“Haters gonna hate” is the thought that comes to mind as the opportunistic warriors of both political parties spar over the Darryl Smith “sex scandal”. They do not spend a moment to ensure our women are protected, and to voice disgust at the cavalier use of the continued suffering of Carrie-Ann Moreau—the current face of violence against women.
Influential people have real potential to wreak lifelong havoc on women. The offending men bounce back quickly, even as the damaged women disappear into the darkness.
MP Smith was present and smiling with his leader at the opening of the Diego Martin walkover, and former MP Glenn Ramadharsingh has been rehabilitated and given a chairmanship in his leader’s constituency. Woman is not boss!
Sexual harassment is on the continuum of men’s violence against women as a cause and consequence of gender inequality. It is more than just sexual, but it’s the putting of women “in their place”.
We have not moved away from the girlie calendars that adorned walls as we persist in rejecting progress. We should resist the suggestion that it is an innocent complimentary remark; it is not. It is uniquely gendered. Why do men not tell their peers how good their private parts look in their pants?
Scandals do not appear out of nowhere; somebody chooses not to speak up. Somebody chooses to curry favour with the offender rather than to protect the company or the country.
Sadly, in this specific case, there were facilitating women, at several levels, who benefited from turning a blind eye to the alleged behaviour of the minister. Because of the lack of an enabling network and against a powerful male cabal, Ms Moreau, with inferior advice, did not get the compensation she deserved for the lonely pain she suffered.
As the three-woman investigating committee found out, to its chagrin, at the end you can be thrown under the bus. Man bestows, man takes away. This is not the first time. Remember the Mahabir-Wyatt committee at Angostura? Wordlessly, they were shunted into the wings while the men “fixed” the problem.
The lesson? You, as a woman, are dispensable, not an equal. Make the coffee and look pretty.
All men benefit from being men. Their access to power, privilege and scarce resources is enhanced by their biological identity despite the scientific facts that there are no gender differences in intelligence or ability or thinking capacity.
Men protect their rights, both as individuals and in groups, as they preserve and extend their control over women. Men seldom confront men, but usually make excuses while they laughingly try to induce compliance.
Women need to recognise this and stand with each other and against bigotry. Elma Francois and Jacqueline Creft are exemplars. Neither were man haters.
Laws are necessary, but are not sufficient. If they were, then spousal murders would have been history since our proclamation of the Domestic Violence Act and restraining orders. Our country is a signatory to the Beijing Declaration, and a third of our MPs are women. What we lack is institutional will to confront malefactions.