By now, all my readers know that I am not a Crop Over person. I always make that disclaimer so that anything I say can be taken with the grains of salt advised! Nevertheless, I think that there are more stalls than people taking over parade day.
If I do go to the spectacle, I usually lime by the Wadadah Posse in Bank Hall – good food, good people. Traditionally, the stall is adjacent to the building and the courtyard is a gathering spot for patrons. This year, there were at least four other stalls making the space for standing, sitting and watching congested and uncomfortable.
Coupled with the reduced space due to stalls, I also noticed that some businesses closed off their parking areas to hinder people from leaving their cars there. I think that is completely unpatriotic and were all Barbadians like me, they would make a copious note of those businesses with the intention not to patronize them. Crop Over brings a tremendous amount of revenue to many businesses. From food to clothing to plumbing and everything in between, there are benefits for almost every business.
What then could be the rationale for closing a parking lot on a non-business day to hinder the culmination of a mutually beneficial economic activity? I can understand if clear guidelines were given about how parking should be undertaken, but I can see no reason bar selfishness for closing off properties altogether.
I also noticed that more garbage disposal facilities are needed. I never litter and just because the Sanitation Service Authority staff will clean up when the jump up is done, this does not mean people should simply drop litter along the route. If not bins, then more bags should be placed along the route and next to the stalls for refuse collection.
It would be remiss of me not to congratulate Ricky Lil Rick Reid. I have been his fan forever and ever. He is just talented when it comes to music whether it is rolling off hit after hit or as a deejay on a set. I hope we appropriately honour Rick soon and give him his flowers while he is not only able to smell them but also still snazzy enough to wuk up with them!
I left the main thing which annoyed me about this year’s festival for last. How could we possibly give our national soca crown to an artiste who rendered a song trivializing sexual harassment? I have not heard a single other person be confused about how we upheld Blood in his thinly veiled attempt at disparaging the new sexual harassment legislation.
Blood weaves a narrative in the song which disregards the issue of consent. He suggests that sexual harassment is simply subtle unwelcomed suggestions, or making a pass. In no way does he point to the underlying issues of power and control and abuse of power or position as factors in sexual harassment.
Blood upholds false and outdated concepts that blame women for sexual assault or harassment. He sings that if a woman, “… flaunts cleavage when I am around… or legs improperly crossed when yuh sitting down,” he will call out for sexual harassment! These lines give men who perpetuate sexual harassment and assault against women the feeling of rightness for their behaviour based on the belief that women ‘ask’ for their abuse.
As if that were not enough, the song’s refrain encourages us to be skeptical of women when they report harassment. Blood explains that we are fast to believe women ‘just so’ when they are harassed and thus he was expecting the same thing as a man. This follows on from the belief that since women’s actions usually cause the harassment anyway they should not be heard or given the benefit of doubt.
The song clearly highlights how alive and well the rape culture is in Barbados. The fact that the song has caused no public outrage shows how much our attitudes to women and girls remain largely unchanged. It is completely disappointing that in 2018, after all that we have done, this is what we hold up as the best of Crop Over.
In one piece of popular culture Blood has undone years of work and sensitization by entities including the National Organization of Women. We feel so poorly about women in Barbados and their ability to tell the truth and have the sense enough to know whether they are harassed or not, that we elevated Blood, gave him a crown and money. How fabulous!
(Marsha Hinds is public relations officer of the National Organization of Women. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)