The lyrics of our songs, the way we dance, our way of dressing, of speaking, , and now the images we use to advertise a simple dance or beach picnic all increasingly express this lack of any moral or ethical code. Since returning to Nevis in 2008, I have been shocked by the advertisements for dances or “bashes” pasted on billboards, lampposts, and shop windows around Charlestown and elsewhere in the island. Such posters never existed in the Nevis I left behind at the end of the 1980s.
What shocks me is the way women are being used in these posters to seemingly attract (what kind of?) men to these events. Instead of advertisements portraying musicians or dancers simply having a good time, these posters show women in what can only be described as softcore pornographic postures. Why on earth is it necessary to use these degrading images of women to attract people to a dance? What reputation do they give the venue where such events are being held? Do they reflect what actually takes place at these events? These events are targeting our youth, this is where they go at weekends, do we feel happy to know our teenagers are attending functions thus advertised? Is this the image we want to project of our young women? Is this image they wish to portray of themselves?
What is particularly disturbing is that these images are designed and generated mainly by men. Such men clearly have a very distorted view of the opposite sex. It’s time we women, of whatever age speak out against this invasive and harmful trend which like so much else in our society has just been adopted, ape-like and unquestioningly from other cultures. Are we sponges, just soaking up whatever filth comes our way.
Most of us passively observe these offensive posters. Some of us are angry but we don’t react outwardly, maybe suck our teeth or turn our children’s heads away as we pass them. As Easter approaches there has been a callous upsurge of these images pasted around town, including the most explicit and vulgar ones I have seen to date: “Aires Bash”, “Easter Sunday Fest”, “Heels On”, etc. Is this the message we are happy to spread at Easter time.
Why have we become so passive in the face of this invasion of negative values in our culture? These images prevail on the internet, in the lyrics of dancehall and soca, and in the way many young women and girls are now prepared to dress. But we do not have to accept them in our streets and shop windows; we can refute and denounce them. Our children’s eyes and minds should not be tainted by these sick images of “womanhood”. They help explain why we continue to raise young men who grow up to disrespect and abuse women, why our girls increasingly seem to have no sense of pride or self-worth, why they increasingly fall into the trap of seeing themselves as purely sex objects. Why do we bother to march on International Women’s Day and yet allow these repugnant posters to be splayed all over our beautiful town? We are faced in Nevis with increasing cases of incest, child molestation, rape and sexual abuse, yet we claim to be surprised and shocked when these crimes take place. Sadly the negative values which have invaded our society are ensuring that these cases grow and become the norm.
I am personally sickened by these posters and call on all women and girls in Nevis, as well as men who have a genuine respect for women and for themselves, to demand that they be stopped. We should not accept them. How can we explain them to our children? Men do not portray themselves in this fashion. Is this how they want their wives, girlfriends and daughters, even their mothers, to be seen? Do men despise women so much? And do we women, too, despise ourselves since we seem prepared to accept these images without a murmur?