STELLA Ramsaroop in her ‘Stella Says’ column on Sunday May 29th, titled “Serving alcohol at Feminition is like asking a woman to kiss a cutlass” makes a vacuous point, and in so doing, she has undermined the free choice of women.
One gets the impression that Stella is not up to date on women’s issues.
In Feminist discourse, a woman wants equality of being, and this assumes the ‘freedom’ to choose. For example, it is the woman’s right to abort the baby; for after all it is her body. Why must a man be allowed to drink indiscriminately, and not a woman? This is so for all facets of life. When a woman is curtailed in manners, dress, activities etc, she considers it gender discrimination, even if, many feel it is an overt attempt to shield her. She wants to shield herself. So alcohol at ‘Feminition’ is really a non- issue.
It is also a non-issue because alcohol is not debarred from women in Guyana.
Some may call it moral laxity, but women here can access the ‘Sheriff Street Joints,’ the ‘Chutney, Rap and Reggae Super Concerts’ and just about indulge and imbibe whenever and wherever they want. There is a feeling of social elevation for many of them in so doing. So in attempting to curb this desire (albeit for some, it is courting danger), they can feel inferior-they want it, and will have it. So yes, one can empathise with Stella. She really wants to help, and she is helping, but in this case, it might be better to ask how women in Guyana view the ‘drinking’ business.
The second point about the corollary of ‘drinking’ and ‘abuse’ must be elucidated a bit clearer.
The drinking binges by men, that in all likelihood redound in their battering of women is a fact of life. But one cannot understand how any kind of prohibition of alcohol at Feminition was/is going to undermine or send mixed messages regarding this mores in Guyana. In fact, alcohol (substance abuse on the whole) has been responsible for many other evils as well. In addition to spousal (namely women) abuse, one can add children abuse, accidents victims etc. However taking into consideration the ‘freedom to access’ which is so normal in Guyana, many countries do not allow children under 16 to purchase any kind of alcoholic beverage whatsoever. Also, in Guyana, many women are feeling the ‘need to catch up’ and be ‘modern’ and so they resort to the ‘substance’ and in so doing (many times, it results in their own demise).
In closing, it is good that Stella highlighted the collective and permanent benefits of Feminition. It has already inspired women to seek empowerment, and this is where the real struggle is. It is only when women can be valued equally as men that the problem of their abuse will start to be seriously combatted. This empowerment will come when ‘earning power’ comes their way, either via education or through special skills. After all, ‘money talks’ and this is why men ‘show off’ and ‘abuse’ at will. Women are prized possessions, and they must be legally and socially protected.