Wed | Jul 8, 2020

Double standards? - Women criticised for clashing

Published:Friday | January 11, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Tony Matterhorn

Professor Donna Hope has again highlighted the gender-bias in the entertainment industry even as she contends that the negative attitudes towards female artistes engaging in lyrical battles are of their own making.

“There are different rules for women and men in dancehall. It always has been, and, maybe, always will be (this way). People expect them (women) to take the high road, and I don’t know why,” Hope said in an interview with The Sunday Gleaner about the attitudes towards women engaging in lyrical battles.

The entertainment expert’s comments came against the background of Spice being engaged in a social-media tussle with several females, chief among them D’Angel.

“When male artistes are clashing, we would normally have people looking out for the lyrics and the songs, but when female artistes clash, nobody is really focused on the songs they will possibly put out. They are more concerned about how they sound and how they look in a ‘war’,” Hope said.

“Take Spice, for instance. For her to have achieved what she has in the business, she would have had to be a very tough individual. She’s not going to be an easy person to walk over, and in this business you need that,” Hope said.

“But even though we understand that dancehall is a tough space, people are still going to expect women to look the other way because while they are dancehall artistes, they still live in the world where people have this expectation that women shouldn’t engage in certain things or behave a certain way,” Hope added.

Spice, a hard-core dancehall artiste, has said that being aggressive is part of the job description.

“Dancehall is an aggressive genre. A lot of people don’t know that. It is not Christianity! It has nothing to do with gospel. People would ask, ‘Why are you so aggressive?’, but that’s how I get to become the performer that I am,” said Spice.

Going Overboard

Popular dancehall selector Tony Matterhorn said that while women should be allowed to express themselves freely in duels, their confrontations are usually frowned upon because they tend to take things overboard.

“People weh clash do it as a sport, but some a dem woman yah nah do it as a sport. Dem a do it outta personal grudge and hate. The reason why people will quicker fi say done when two females ah argue is because dem overdo it,” Matterhorn said.

“Men rarely overdue it! Dem will argue, yes, but dem nah go overboard. Woman can clash, but the levels weh dem ago wah take it to try outdo the next person is almost like dem a go the extra mile to try destroy the person dem a go against,” he added.

Hope said that once females are able to move away from and beyond the ‘tracing match’ when they are engaged in lyrical feuds, they would get more respect from onlookers.

“Maybe one reason why people don’t want to see the women clashing is because they’re going on Instagram and engaging in a tracing match. What we, the fans of dancehall music, want to see is a lyrical clash. Give us some songs. Show us what you’re made of through your lyrical skills,” she said.


Hope said that duels involving female artistes could benefit a lot of people.

“If the clash means that people are going to go out and build new lyrics, one may have to get a writer. You have to get a producer, someone to build a riddim, perhaps, and so everyone benefits. We, as fans, will also benefit because we will get songs that are carefully constructed and not just somebody singing about dem body parts and who can hold dem man, which is a lot of what you’re getting right now,” Hope said.

“I’m encouraging all the artistes she (Spice) mentioned to come out of the woodworks, put out a proper song, and answer Spice. What you should avoid is a verbal confrontation or the social media back-and-forth, but don’t look at it as feeding into negativity. It’s an opportunity. There’s a level of visibility to be had from this that you can’t buy,” she advised.