN OTHER
GENRE MUST BE SEEN AS
APPLICABLE HERE.
SO THIS IS A COMMON EXPRESSION
THAT ACCOMPANIES AS A COMMUNITY
ACTS.
IN ONE INSTANCE A LARGE CROWD
GATHERED TO WATCH CHANTING
BATTY MAN, BATTY MAN, BATTY
MAN, WHILE THEY ATTACKED TO
PLEASE.
IN THAT INSTANCE, THE MAN WAS
BEATEN, KICKED, STABBED, HAD
FILTHY WATER FROM THE GUTTER
THROWN ON HIM BY A GANG OF
ARMED MEN.
THIS LEVEL OF BRUTALITY WAS A
COMMON THREAD REPORTED BY THE
INFORMANTS, ALTHOUGH LARGE
CROWDS GATHERING TO WATCH ARE
LESS COMMON.
THE MERE FACT THAT SOMEONE IS
ACCUSED OF BEING A BATTY MAN IS
SUFFICIENT TO TRIGGER AN ATTACK
OF SUCH VIOLENCE.
NOW CARLENE, THE DANCEHALL
QUEEN, MADE A QUITE INTERESTING
POINT A LITTLE WHILE AGO ON A
TELEVISION PROGRAM WHEN SHE
SAID IN THE DAYS WHEN THERE WAS
A LOT MORE PHYSICAL VIOLENCE
AGAINST GAY MEN IN PARTICULAR,
THERE WERE NO DJS SINGING THE
LYRICS.
AND NOW THAT THERE ARE FEWER OF
THESE KIND OF PUBLIC ATTACKS
THE DJS ARE BEING BLAMED FOR
THEIR ATTACKS, SO IT'S REALLY
QUITE COMPLICATED.
NOW THE BIBLICAL TERM JUDGEMENT
WITH ITS OLD TESTAMENT
RESONANCE, IS OF IMMEDIATE
FIRE, AND BRIMSTONE, DAMNATION
CONFIRMS A FUNDAMENTALIST
CHRISTIAN GENESIS OF THIS
RAMPANT HATRED OF HOMOSEXUAL
BEHAVIOURS IN JAMAICA IN
GENERAL, AND ITS MANIFESTATION
IN ACTS OF BRUTALITY COMMITTED
BY WORKING CLASS MALES IN
PARTICULAR.
THOUGH THE
AVERSION TO HOMOSEXUALITY
CROSSES CLASS LINES, EXPRESSIONS
OF PHYSICAL VIOLENCE AGAINST
HOMOSEXUALS ARE USUALLY
RESTRICTED TO WORKING CLASS
COMMUNITIES...
WHERE
HIERARCHIES OF IMPOVERISHMENT
AND MARGINALIZATION ARE
INSTITUTIONALIZED.
THOUGH THIS CERTAINLY DOES NOT
EXCUSE IT.
INDEED, CLASS PRIVILEGE USUALLY
INSULATES MIDDLE AND UPPER-CLASS
HOMOSEXUAL MALES IN JAMAICA
FROM ACTS OF HETEROSEXIST'S
PHYSICAL VIOLENCE.
NOW THE CREDENTIALIZING OF
SEXUAL ORIENTATION BECOMES
NECESSARY IN A SOCIETY WHOSE
POLITICAL LEADERS FOR EXAMPLE
DO USE THE ALLEGED
HOMOSEXUALITY OF RIVALS AS A
DEADLY WEAPON.
A SPECTACULAR EXAMPLE OF THIS
LEGITIMATING IMPULSE WAS A
SURPRISING PUBLIC DECLARATION
ON THE RADIO TALK SHOW, "THE
BREAKFAST CLUB" MADE BY THE
PRIME MINISTER OF JAMAICA P.J.
PATTERSON IN 2001.
QUOTE, MY CREDENTIALS AS A
LIFELONG HETEROSEXUAL PERSON
ARE IMPECCABLE, UNQUOTE.

[Laughs]
[Audience laughing]

Carolyn continues THE
OPPOSITION IN JAMAICA, LABOUR
PARTY IS NOTORIOUS FOR
ATTACKING PRIME MINISTER P.J.
PATTERSON ON GROUNDS OF COLOUR
AND MORE RECENTLY ALLEGED
SEXUAL ORIENTATION.
T.O.K.'S POPULAR ANTI-
HOMOSEXUALITY SONG, "CHICHI
MAN," WAS USED BY SUPPORTERS OF
THE JAMAICA LABOUR PARTY AS A
RALLYING CRY DURING THE 2001
BI-ELECTION CAMPAIGN.
NOW "CHICHI MAN" IS CURRENT
SLANG FOR HOMOSEXUAL.
THE DICTIONARY OF JAMAICAN IN
ENGLISH DEFINES CHICHI AS
QUOTE, THE DRYWOOD TERMITE...
TERM IS BRAVEST AND KNOWS THAT
IT IS PROBABLY FROM SOME
AFRICAN FORM INDICATING SMALL
SIZE, UNQUOTE.
NOW ONE WANDERS IF THE CHICHI
MAN SLANG CENSURE OF THE
MEANING IS INTENDED TO
REPRESENT THE HOMOSEXUAL AS A
DIMINUTIVE MAN.
IN ADDITION, SINCE WOOD STROKE
HOOD, IS A JAMAICAN CRUDE
METAPHOR FOR PENIS, CHICHI MAN
COULD ALSO SUGGEST THE
VULNERABILITY OF THE HOMOSEXUAL
MAN, HOMOSEXUAL MANHOOD TO
CHICHI OF ALL KINDS.
IN ADDITION, HOMOPHOBIA IN NEO-
AFRICAN SOCIETIES LIKE JAMAICA
IS OFTEN CONCEIVED AS AN
ARTICULATION OF AN AFRICANIST
WORLD VIEW, IN WHICH THE
ESSENTIAL COMPLIMENTARAGE OF
OPPOSITES IS AFFIRMED, EARTH,
SKY, MALE, FEMALE, ETCETERA.
THERE'S A POPULAR JAMAICAN
PROVERB THAT USES A VIVID,
DOMESTIC IMAGE TO DEFINE THE
QUOTE, UNQUOTE UNNATURALNESS OF
HOMOSEXUALITY.
TWO PART COVER, KIND OF SHORT.
THE PART FEMALE AND ITS COVER
MALE NATURALLY GO TOGETHER.
HETEROSEXUAL INTERCOURSE IS
SHUTTING OFF PART WITH COVER IS
IDEALIZED AS NORMATIVE.
THIS PROVERB'S CLEAR
PROSCRIPTION AGAINST THEIR
ATTEMPT TO SHUT TWO COVERS OR
BY IMPLICATION TWO PARTS, CAN
BE DECODED AS AN AFFIRMATION OF
AFROCENTRIC NORMS OF SEX OR
PROPRIETY.
AND ONE OF THE IRONIES IS OF
ALL OF THIS DANCEHALL
HOMOPHOBIA HAS BEEN THAT THE
DANCEHALL HAS BECOME A SPACE IN
WHICH JAMAICAN SOCIETY HAS BEEN
FORCED TO COME OUT OF THE
CLOSET ON THE ISSUE OF, OF
HOMOSEXUALITY.
SO QUITE IRONICALLY, THIS IS
THE ONE OF THE POSITIVE
SPINOFFS OF THIS WHOLE DEBATE
BECAUSE MUCH OF THIS DISCOURSE
HAD BEEN HIDDEN.
AND IT WAS SURPRISING HOW MANY
PEOPLE IN JAMAICA CAME OUT IN
PUBLIC, IN SUPPORT OF THE
HOMOSEXUALS RIGHT TO SOCIAL
SPACE, WHICH PEOPLE WOULD NOT
HAVE ASSUMED.
BUT THERE IS THIS WIDESPREAD
RECOGNITION THAT THE SOCIETY'S
UNDERGOING RADICAL
TRANSFORMATION.
SO WE'RE SEEING THE PARADOXES
OF SOCIAL CHANGE, RESISTANCE
AND AT THE SAME TIME, OPENING
UP OF SPACES FOR ALTERNATIVE
VALUES.
SHABBA RANKS'S PRAGMATISM IN
MATTERS OF SEX OR POLITICS
LIKELY THE SOURCE IS FIRMLY
ROOTED IN JAMAICAN PEASANT
VALUES.
A NUMBER OF JAMAICAN PROVERBS
NOT ONLY ASSUME HETEROSEXUALITY
AS NORMATIVE, BUT ALSO AFFIRM
THE CLEAR CO-RELATION OF LOVE,
SEX AND MONEY IN FOLK CULTURE.
WHEN MONEY DONE, LOVE DONE.

[Some laugh]

Carolyn continues MAN CAN'T
MARRY IF HIM DON'T HAVE CASHIO,
METAPHOR FOR RESOURCES.
WHEN MAN HAVE COCOA HEAD IN A
BARREN, HIM CAN GO POKE WIFE.
COCOA HEAD THAT YOU PLANT TO
GET THE, THE TUBAS.
WHEN POCKET FULL AND BANKER
FULL, WOMAN LAUGH.
BANKER, A HUGE BASKET.
CUTICA FULL, WOMAN LAUGH.
ANOTHER VERSION OF THE CUTICA
IS A SMALLER BASKET THAT THEY
CARRY TO THE FIELDS.
WOMAN AND WOOD, AND WOMAN AND
WATER AND WOMAN AND MONEY NEVER
QUARREL.

[Some laugh]

Carolyn continues AND THE MOST
QUOTE, UNQUOTE, VULGAR OF THEM
ALL, YOU MUST FIND A PLACE TO
PUT YOUR HEAD BEFORE YOU FIND A
HOLE TO PUT YOUR HOOD.

[Audience laughs]

Carolyn continues IN
CONCLUSION THEN AS JAMAICAN
SOCIETY EVOLVES FROM A RURAL,
PEASANT-BASED, AGRICULTURAL
ECONOMY TO AN URBAN, WAGE,
EARNING ECONOMY, NEW MODES OF
ARTICULATION OF CULTURAL NORMS
AND SEXUAL PRACTICES ARISE.
OLD-FASHIONED PEASANT VALUES OF
RELATIVELY SETTLED DOMESTIC
ORDER ON SMALL LAND HOLDINGS,
GIVE WAY TO MORE MODERN NOTIONS
OF COMMODIFIED EXCHANGE...
OF GOODS AND
SERVICES.
SEXUAL RELATIONS BETWEEN MEN
AND WOMEN IN RELATIVELY,
UNSTABLE, URBAN SETTLEMENTS
OFTEN REFLECT, PREVAILING,
SOCIAL, ECONOMIC CONDITIONS.
IT IS NOT
ONLY SEXUAL RELATIONS THAT ARE
NOW COMMERCIALIZED IN THE URBAN
SETTING.
FOR EXAMPLE, INFORMAL,
COMMUNAL, CHILDCARE SYSTEMS IN
RURAL COMMUNITIES, GIVE WAY TO
THE ORGANIZED BUSINESS OF THE
URBAN DAYCARE INDUSTRY.
THE SECOND ECONOMICS OF
CONTEMPORARY DANCEHALL GENDER
POLITICS CONSTITUTES I THINK AN
URBAN UPDATING OF THE
PROVERBIAL WISDOM OF JAMAICAN
FOLK CULTURE.
THE SOURCE IS SEXUAL DISCOURSE
OF JAMAICAN DANCEHALL DJS LIKE
THAT OF THEIR MENTOR
ANTECEDENTS, IS AN ESSENTIAL
ELEMENT OF THEIR TOTAL
PERFORMANCE, REPERTOIRE.
LIKE THE CALYPSO AND
COUNTERPARTS, DANCEHALL DJS
DEPLOY PUNGENT METAPHORS TO
ELABORATE THE RECURRING
IDENTIFICATION OF SEX AND FOOD
IN CARIBBEAN POPULAR CULTURE.
LADY SAW AND SHABBA RANKSS ARE
EXEMPLARY EXPONENTS OF THIS
GENRE, THEIR SALACIOUS LYRICS
ARE ROUTINELY DISSED BY THEIR
DETRACTORS AS EVIDENCE OF THEIR
CREATOR'S MORAL DEGENERACY.
CONVERSELY I ARGUE, THAT THE
ORAL, STROKE, SEXUAL POLITICS
OF THESE BRAZEN ARTISTS
CONFIRMS THE LONGEVITY OF AN
AFRICAN DERIVED COSMOLOGY, IN
WHICH THE SACRED AND THE
PROFANE, THE BODY AND THE
SPIRIT ARE EQUALLY VALORIZED.
THANK YOU.

[Audience applauding]

Watch: Sexual politics in Jamaica's dancehall culture