Sat | Sep 23, 2017

Gordon Robinson | Don't harass me about sexual harassment

Published:Sunday | October 9, 2016 | 10:30 AMGordon Robinson

For some reason, women won’t accept that men are different and seem intent, in the name of gender equality, on emasculating Jamaican men until they resemble their average American counterpart.
Today’s rant is prompted by that female fiction of recent vintage called ‘sexual harassment’. This linguistic paradox has spread uncontrollably until companies now hire sexual-harassment consultants and develop ‘sexual harassment protocols’.
My father’s generation believed women should remain in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. This chauvinistic ideal allowed those of us who believed (and practised) an alternative, more even-handed philosophy to be reasonably successful in the sexual games people play.
You want to help to mind your family.
You want to help your man financially
but nowadays it really very hard
to get a job as a girl in Trinidad.
You looking out to find something to do.
You meet a boss man who promise to help you
but when the man let down the condition,
nothing else but humiliation.
They want to see you whole anatomy.
They want to see weh yu doctor never see.
They want to do weh yu husband never do
still you ain't know if these scamps will hire you
As a young, impecunious lawyer, I married an international civil servant who earned more than I in tax-free US dollars. The Old Ball and Chain received her fair share of invitations to job interviews at male interviewers’ apartments after dark. She rejected all. At that international organisation, an African secretary general informed her of her extracurricular duties to him required by the job. She politely declined. One Indian supervisor used to summon her as “eeeh?” She quietly replied, “My name is Karen.”
Well, if is all this humiliation
to get a job these days as a woman.
Brother, they go keep they money
I go keep my honey
and die with my dignity!
If she’d allowed these uncomfortable demands and disrespectful behaviour to unbalance her, we probably wouldn’t own a home now. She paid the deposit from her ‘provident fund’ (forced savings) at work and the closing costs were borrowed (unsecured) from a friendly bank. 
It have a lot a women just like me
who might be not so well off financially.
You need a job and you really need it bad.
A man decide to help, you must feel glad
but, if you value yourself as a woman,
you will demand respect from di vagabond.
Stand up to them and let them know the truth:
is work you want, you ain’t no blinking prostitute.
You have a mole on you back they want to see;
they want to see if you have marks on yu belly.
They want to know how much man you had before
and if you strong enough to take any more
I have me pride and I have my ambition.
I want to hold me head up high as a woman.
So, brother, they go keep their money,
I go keep my honey and die with my dignity!
When the Ampersand was born, Old BC decided she wouldn’t work anymore because she wanted to bring up her own children. I wasn’t consulted. For many years, she was ridiculed by scornful career women who made other choices but, eventually, they’ve come around to admiring her and her seminal contribution to nation building, namely the Computer Whiz, the Ampersand, and SputNick.
A young lady recently on morning TV calling herself a sexual-harassment consultant made the Olympic linguistic gymnastics team trying to explain examples of ‘sexual harassment’. She conceded compliments were permissible depending, she earnestly advised, on “the totality of the circumstances”. The acid test was whether the woman felt “uncomfortable”.
Well, blow me down (please) and kiss my rungus kungus mi nungus! Here’s where I lose my last two female readers. Testosterone will always ensure most men are sexual aggressors. That’s God’s work, and woman won’t stop it, no matter how many ‘new rules’ she passes.
Every man, some more skilfully than others, has an unconditional right to beg women for sex. Since 30 per cent of human life is spent at work, where else are you more likely to find a life (or casual) partner? The flip side is, women have an equal right to refuse. Only where the man takes it further should he be accused of ‘harassment’.
Some a dem done park up already
yet they sit down waiting like mapipi.
Using the power of dey cash and position
waiting to abuse and exploit any woman.
To get to work, you have to go to bed with he;
become slave, second wife and deputy.
And as a next woman come on di line
he start to tell you you ain't good, you can't wine
They want to see you in a fancy-fancy pose.
They want to see how you look without you clothes.
They want you cock up like a bloody acrobat.
They wife at home they can't ask she to do that
Years ago, Old BC, with young boys in tow, wearing jeans and a modest top, pulled up to her regular petrol pump. Her usual attendant was filling the tank when a minibus pulled up alongside. The conductor leaned out, leered down at her through her untinted driver’s window, and shouted a most graphic ‘compliment’ on the appearance of her most private parts.
She was incensed at the crudeness of the approach, but more at the gas station attendant who allowed it to pass without retort of any kind. She took the view that she was someone he knew (a regular customer), not a stranger, and he should have defended her. I asked how’d she expect the attendant to defend her? Challenge the ’ductor to a duel at dawn? Or, maybe express a contrary opinion to the ’ductor in equally graphic terms? To her credit, she never referred to the incident as ‘sexual harassment’.
So before I have to lick down somebody
or cuss and let de police come for me.
I tell them they could keep their money
I go keep my honey
and die with my dignity!
As a young lawyer, I’d complain bitterly when clients started calling at 7 a.m. and never stopped until 10 p.m. I railed against the harassment. Old BC’s reply: “It’s when the phone stops ringing you need to worry.”
I’m not a fan of ‘modern’ soca (post-Saltfish), so Sandra DesVignes-Millington (‘Singing Sandra’) didn’t enter my orbit until Reggae Sunsplash 1992. In 1999, she became only the second woman to win T&T’s Calypso Monarch title. In 2003, she eclipsed the great Calypso Rose by winning again. Her seminal work, Die with my Dignity, has become an anthem for Caribbean women having to deal with obtuse, crass, narcissistic male employers who Sandra called ‘mapipi’ (Trinidadian slang for very promiscuous woman).
Her point was that the boss men were themselves acting more like the prostitutes they expected the female employees to be. But the song is more of a call to arms (encouraging her fellow women to stand up for themselves) than a futile attempt to prevent men from being men.
… but, if you value yourself as a woman,
you will demand respect from di vagabond.
Stand up to them and let them know the truth:
is work you want, you ain’t no blinking prostitute”
Sexual-harassment consultants, get a life! Men will forever ask women for sex. All women can insist on is some class. If, instead, they encourage today’s ‘drop yu baggy, gyal’ artistes with ‘ba**y-jigging’ salutes, classy requests will gradually diminish until they disappear up Gage’s “long treetop”!
Peace and love.
  - Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.