On 8 March, the world will celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD). Here in Trinidad and Tobago, some will clink glasses, others will engage in “big” talk at cocktail parties while others will analyse gender issues to death in panel discussions, talk shops, talk shows and seminars. A minority will take positive action to bring women’s issues to the attention of the wider public. Continue reading “Rowley’s men diddle while women get burned!”
“Muted” would be an accurate description of Trinidad and Tobago’s response to the international #metoo movement, despite the rampant sotto voce comments about who slept their way to the top and with whom. Our collective ambiguous response is understandable given the size of the country. In another context, this was described as the economics of consent. Additionally, there is a culture of open secrets which negatively impact women’s opportunities for professional advancement. Who would be so crazy to say #metoo or to name the perpetrator(s)? Reference what happened in the Angostura case; a woman accused an executive in 2016 of sexual harassment; she has since been fired and the matter is still unresolved. Despite having women well-placed in their hierarchy, Angostura Limited has demonstrated an amazing level of duplicity. On the one hand, when you look at the establishment, there are women in management while on the other hand theres no sexual harassment policy so when the senior executive was inspired to call out the then Chairman, her only option was to use the “Whistleblower” policy which is totally inadequate to deal with issues of sexual harassment. This duplicity is fully supported by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago who appointed the Chairman and to date has spent M$3.5 dollars on his defence against the sexual harassment charges.
What is ironic is that the male decision makers in this scenario all have wives, sisters and daughters yet they seem numb to the fact that it is only a matter of time before either their wife, mother, sister or daughter is sexually harassed. Given the current response, she would have to take the harassment and shut up.
North American data says that one in four women is sexually harassed in the workplace. Why do we think that the data would be different for us? It is likely to be higher but there is not data to clarify. Oops… I forgot; we call it “bad skylark” and if we take this sexual harassment issue seriously, it will negatively impact our level of camaraderie and culture. Well, it’s about time to change this unfortunate response. Your inappropriate comment about how sweet I am looking this morning is not appreciated. The use of the word “sweet” in this context is offensive. Your catcalls are disgusting! Your focus on my breasts is repulsive! Your “feeling up” my hand is not a hand shake and on and on!
Men, if you’re interested in protecting your daughter from sexual harassment, please desist from the locker room talk with your guy friends about what “it” was like with so and so from the office. Please give me a straightforward “3-pump” hand shake. Please hold my gaze and not stare at my breasts. Please speak out against sexual harassment. The most important thing you can do is NOT use your position of power and influence to gain sexual favours! Bob Dylan in 2018 sang “Your silence speaks louder than those who condone!”