Females rally around controversial sex song - Spark debate over 'bedroom power struggle'
After more than a week of being introduced to local airwaves, Ishawna's Equal Rights song is still a hot topic. Since its release on April 25, the song has dominated discussions within the dancehall space, with everyone from selectors to fellow artistes to columnists and the ordinary man weighing in on the song and the controversy it has sparked.
Ishawna has been trending across all the major social media platforms over the past few days and it seems like an end to the firestorm she has caused is nowhere in sight.
Socio-cultural analyst and lecturer at the University of the West Indies (Mona) Dr Donna Hope says that the discussion surrounding the song has taken on a life of its own because of the way the ideas surrounding the topic of 'oral sex' were
"I think because of the way she positioned the discussion in her song in terms of men giving and not them receiving, that has ruffled a lot of feathers. There is a certain amount of taboo when a woman who looks like Ishawna (she's a very beautiful girl) comes out and demands that she be given that type of sexual pleasure from a man.So the song presents a shift in the power dynamics," she explained. "The discussion has a lot to do with the kind of language that she used. She is demanding and insisting that as a woman, she deserves to get this, and a man should be willing to ensure that she is taken care of. Remember that the way oral sex is delivered the man would have to be kneeling."
Challenge to male identitiy
The male identity is very strong, and so the idea of 'bowing' has taken away from their power dynamic and who is in charge in the bedroom."
Hope pointed out that although the ideas presented by Ishawna in her song are not new, she explains that part of the discussion surrounds the artiste herself and her physical appearance.
"When women sing about giving it to men, they are subjecting themselves in a way that would be acceptable, and so women singing about giving it to men is fine because men are still in a dominant position. What Ishawna did was turn this thing over on its head, ripping away that power and being very vocal about it," she explained. "A lot of people have been trying to grapple with the idea that a woman who looks like her (pretty and sexy) would be demanding the sexual pleasure that she really should be giving. She should be the object of sexual pleasure. Remember that this discussion is not really about oral sex, innu. It's about masculinity and gender identity. Men have always been the dominant persons in these types of sexual discussions. A man's sexuality is also connected to sex; how he engages in sex, what kind of sex he engages in, etc. so we are okay with men receiving, but we are not okay with men giving."
Contrasts in time
Media personality, columnist, and sexologist Shelly-Ann Weeks agrees. Using Ce'Cile as an example, Weeks pointed out that although women have expressed their feelings about the oral sex issue before, the backlash with Ishawna has been amplified mainly because of the support it has been receiving from women.
"The song a get attention, it hot. So regardless of how you feel about the topic, you are hearing the song, and so it is sparking the conversation and a lot of women are coming out and saying, 'Of course...unu want to be the ones to get all the pleasure and we get what ?" Weeks said, explaining that the shift in power when it comes to who now controls the 'sex talk' is what is really causing the uproar.
"Women are becoming a lot more vocal, and that adds to the fact that men are talking about it and a say 'wah diss Ishawna go stir up', because now they are forced to have a conversation they've ignored for so long and even dismissed by saying 'badman don't bow', so the fact that they (the men) are forced to have this conversation is uncomfortable. When it comes to sexuality, a lot of people don't talk about their desires and what they want. Men assume that once they bring their penis, women will be satisfied because that is all they want, when the fact is, a lot of women have been going with the flow but are not satisfied with their sex lives."
Both Weeks and Hope pointed out that the backlash women have been receiving over the years and the fear men have of being stigmatised by coming out as a 'bowcat' will soon be a thing of the past, as the conversations surrounding sex and issues that seemed taboo are changing.
"I think things will eventually change because the conversations have already started to change. Once upon a time, bowing full stop was out, nobody nuh supposed to bow. But now men are openly saying 'this blow job thing is actually quite nice' and so I think the conversation will change over time," Weeks said.
"Shabba Ranks has a song called Dem Bow, 1990, if you listen to that song, all forms of sexual pleasure that were not about a man lying on top of a woman were taboo. A man getting oral sex was wrong, a man giving it was wrong, anal sex was wrong etc," Hope expressed. "The discussions evolved from nothing at all except a man and a woman lying down to where you have discussions about men receiving the pleasure and dem eye turning over. These are the times that we are now living in. We are now okay with men receiving publicly, but we are not okay with men giving. I believe that we will evolve with how repressive we are about certain things, but it that will take time."