Two incidents occurred recently, and we had much discussion about them singly. However, I wanted to combine the two for the collective lessons that they may offer. I want to talk about the ‘lining’ Mr Jet Ski offered the tourists and the very unfortunate and petty incident that cost Shannon Gabriel dearly.
Let me start by saying that the Shannon Gabriel episode is yet another example of how the West Indies Cricket Board is not clear on its role and puts its players up to undue scrutiny. I think that the International Cricket Council dares to be as brazen in its attack against our side because they know that a part of the problem that West Indies Cricket has rests at the level of management of West Indies Cricket.
A trap was set for Gabriel and he succumbed. Likewise, a trap was set for Mr Jet Ski that was clear in the responses that were being given to him as the taping occurred. However, although a trap was set in both instances, Gabriel managed to stay within the lines of ambiguity enough that had I been in any type of management position in the WICB I would have fought ‘tooth and nail’ for Gabriel’s ‘tongue in cheek’.
How could the field mics only work to pick up Gabriel’s reply? How could asking a man if he likes boys become a homophobic comment? That was Root’s interpretation, but it was not the only interpretation and in fact, I think Root was the one being offensive for upholding what I thought to be a significant misconception about homosexual men – that they have desires for boys as opposed to other grown consenting men.
There was enough, I thought, that the WICB could have and should have taken the matter to trial. They should have fought in that instance not just for Gabriel, but for Holder as well. That they did not I think is more of a testament about the level of management that we are forced to endure with the West Indies cricket set up than an indictment on our players.
Mr Jet Ski, now, was clear on the other side of tongue and teeth. I felt a sense of immense joy and satisfaction watching Mr Jet Ski in action frankly. Put together, Gabriel came out the saint in the face of the two sets of provocation. Gabriel was at least able to remain in the realm of decency and it is for that reason I felt personal disappointment that we did not collectively defend him.
Mr Jet Ski though, gave a white woman privy to what he gives to me as a black woman on a daily basis – and apparently colour privilege is still rigidly set in place in Barbados such that we can only realize how abhorrent behaviours are when they are directed toward white, gentle ladies in need of protection.
Barbados was deserving of the public shaming that it got from the circulation of that video. If Gabriel’s comments are seen as a homophobic slur (and I do not agree with that interpretation) then we, as a Commonwealth Caribbean, are also deserving of that shaming as well. Why? Because we refuse to check the tongue and teeth of our men.
In a world where gender sensitivity and political correctness are critical parts of civility and humanity we are happy to let Commonwealth Caribbean men continue to live in Neanderthal days. We still make them feel that a sexual slur against a woman is allowed and, further, that it is just a part of male behaviour.
I hear a handful of people criticizing Gabriel – thankfully only a handful because we have established that I think public shaming is not a bad idea for men with pedophilic tendencies like liking boys! I have heard no one stop to ask if the West Indies Cricket Board has gender sensitized our boys. Ironically, there was, in my mind, much less ado about the ‘doan blush baby’ comment.
Certainly, I did not hear the acknowledgement of the WICB that it was time to sensitize the boys. Indeed, our general cultural views about women make them collateral damage when men behave poorly. We know that cricket is a sporting representation of the wider Commonwealth Caribbean society. If we have not gender sensitized the West Indies Cricket team, then we know that we certainly have not done it with male service providers in the tourism industry.
The whole nation of Barbados now knows how men talk to women. We know that they tell you which lessons they want to teach your mother and how big the body part is that they want to teach her with. We did not know before Mr Jet Ski told a tourist but thank goodness for the tourist because we now know.
Some Barbadian men are crude and crass in the way that they address women. More broadly across the region, men’s tongues and teeth are bad behaved and we now realize that this behaviour poses real and imminent danger – so what we gonna do?
Marsha Hinds is public relations officer of the National Organization of Women. Email: [email protected])