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Not Condemning: T&T’s Angostura Farm, where all animals are holy but only cows are sacred

“Doudou!”

“Darling!

“Darkie!”

“Red ting!”

Photo: A young woman gets the unsilent treatment as she walks along the street.

“Sweet ting!

“Slim ting!”

“Tick ting!”

“Tall ting!”

Their catcalls come at us from all sides, across the street, across the room, in the Stadium, in the Oval, in City Gate, at the taxi-stand, everywhere. Their candid remarks about our bodies are delivered without hesitation, with no concern for their impact on us; we might as well be dumb animals.

Their objectification (unabashedly expressed in the constant “ting,” sweet, tall or short, slim or thick, white or black or red) knows no bounds. Nor does their lechery. And it respects few barriers, the major one being the presence of a male significant other.

Nowadays, things are a lot worse than they used to be. Of course, there still are those ordinary, right-thinking men who stand up for what is right and insist on proper treatment of women. But they are, it is clear, outnumbered.

One effect of this growing anti-woman, man-is-boss attitude is that women are unable to enjoy genuine freedom of movement on the streets. We find that we are now constrained to make complex arrangements so that we are almost always accompanied by a male. But, as attested to by the recent flare-up in the debate about whether mace and pepper spray should be legalised, it is not just to reduce our exposure to these unsavoury remarks but to protect ourselves and ensure our physical safety.

Photo: A woman is treated to catcalls in New York.
(Copyright NY Daily News)

However, I find that idea much less uncomfortable than the idea that thousands of women have been socialized into thinking that catcalls and other similar aggressive behaviour are really compliments and, therefore, are completely acceptable. Perhaps, sadly, it is a generational thing. I certainly remember a time when many women would wonder aloud, “Why is it that men don’t understand that I dislike their crude comments?”

“Crude comments.” Say that to the members of the Boys’ Club and they will respond, with a dismissive wave of the hand, that it is “only man talk.”

“Whappen,” they might add, “ah man cyar even make ah joke with ah ooman now?”  Don’t be fooled into thinking that that behaviour is confined to the “bad boys” on the street corners; it is an all-pervasive attitude, exhibited wherever men get together.

And that is why there is a need for radical change as regards how women are treated in both public and private spaces, high and low, in Trinidad and Tobago. I do not think the households where the narrative continues to be that “A woman’s place is in the home and her role to rear the children and make sure everyone is properly fed” are defined by level of income or of education. I do not think that men in only one type of environment socialise their male offspring into thinking that “roughing she up” is the manly thing to do; environments across every stratum of the society ooze male dominance and female abuse.

Photo: A female victim of domestic abuse.

Men’s sense of entitlement as far as women are concerned is deeply embedded in our psyche, making the problem systemic. It will only be solved when we take a systems approach to understanding it and shifting the needle. My continuing focus on sexual harassment is fuelled by the lack of action with a view to embedding a system to help people understand the issue and their own reactions.

When I repeatedly call for legislation, it is with the full understanding that, without clearly articulated consequences for not making changes, the status quo will remain unchanged. When I repeatedly call for policy implementation, it is with the full understanding that the conversation about sexuality and sexual harassment must take place so that people will understand the changing norms and the new boundaries. When I repeatedly call for the removal of a top official still on the job despite being under a cloud of sexual harassment accusations, it is with the full understanding that that person’s actions speak so loudly that audiences cannot hear his words.

On at least one issue, audiences cannot hear their government’s words either. The current Rowley-led PNM Administration continues to be silent on the issue of an independent, transparent investigation into the sexual harassment allegations made against the Chairman of the 30% government-owned Angostura Holdings Limited.

The absence of any action to remove the Angostura Chairman is a message, loud and clear, that, as far as Government is concerned, all animals are equal but only certain cows remain sacred.

 

Photo: Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister (Gender and Child Affairs) Ayanna Webster-Roy.
(Copyright News.gov.tt)

So if women continue to be on the receiving end of constant catcalls wherever they venture and are treated like dogs by a substantial part of the male population, for Dr Rowley and his Cabinet, including no small number of women, that is really, as far as I can see, small ting.

About Dennise Demming

Dennise Demming
Dennise Demming is an Adjunct Faculty Member at UWI, Media and Communications Strategist, TEDxPOS organiser and co-licensee for TEDxPortofSpain and Chairman of the Board at TTTHTI. Dennise, who grew up in East POS, also has a Business MBA and B.Sc. in Political Science & Public Administration and Mass Communications from UWI.

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60 comments

  1. Hear this guys! The game has changed. So hang up your guns; hand over your hunting licence to the next woman you see. And wait until you are approached.
    And to be extra careful… ask for it in writing and for ID. Lol

  2. This has passed down from generations gone, I’m in my 40’s and I’ve seen this as a child, things have changed a lot, look at the women speaking out about all these issues and their age group, I’ve never harassed any woman and never will, but watch out this world now is about rights for everything, we gonna fight for rights till we won’t be able to live anymore, I love my wife and my daughter but what I see in the future is grim, fact for thought ,,,,,if women liked poor men there would be no crime, yes ! Now go on YouTube and type in carnival Trinidad and Tobago and take in how decent our women behave in the streets, rather disgusting, I think the issue in Trinidad is more complex than people think and it will take many many years if ever to be changed the way modern day women want and expect it to be, just my thoughts not hating so don’t be a donut

  3. I partially agree with Shane Maynard ! In the society we live in today women can’t affford to be dressing in some of the outfits we see today in society. There are rapists and sickos lurking so as much as a woman has all right to wear what they want they also have a responsibility to take their safety in consideration with dressing to go out in public.
    Also the term sexual harassment has been lately over used and abused. Before I am condemned heat me out and think a bit outside the box for a minute. Sexual harassment is unwanted but I know alot of man and women who pick up companions by psssst , baby, sexy, hmmm you look good gual etc. Now if it comes down to it and a woman says she not interested and the guy ceases with the comments then is that really considered sexual harassment. For it to be sexual harassment the recipient has to make it known it is unwanted not this does not apply to the workplace which is governed more stringent rule I am refering to greetings in the street.

  4. You tell some of them good morning and they act like you insulted their great ancestors so this is bullshit.

  5. Do you know if the ladies just smile at them or wave all the cat calls will stop trust me I have seen it happen

  6. Women today have an issue with men and their cat calls and remarks. Now I’m seeing women, hauling those same remarks towards other women and the responses are different. I have nothing to say to anyone.

  7. If you know you not good looking (and I mean model looks) or driving a Rolls Royce don’t give these women any attention in the street. The fact of the matter is that the average woman on the street considers the average man on the street as grossly unattractive by default. In order for her to consider anything attractive about you she’ll have to be convinced about a huge number of additional factors. Its the harsh truth guys need to face…. Leave them alone … they think you’re disgusting.

  8. Actually it’s Thick thing….. Just saying

  9. Hay hold up ladies u all are to blame if u all dress appropriately and cover yuh body and don’t show yuh curves den men will hav nothing to tell u. 99% of u all dress for attention.

    • And yet there are rapes in Muslim countries. And there have been sex crimes long before the age of the mini skirt.
      I think you are very wide of the mark here. Very very wide.

    • I understand wat u saying but No as u see because of those types of wears it hav been more rampant. Even on television and advertisements most times is women dressing sexy. So males hav it hard all around now are days.

    • Shane the irony is that it could be men who are offering women money to appear in sexy clothing to sell products.
      When you coerce people to do things that aren’t good for them by offering enough money… Well that’s the dirty side of capitalism.
      In any case Shane, if you dressed up and go out and someone thinks that they’re aroused by how you look.
      Does that give them the right to do as they please with you? Or to tell you whatever they like? (I know you would like to imagine that the aroused people are all gorgeous models. But resist that feeling. Lol)
      People must have some self control too.

    • So basically you are saying that when a sicko rapes a woman or child he’s not to be blamed? Just trying to really understand your statement. A woman can dress however she’s comfortable dressing. That is no reason for a man to harrass her when she walks the road. What kind of sick thinking is that?

    • No it dose not give anyone the right to halla out or cat call out to a female. But if she dress appropriately and don’t exposed her self minimize de chances of getting de attention of men.

    • Am not referring to men who raping women and children am speaking about verbal abuse in public, or harassment in public and work places

    • I don’t approve of none of those, harassment, neither rapist, but in order to understand it u need to find out wat cause persons to react in Dat mamma they’re many things.

    • I have been catcalled in my school uniform (which was a loose overall) by men old enough to be my father, in relaxed fit jeans with a baggy t-shirt and sneakers, whether I wear makeup or not, whether I comb my hair or not. Do not blame women for men’s inability to keep their mouths shut.

    • Anu-Nandika. Yes I understand but this is de result of wat I was speaking about from the Era wen clothing design change.

    • How is a school uniform revealing or inappropriate? How is it ok for an adult male to make sexual comments to a minor?

    • Dats a pervert he was completely wrong for doing Dat. There is no reason for him to say such things to u.

    • That’s just it… these aren’t isolated incidents… unfortunately I had multiple instances of this just as many other girls have had.

    • I no wat u mean I apologize. Wen it comes to some I mean some men’s reactions to women now are days is because of society changes and we accept it. And how society use the work as sexy wen it relates to a lady hav gotten worst.

    • Shane Maynard as a woman no matter what wear you are subjected to sexual remarks just for being female. It’s a culture thing in the society we live in and encouraged. It’s one thing to be complemented it’s another to be harrassed..and I’m not talking about by what you deem sickcos.

    • I usually do not comment on anything..but its this kind of thinking that is the problem….women should dress appropriately so as not to get harassed…ammm NO!…..society..parents..ppl…need to teach..men …young boys…to RESPECT women..period…men hav to change their behaviour!..im supposed to b able to wear what i WANT…thats my choice!…we need to teach alyuh men that regardless of what a girl has on..its not their right to make any kind of outta timin comment…cuz men will pull at a girl in ah bag!! So plz as thinkin individuals we hav to see that the problem is bigger than what women decide to wear…its learning about how to really respect women.

    • I am always decently dressed. Hasn’t stopped men from harassing me in the streets one bit

    • Oh please…. I’ve been catcalled when I was in my primary school uniform….. in my secondary school uniform…… in my fieldwork clothes (mud stained coveralls and steel- toes boots)….. in my business suit…. while very much pregnant in very covered up maternity clothes….. and the list goes on…… stop using clothing as justification….. I am teaching my son that regardless of how a persons looks, behaves or their “status” etc in life You Must Always Treat A Person With Dignity and Respect…..

    • Hi I understand Dat. And I said 99% of women. It’s good u teach yuh son I admire Dat and keep it up. Also he is a man and he will hav a phase in his life to pass true wen it comes to his hormones adapting and maturing. A man will understand Dat. Wat boys and men are exposed to wen it comes to how some females dress its frightening and u no wat am talking about, works place, on the streets, at parts, for carnival, even church etc. And I do admire wat u are doing and it starts wit and also parenting of some parents who has girl child and they dress.

    • I didn’t say all ladies dress bad but they majority over ways the little Dat dose the right thing.

    • Shane u living under a rock.? I have seen and experienced men harass well dressed covered women! I cud be in a suit going to church or work is the same nonsense. Stop acting like u dont know trini men . Clothes have nothing to to with it

    • Shane Maynard IT DOES NOT MATTER…..WHAT A WOMAN DECIDES TO WEAR!!!! MEN HAVE TO LEARN TO CONTROL THEMSELVES….PERIOD!! So u tryin to say women hav to dress appropriately cause men retarded n are incapable of controlling their behaviour!?!….come on man ..better than that

    • Wat am saying ladies hav a big part to play wit it and needs to accept Dat. Men are men. If men walk around half naked and sexy as they say wat would u think would be de out come of young ladies and women?

    • Hmm ok…u hav proven my point…some..men are retarded n cannot control themselves…i thought words were powerful enough to bring understanding to any individual…but clearly its not..not dissing u…but now i see there is need for some serious studies/talks on this subject…to bring some understanding on why men do not see that this is such a huge problem ..smh

    • Fari I’m just saying praise God you said “some!” 😆😆
      Seriously I agree with you. I didn’t think this blog was doing more than stating the obvious. But gauging from the discussion, clearly I was fooling myself.

    • Lasana Liburd lol no..im not lumping all men in his bracket…it jus so disappointing that men think that way. My hope the that men who know right..will do right..n check the ones that dont know RIGHT!

    • Fari Keba yes I agree wit u also, because I hav a little girl growing up out there also, and didn’t even disrespect ladies and I no for my daughter I would have to kick in a few Jaws.

    • But in order de try to fix this we hav to deal wit de root and since we can’t control de media we hav to teach our young ladies and men to respect them selves and to be gentlemen.

    • De root of de problem is NOT what a woman chooses to wear and things like dressing respectable are subjective. Men hv to learn to control themselves. That is all there is to it

    • Shane Maynard hhmmm…listen its good that u hav a daughter…what i would hope that u do in her upbringing is always keep a bond between the both of u..that she can n will always come to u with any problems she is having…form that.n most important..Listen…to wat she says..could b nonsense…doesnt matter ..listen…watch as she gets older..ppls reactions…to her…in normal settings…n u will see…what women go through…n then u will understand…im glad that ur open to tryin to understand….i hav a daughter…she is young..but is takin after me…in shape…n the stories she comes home with…n she is in school clothes…i dress her properly…it doesnt stop nothing…n i hear my daughter say she hates her shape?! Because some men dont act appropriately….sometimes in the school yard while their pickin up their kids ?!no no no….men hav to check THEMSELVES … teach boys….to respect women

    • Yes she will always come to me because am a single father. Thanks for the advice tho

    • Why wasn’t he charged though it clearly is an offence under the Offences Against the person Act for Harassment.

  10. A lot of women who are not obviously taken readily make themselves unavailable for any type of conversation. They participate in male bashing in every which way there is an outlet to, a behaviour that started as a trend but now has become part of their socialization and “culturalization,” and thought to maturing generations. In decades gone by they fought for what they called equality and got it, now most dont want to handle the responsibility that comes with it. This new found independence got them listening to each other talking about they dont need a man and proceed to behave that way. So when the street greetings come it is unacceptable to them not just because they say it’s abusive, but because they saying, what he bothering me for I dont need him.
    What men want is for women to reopen the narrative on heterosexual relationship, men and women relationship building issues, and stop adopting the negative views of others that is/has erode the conversation that was good for us in the past. Be an independent thinking individual and stop attending those girls night out anti-male support classes. In the mean time the men who know how to properly interact with women are often left with the only choice to join those who don’t.
    Real ting.

  11. When you start off your article trying to bash a man that was investigated and cleared i stop taking you serious

  12. Ramesh Moonie not sure the relevance of bikinis or grinding on man. Neither or these things particularly make me less respectful to random women in the streets. I personally wouldnt like having large groups of people i have 0 interest in and who are probably 50% bigger than me aggressively commenting on my body and demanding my attention. Thankfully i was born male so unless a group of gay super aggressive body builders get together an act towards men the way some guys treat women in the street that would never happen. If it did i 100% would never be seen in that area again 🙁

  13. Men have been doing this, whatever you call it, from for eons.

    Men do not know or refuse to admit the ill effects of such on women.

    Some women enjoy it but apparently many many dont.

    Would men stop it. Not unless the law takes a hand.

    But we have to be careful with these laws. They have a tendency to go overboard.

    To help children being abused wr now have children reporting their parents for correctly disciplining them.

    To correct sexual abuse at the workplace you can face charges for telling a woman that her hair looks good or that her dress looks nice or for any such compliment.

    We may end up with men being charged for simply looking too hard at a woman. Lol

  14. What a joke? Trini women cannot support this article until they stop wearing bikinis and grinding down on a man crotch for Carinval.

  15. Well apparently it’s not just in Trinidad, Morgan Freeman is being accused of said behaviour. I would bet any dollar that every society get its fair share of this. I wonder why? Maybe It’s in the DNA. Part of the.mating game? Just thinking! Hmmmm

    • Always detested cat calling too: tend to agree with Ramesh Moonie, too.

    • I get very upset also when males come up to me very close and tell me “they never suck a white c….t”. I am Portuguese/Caucasian so you can well imagine how I could trip off. A couple of times cussed males plus given them the middle finger. Many years ago stopped going to Carnival fetes…..if I leave my husband talking with friends to go to a bar to get a drink for myself (I am very independent like that), for some reason men try to pick me up, think I come to T&T for Carnival to pick up men. I am very sensitive and tell them flat out, not interested and I AM A TRINI (became a Trini years ago but still cannot get rid of British/Aussie accent) Always tell my husband to have bail money ready for me because one day I just might hit a man for what he says to me. Fed up also with the ‘whitey’ plus ‘reds’. A couple of years ago in POS my daughter nearly collared a man for what he said to her…..she was in town for business for her part time job and this guy called out something to her but she could not stop to tell him anything as she would have been late. When she had completed her business she went to see if man still sitting on bench and he was there and she gave him a good cussing etc. right up in his face. Have been called a lesbian and man hater because I reject males comments etc.

    • Yep…real trini…you have it down sista..don’t take crap from them

  16. Well written ! Hats off to this writer !

  17. This brought back memories. “Mornin Darling! Slim ting! Aye whappen? *steuups*……Whappen, ah man cyar even make ah joke with ah ooman now?!”
    That’s why we kept our heads down, ignore, speedwalk to our destination, thinking that this is how men are & try not to provoke them into any more interaction.

  18. Women are uncomfortable and have challenges no doubt.

    Some women have no manners when they are out in public. Men acknowledge the presence of little to very attractive women. Do women acknowledge the presence of little to very attractive men?

    When women ‘coast’, men are reduced to Not- ting!

    Why do women pay so much attention and money to look attractive if they do not want to attract anyone?

    What is stopping women from having Girl’s Clubs?

    Was there sexual harassment of men and young boys by women under the KPB regime? What did the women advocates say and do?

  19. Question for the writer, one I asked many times before with no answer.

    What will legislation (still unclear as to what she wants it to say) do that current laws do not do?

    • Legislation will provide a clear definition which is not now contained in the law. Complementary to the definition will be the development of policies within organizations which will cater for grievances to be addressed. The issue which has been raised in the public was considered under the whistle blower policy. The comments on this issue demonstrate that this matter needs to be publicly discussed so that we have a chance to engage in an open discussion about sex and sexuality.

      Here is a synopsis of the information which is in the public domain:

      1) The complaint was made in November 2016. Refer to Newspaper Articles “Daily Express” dated 3rd January 2017, 9th January 2017, 10th January 2017, 12th January 2017, and 14th January 2017. Dr. Balgobin, from inception to completion of the investigation, remained/s a sitting Chairman on the Board of Angostura. 

      2) There have been two aborted investigations into this matter as follows: 

      a) The first investigation was dismissed by the Audit Committee Chairman, (a Government appointed director on the Board of Angostura’s ultimate parent company CL Financial Limited), without the knowledge and consultation of the other members of the Audit Committee.  Refer to Newspaper Article “Daily Express” dated 10th January 2017. 

      b) The second investigation by a three member panel (Refer to Newspaper Article “Daily Express” dated 14th January 2017) was aborted midway having reached a stalemate when the Chairman and/or his attorneys refused or did not make himself available for any interview by the said panel on at least 2 scheduled dates. (Refer to Newspaper Article “Daily Express” dated 31st October 2017). The Chairman demanded that the complainant be cross examined; the complainant agreed on the condition that the Chairman reciprocate to be available to be cross examined. This never occurred. (Refer to Newspaper Article “Daily Express” dated 31st October 2017). 

      3) A closed third investigation was “conducted and completed” by a Retired Judge Rolston Nelson (J) without interviewing either complainant or accused. Justice Nelson also sits as the Government appointed Chairman of a State Company. (Refer to Newspaper Article “Daily Express” dated 31st October 2017). 

      4) The complainant submitted to a polygraph test to confirm the veracity of her allegations.  This test confirmed her account of the allegations of sexual harassment, the results of which were submitted to the Board of Angostura (Refer to Newspaper Article “Daily Express” dated 3rd January 2017). 

      5) The Board of Angostura accepted the report of Retired Justice Nelson and dismissed the complaint. (Refer to Newspaper Article “Daily Express” dated 31st October 2017). Questions have been posed as to whether only ‘Government appointed’ members of the Board of Angostura voted in favour of exoneration. 

      The Board of Angostura has refused to disclose to the complainant, the report of this third Nelson investigation. (Refer to Newspaper “Daily Express” dated 1st  November 2017).  After careful examination of these facts, one can raise a slew of anomalies and irregularities which arguably do not sync with the principles of natural justice, equity, good corporate governance and transparency.