An outspoken women’s rights activist has pointed to one of 2019’s most popular Crop Over tunes as a symbol of double standards and contradictions in society, which urgently need to be addressed.
People’s Monarch and Road March winner Leadpipe’s hit song Sometime has grabbed the attention of President of the National Organisation of Women (NOW) Marsha Hinds who charged that while artistes are praised for promoting weak sexual relationships and families, the country’s social institutions discourage it, resulting in a strained social environment.
Hinds identified Leadpipe’s and a number of other songs as reflective of a “problematic” aspect of Barbadian society, which promotes weak family structures, poor parental involvement and ultimately deviant youth.
Leadpipe’s groovy song recounts a fictional conversation between him and a female with whom he is already engaged in a romantic relationship, but has shown interest in his companionship as well. While the singer acknowledges that he is interested in a “relationship”, he informs the woman that she can call him to enjoy his company “sometime”, but not all the time.
“I heard the song Sometime in the festival and I didn’t say anything about it…but when you start awarding national competitions and the song wins national acclaim and award, you begin to look at it in a different way and begin to ask yourself how much the music reflects society and how much society is reflected in the music and then you wonder if people start to understand that the very issues that we talk about on a daily basis are reflected as well,” she said.
Leadpipe, whose real name is Osvaldo Reid, has had a successful season with the song, also placing third in the new Soca Monarch competition.
Quoting the lyrics of the popular song, Hinds argued, “When two adults get together and do a ‘sometimes’, and they ‘keep it simple’, nobody should ask for anything more than what they already have and a child comes along in a context like that, what do we as a society do? Do we make abortions simpler or do we streamline our maintenance and access provisions?” she asked.
“At the end of the day, consenting adults can do consensual things. That is fine, but at the point at which that relationship or that simple ‘sometimes’ is complicated by a child, decisions have to be made.”
Hinds said the ideas being perpetuated by the song are “alright” during the Crop Over season, but questioned the impact of such attitudes when the reality of such situations starts affecting the country’s fragile, social welfare structures and other interest groups.
“There is a point at which we have to understand in Barbados that what Leadpipe is singing about, what other artists are singing about, is not only just popular culture, but it is how we feel and carry out our lives on a daily basis. Those choices are going to have ramifications. So if we continue to have children in ‘sometime’ relationships, that will have ramifications. It will have a ramification on the types of issues we see with our teenage children and the lack of support in schools.
“I am not saying this is wrong, but if this is what we want our societies to be, then we have to clearly accept that and deal with the ramifications. There is a point at which art is a reflection of the society and if that is what we understand our society is, then let us stop complaining. Let us stop pretending that we do not understand what the issues are.
Hinds further acknowledged that Caribbean sexual relationships have historically been “very volatile” and societal structures “complicated”, but called for policymakers to demand a greater level of familial stability.
“Why can’t a woman who gets pregnant in a ‘sometimes’ relationship, go to the QEH and have an abortion? What is the big deal? Why is it so hard, although abortion is ‘legal’ in Barbados, why is it still so hard to get an abortion.
“If we know we have ‘sometime’ relationships, then why is it so difficult for men who make children in a sometime relationship, to support the child?” she asked.
“More than Leadpipe’s song being a problem for me, is the hypocritical part of our society.”
The NOW official also questioned the messages being sent by songs like King Bubba’s She always bend ova, in which the singer indicates he cannot identify a particular woman by her face, because she is “always” bent over.
“How do you come back after Crop Over and sit down in front of a woman as your boss, manager or co-worker and respect her? At what point does it become important to see a woman’s face?” she asked.
“I’m sorry and I don’t really mean to be a spoiled sport, but it feels a way… Even in the social commentary we are seeing some very blurry lines in relation to our society and what we want our values to be,” said the activist. [email protected]