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Dear Editor: PNM’s race-tinged ‘sari skit’ was exploited by gender feminists and critics too

“[…] The sari skit is also being used by the gender feminists—who must be distinguished from equity feminists and women’s activists—to drum up support for their cause.

“Just like the politicians using race codes, this brand of feminist wants to create fear, with men as the demonised group, by raising alarums about “rape culture”—never mind that in the skit the woman at the centre was happily dancing as she was disrobed, so there was never any hint of violence or force.”

In the following Letter to the Editor, Kevin Baldeosingh suggests that the PNM’s controversial sari skit—which Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley apologised for—has been exploited for mileage by several groups in civil society:

Photo: PNM gorillas disrobe a female UNC supporter during the infamous sari skit at the party’s 2018 Family Day.

The now infamous sari skit has provided a convenient vehicle for certain groups to push their self-promoting agendas under the guise of moral condemnation.

PNM leader Keith Rowley has now apologised, but the fact is that the skit was part and parcel of the PNM’s political strategy to reinforce its base, using race as the tool. This is why, even in his Emancipation Day statement, Dr Rowley made a seemingly gratuitous reference to persons who equate the oppression of indentureship with that of slavery.

Significantly, shoring up grassroots support through race is a standard tactic when a party expects to lose an upcoming election. The UNC also employed this strategy in the run-up to the 2015 election, most blatantly when that party sent Vernella Alleyne-Toppin into Parliament to tell a baseless and reprehensible story of rape centred around Dr Rowley.

In this context it must be emphasised that politicians, second only to business people, always try to do what people want. That is to say, in the same way that a business will not make a profit unless it provides goods and services that people will pay for, politicians will not win elections unless they do what voters want.

So when politicians use race to win votes, it’s because they know a significant majority of citizens find that appealing.

Photo: Then Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (left) shakes hands with her successor, Dr Keith Rowley, en route to Nelson Mandela’s funeral in South Africa.
(Courtesy News.Gov.TT)

In similar fashion, the sari skit is also being used by the gender feminists—who must be distinguished from equity feminists and women’s activists—to drum up support for their cause.

Just like the politicians using race codes, this brand of feminist wants to create fear, with men as the demonised group, by raising alarums about “rape culture”—never mind that in the skit the woman at the centre was happily dancing as she was disrobed, so there was never any hint of violence or force. But gender feminists cannot see it that way, since to them all men are “potential rapists”.

Finally, the media has had a field day with this supposedly racial issue, even though the newspapers, and talk radio in particular, always give space to individuals with racial agendas. Because, as with the politicians, editors know that such stories and commentaries have a rapt audience in this place.

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