This International Women's Day, the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts has invited members of the public to participate in an important lecture to address the problem of gender imbalances that occur in contemporary society.
"It's an important dialogue that we need to have, to look at the gender imbalances that occur not only in an art piece or creative industry but generally in Jamaica and the world at large. This lecture brings together a set of understanding and addresses how we go forward from there," Keino Senior, coordinator of the lecture, told The Gleaner.
The lecture is held every year in honour of Edna Manley and her contribution to the culture in general. Each year a keynote speaker is selected.
This year's keynote speaker is Carolyn Cooper, professor of Literary and Cultural Studies at UWI Mona and Founder of the Global Reggae Studies Centre. The theme for the lecture is 'Who's in charge of the Rompin Shop?: Sexual politics in Jamaican Dancehall Culture'.
"If they are interested in Jamaican popular music, gender issues, sexuality and how it's represented in Jamaica and the dancehall culture, then they should come and hear what I have to say," Cooper told The Gleaner yesterday. "They may not agree with me, but at least we can have a nice conversation on those matters."
She added: "I tried to get a title that would attract people's interests and I am obviously playing with that song by Vybz Kartel and Spice. I'm using it as a metaphor for sexuality. When I ask who is in charge of the 'rompin' shop', I am thinking of it being a space and we are asking if it is the woman who has the upper hand in the shop or if it is the man. I am arguing that perhaps the roles keep shifting."
Cooper also stressed the importance of the lecture as International Women's Day traditionally teaches people to reflect on the empowerment of women and the struggles that they have been through.
"Many times when people think of dancehall, they think of it as a space where women are sexually exploited by men," Cooper said.
"I try to see dancehall more positively as a space in which women express their sexuality, the way they dress and so on. Yes, it is to attract male attention, but they get pleasure in dressing up themselves in ways that they consider sexy," she added.
The fourth staging of the Women's Day Lecture will take place tomorrow at the Vera Moody Concert Hall on the compound. It will commence at 6 p.m.