A question of self contempt
Stabroek News – October 12, 2007
In one of his most loved pieces, Guyana’s poet laureate, Martin Carter, speaks of “leaping from the oppressor’s hate and the scorn of myself”. Bob Marley put it slightly differently when he urged, “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery; none but ourselves can free our mind.”
We in the Caribbean bear the legacy of being commodified, negated, dehumanized by the colonizer, but we carry scars that go much deeper: the scars of self-contempt.
It is self-contempt that makes a woman accept-even delight in-the obscene suggestions made by popular musicians, DJs and, in turn, by the men on the street corner; any woman who has a modicum of self-respect will be dismayed that our menfolk have become so expert in vulgarity.
My letter (07/10/07) was an invitation to other women who respect themselves to offer suggestions on how this new hobby among Guyana’s menfolk can be brought to an end since verbal rape is, without question, totally unacceptable, and needs to be dealt with accordingly. I know, from conversations with fellow students that there are many, many of us who have been terribly traumatized by these verbal assaults-most indeed find the pain so great that they cannot bring themselves to put their anger into words. This is not a frivolous matter, and it is not simply a matter of male DNA and flirtation. It is a studied and merciless mental abuse that is being perpetrated on women-and nothing is being done.
Again I ask: what measures can be taken to restore self-respect and respect for others in our society? Far from accepting this new style of abusing women we should recognize it for what it is: an exercise in self contempt.
We are still awaiting emancipation.