There were five of us in the exercise therapy waiting room; the only male was, yes me, and the only black person was you guessed it-me. The small talk turned from health matters and whose knee no longer worked properly or whose elbow existed in name only to gender affairs and who should rule the world. It drifted from 21st century Michelle Obama being better than Barack to 15th century Joan of Arc braver than the French male generals at that time, also if elected Hillary Clinton will be a better President than Bill Clinton, and every other woman that showed or exercised power anywhere being better than their male counterparts everywhere.
Yet though crudely put, the women were composing a needed message. The age when women could not vote is passed and with new technology and easier access to schooling at all levels the time of the famous Sandy Posey song with the line, “A Single Girl Needs A Sweet Loving Man to Lean On,” is mostly gone. Indeed in a number of cases it is the single girl who supports and maintains the living of the sweet man whether a loving one or not. There are women who seem to be content to climb steps to get handouts and there are politicians who are happy to see them do that in exchange for votes and other things. In the main in the business of politics and political parties, women are seen only as voters. One local DLP politician even thought out loud calling the women supporters ‘sexy ladies’ a sexist remark which would have caused women in other lands to torch the place down.
The political system is a man thing. Women tactically refuse to join in the ‘mepwi festival’ that passes for political debate in our land. Yet if they want to change things they must be “in it to win it.” Even when the first female Prime Minister came to town the Eugenia Charles cabinet was largely male populated. Granted she dominated them and was given the gift moniker that all tough women in politics grudgingly receive from the men –“Iron Lady”. It’s as if the men are saying that a tough woman is a rare thing and if you find one you must define her with a slogan. The Speaker of the House who wants to sound tough with the male Opposition members in the House has been in that post since before some youth who are now teenagers were born but is mostly regarded as a puppet of the male Prime Minister. In the justice system though it is represented by an iconic image of a woman holding the scales of justice it is still a male dominated affair. When a woman is placed in a post of authority there is almost a feeling of surprise, surprise and a wooloo-woolah accompanied by perverse suggestions that she must be doing something underhand to get there. But women have had awesome power from the beginning of the Scriptures when we are told that a wimpy Adam surrendered his authority to Eve and then cowardly made an excuse to God, “The woman made me do it.” Women do have the power to make the men do it and change the world. It is that lever that God used to get Adam off his contented butt just eating free food, to work for his living gaining bread by the sweat of his brow.
However despite all the schooling and high tech advances it appears that the Women of Waitikubuli (WOW) prefer in the political system to be regarded as just voters who are happy to be called “sexy ladies” in sexy outfits for the enhancement of political rallies every five years. The WOW’s power is ignored because for the most part they prefer to remain silent on issues that affect them.
The sufferance that gets my attention is that women allow recalcitrant dads to get away paying just pathetic pittances to support their children and content to not pressure the politicians to increase the court ordered allowances to an amount more appropriate to the cost of raising a child today. When a woman who under the pressure of raising four children turned to the government for assistance she was publicly ridiculed on a radio talk show and derisively called a ‘baby machine’ by governing party agents and the women of Waitikubuli stayed silent. It seems they prefer to be referred to as giddy-eyed voters instead of making demands of those who come offering T-shirts and trinkets seeking their votes. In the case of legal justice women stay silent as they have mostly been when Greta Emmanuel an aged woman was firebombed in her home at Goodwill three years ago and despite a confession on police record no one has been made to pay for that to this day. When women are raped and abused it is mostly men who are on talk shows speaking out for them. When it comes to promotion within their workplace it is usually, “Later for the woman,” even though she performs to the same level as the male workers and but for space considerations I could go on and on.
I am heartened by the emergence of Monel Williams the United Workers Party candidate for the St Joseph constituency who stood among the heavyweights on a political platform and won the day with a speech like poetry in motion held together by its resounding chant, “For this cause I rise.” These words are now firmly placed in the ring of our politics forcing even trite responses from her political opponents. When the PM tried to ridicule her by calling her a, “half and half” candidate her response was powerful to the point of being deafening throwing down the gauntlet boldly and without compromise, “I am fully loaded.” The desire to diminish the importance of women is nothing new. The church denigrated the significance of Mary Magdalene in the life of Jesus by simply dismissing her as a prostitute. This fed their fanaticism for ‘men only’ priests. For centuries the fact that she was one of the ladies standing at the foot of the cross when the male supporters ran away and the first to report the resurrection of Jesus, “I have seen the Lord” did not even cause the righteous men in their nice holy robes to blink. The PM’s attempt to dismiss Monel simply backfired because this is not the time of Mary Magdalene. It is not her schooling and her good looks that make the difference as there are many women perhaps higher schooled and just as good looking but where are they? What makes Monel stand out is her strength of presence and a willingness to demonstrate that inner strength in the midst of the storm as if to portray the title of the Bishop T D Jakes bestselling book, ‘Woman thou art Loosed.’
We are now in the countdown to General Elections and so the time has come for the WOW to come forward and to raise their voices in the debate and the struggle to remake, reshape and renew, even redeem Waitikubuli for the sake of their children. As we look and see the children becoming criminals, drug abusers and undesirably psychopathic we should know that what is wrong with one can easily if unchecked be what happens to all and what you think is a ghetto problem becomes yours in your ivory tower. You can choose to hear no evil, see no evil and enjoy yourself but it is later than you think. This is the year for women to show that there is more depth to their political lives than waiting to be called, “sexy ladies Gee, Gee, Gee.” This is the time to resist intimidation be it political, social or carnal and stand up, stand out and be silent no more. History has shown that the call to do big things usually comes from the least among us- those born in animal feeding troughs called mangers and those who come from the loins of the rejected poor. Monel has given the call by which all the Women of Waitikubuli can begin to march with one voice, “For this cause I rise. For the sake of our children together we rise.”