The Reeducation of Our Prime Minister

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
October 30, 2017

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeIn terms of native intelligence and intellectual brilliance, Keith Rowley is among the top three people who have held the prime ministerial office since independence. The same cannot be said of how he applies these talents to his present office. These attributes were on display when he was the leader of the opposition; now they have faded. Each office brings different challenges. A person may be successful in one and a dismal failure in the other.

No one knows everything. Each office presents itself as a learning experience. Charles Darwin intimated in The Origin of Species that we either adapt to our natural (and by extension, our social) environment or we die. Since we each bring our past cultural and social baggage to any office we hold, it is appropriate to cultivate the intelligences so that we do and say what’s right.

In spite of his intellectual gifts, the PM is deficient in his understanding of gender relations in the contemporary era. The World Health Organization defines gender relations as “socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.” In my mind, the PM continues to view women as many men saw them fifty years ago. At that time, we called the PNM Women’s League “the fat ass brigade.”

The PM’s gender blindness stems from the shortcomings of his formal and informal education. Both of us were brought up in a patriarchal culture that objectified and diminished women. It is not that we didn’t see women as strong beings; we failed to see them as equals.

The PM’s latest faux pas occurred when he said: “A golf course is like a woman, so you have to groom her every day otherwise it turns into a pasture.” Even his syntactical construction reveals how his mind works. He compares a woman to an object, likens her attributes to those of a golf course, and concludes that she, now an it, has to be groomed to be complete. Otherwise, he says, she is turned into a pasture or perhaps she can then be “put out to pasture.” Any way one puts it, the result is the same: a woman is of no value after she has been used and abused by men.

If this were the PM’s only faux pas with regard to his depiction of women, one could have accused him of having a gendered foot and mouth disease and move on. Unfortunately, since becoming prime minister he has displayed a continuing tendency to reduce women to objects that have no agency. Indira Rampersad has documented the frequency with which the PM said demeaning things about women and why he might have done so (Express, October 21).

The prime minister and I are about the same age. We grew up in a world that held negative stereotypes about women even though we admired the strength of our mothers and foremothers. It is noteworthy that our PM identified his grandfather as a tower of strength who instilled in him the manly values that make him who he is today.

The world that made the prime minister and me had some horrible misogynist tendencies. Some women even believed these negative notions about themselves. Many men reduced women to their private parts. Some women have even said, “If yo’ don’t beat ma, yo don’t love me.”

These psychologically contorted ways in which we engaged one another seared our psyche. It will take a lifetime of education and practice for men to respond to women as fully constituted human beings worthy of respect. Some of us try to do the right thing but we know we still have a long way to go. Becoming feminists is a difficult thing for men to do.

Teaching at a women’s college for the past 31 years has made me aware of men’s shortcomings and convinced me that we all need to work harder to eliminate the demeaning ways in which we see women.

Men of my generation—and younger men—must resist the tendency to objectify and disrespect women. The PM must recognize this lacuna in his educational armor before he can overcome his shortcoming. As difficult as it might be, apologizing to women for the hurt he has caused them is an important first step. He should not join the bandwagon of what Paul Krugman calls “Trumpal infallibility,” an age “ruled by men who never admit error, never apologize and, crucially, never learn from their mistakes.…Men who think admitting error makes you look weak just keep making bigger mistakes; delusions of infallibility eventually lead to disaster” (New York Times, October 23).

Anna J. Cooper, an enslaved woman, argued that a civilization should be measured by how it treats its women. She advised, “Only the Black Woman can say ‘when and where I enter, in the quiet dignity of my womanhood, without violence and without suing or special patronage, then and there the whole Negro race enters with me.‘”

All men, especially the PM, should dedicate themselves to respecting women. We must be skeptical of a network of enablers that reinforces our bad behavior. To do so, we must reeducate ourselves in gender relations.

16 thoughts on “The Reeducation of Our Prime Minister”

  1. This is a very articulated discourse, that is lacking a woman’s input. Where is the woman’s voice on this gender matter? Dr Rowley is a product of his environment, and as i have said in a previous comment, we have not yet evolve into accepting the woman in her true aspects. Now , the American women’ struggle for equality over the last 50yrs, have left a bitter taste on the tongue of every one concerned, i’m in no way going to bat on Dr Rowley’ behalf, but in truity? the cultures are greatly different. In the USA today, a man has to be very careful in what he says or do in the presence of a woman, sexual misconduct could mean the slightest of what we take for granted in Trinidad. the political appeal of feminism, with the exception of the USA in particular, do not have the same effect in other world countries. Depending on where you go, the issue on the treatment of women, varies greatly. China, the worlds most populated state, just elected their political hierarchy, not a woman was elevated to the higher echelons, while in caribbean Jamaica, we have the highest women managers per capita, in the world.Depending where you are, it seems women power holds sway, Angela Merkel, in Germany is the worlds most powerful woman, does it reflect in her country? culture still plays a major part in European societies. In Trinidad, woman is carnival, and vici versa, this is a total different ball game, the interactions have crept into every day life, relegating into nonentity, every aspect of respect, is this right? do we need a new precedent of transformation culturally vis-a-vis our women? my answer is in the positive, a nations progress will reflect in the way women are treated, Women need to change the way they are perceived,the message being sent in most cases, undermines the supposedly treasured values of the woman. The black woman and other women of Trinidad, have lost the quiet dignity of their womanhood, slavery and indentureship, have in most cases relegate our women into nothingness, the entire American hemisphere, is the gaging factor.

  2. Professor, you leave me perplexed with your assumptions that Dr. Rowley’s attitude towards women is somehow chauvinistic. On one hand, I applaud your work as scholarly, taking into account man’s historical attitudes and character has dominated women. While on the other, I find it somewhat offensive towards the maintenance of manhood and man’s continued partnership with women. This is not a case of either or, there must be a line that keeps the male/female relationship cohesive and productive at the same time.

    I find it overly extensive when you claim
    “The PM’s gender blindness stems from the shortcomings of his formal and informal education.” Using the word ‘informal’ in that respect, you lend credence to his political enemies who even see his blackness as offensive. And that is troubling. This argument can take us into the male/female phenomenon, where political exchanges can be heated. It is in this area Dr. Rowley becomes vulnerable, where his detractors become emboldened to accuse him of sexual insensitivity and chauvinism. Nothing is said of the women who use the occasion to overplay his maleness. And this is where I believe that you are not fair to him.

    When we consider gender respectability, it must be balanced, thoughtful and neutral. Meaning that, that imaginary line drawn, where men in their interactions with women, must not be seen and interpreted as sexual, predatory or bossy. While on the other hand, women should not always see the display of the alpha male’s sexuality as being chauvinistic. The problem that exists today is that, in all the arguments put forward we (men and women) tend to lean heavily on one side or the other. It would be fair to say, that in all our calculations and working towards FairPlay and respectability, we are still looking for ways and means to find proper behavior between men and women. In that respect, it can be argued with a fair amount of assumptions, that Dr. Rowley’s attitude, in using the grooming analogy can and must be seen as cultural or generational but not necessarily chauvinistic.

    I wish to respond to your statement:
    “Teaching at a women’s college for the past 31 years has made me aware of men’s shortcomings and convinced me that we all need to work harder to eliminate the demeaning ways in which we see women.”
    by drawing your attention to an article written in the Daily Caller by one Eric Owens, Education Editor on what I consider ‘going too far’ by emasculating the male or manhood in order to be seen as non chauvinistic. I quote in part:

    “Hillary Clinton’s All-Female Alma Mater Will Now Admit CROSS-DRESSING DUDES”

    Photo of Eric Owens
    Education Editor
    9:08 AM 03/07/2015

    Wellesley College, the fancypants alma mater of scandal-ridden Democrat Hillary Clinton, announced on Thursday that it will now consider the applications of male students who have male genitalia as long as they dress, act and really feel like women.
    The all-female, $59,038-per-year school will begin considering taking such transgender applications for students who graduate high school next spring.

    “Wellesley will consider for admission any applicant who lives as a woman and consistently identifies as a woman,” school president H. Kim Bottomly and trustee Laura Daigault Gates explained in a letter.”

    Professor, this is your College where you work. While it may be considered by some as being liberal, I consider it an overreach towards man’s masculinity.

  3. “In terms of native intelligence and intellectual brilliance, Keith Rowley is among the top three people who have held the prime ministerial office since independence”(CUDJOE)

    There really is no evidence to support or prove this flawed deduction.His biography, published recently,is no artful,intellectual demonstration.The acquisition of university degrees is no indicator of intellectual brilliance or high IQ.
    His stewardship as PM shows a dependency on other figures in his Cabinet to lead and champion ideas and legislation. His speeches in and out of Parliament are often crude attempts to placate and appeal to the base. His recurring comments on women show the inability to climb out of his inadequate upbringing and adapt to modern times.
    The conclusion that his “native intelligence and intellectual brilliance” is somehow superior to all other prime ministers except two is false,unsupported by any empirical data, supporting points, examples, biographical information, evidence or information.

    Rowley is no ERIC Williams!

  4. One can have his own opinions, but one CANNOT claim his own facts. It so happen that facts, no matter how elusive, will always remain true to its status. There are those who think that by expressing negative name calling towards Dr. Rowley, makes him (Dr. Rowley), the caricature of the negatives they perceive him to be. In so doing, their arguments become stigmatized versions of their auditory processing senses. This makes their arguments devoid of any substance.

    There are bright people who bring substance and intelligent information to this thread and when they do, it is refreshing to share in the discourse. This subject matter, while focused on Dr. Rowley is really multi-dimensional and when we loose sight of facts, it weakens the best possible spin you can put forward.

  5. The PM comments will not change in fact over time it may get worst. Dr. Rowley has had two illegitimate children who have stepped forward, there may be others who perhaps one day will emerge from out of the shadows.

    Dr. Rowley comes from an era that is quickly disappearing. Men of that era understood that a woman place was in bed or taking care of her man. If she rise to a position of power they assume she slept her way to the top. The men in that era had a mental and emotional disconnect from women. They were the bread winners and therefore held strict control over the women. They saw women as sex objects and took every opportunity to demonstrate their manhood. These men are hunters and exploiters of a woman vulnerabilities.

    I do know of few men from that era of that ilk. One is close to me, married twice but have 6 children for diffrent women. Even seducing a young lady who was about 30 years his junior. He once told me what is marriage but a piece of paper, if I see an attractive woman even if she is married I will pursue her. Then there is the other one up in his 70s who do not miss a moment to tell younger women even if they are married, how beautiful they are. He is a quintessential flirter. He prowls around like a starving hyena looking for vulnerable prey. The sad part about this is the women do not find his comments appealing but do not know how to tell him get lost. They get busy when he is around knowing he is looking for an opportunity to inject his lustful heart on them.

    The long and short of it, such men do not change but well into their old age they are looking for someone to poison.

    1. Mammo wrote:
      ‘The PM comments will not change in fact over time it may get worst. Dr. Rowley has had two illegitimate children who have stepped forward, there may be others who perhaps one day will emerge from out of the shadows.’

      Aye Mammo, is this what they are holding on him, while we sit back and watch this UNC ‘B’ team continue to reap more than they have planted? Yet, all the influential continue to say nothing..
      This is what happens when you give fascist control of your intelligence services for 5 years and 3 months..

      Just look at that picture.. It is only missing Kamla.. Stuppes..

      1. RamK as usual you off topic again. Please stop insulting the prof by adding all this nonsense. Let’s have an intelligent discussion. Seeing the all past PNM prime ministers died at age 69, do you think Rowley will hit 70? Some say is a pact Eric made with Lucifer through the Roseecusion movement for power! What are your thoughts!

        And please stick to topic.

        1. Well Mammo, once he can stay away from those Trini Hospitals, I guess he stand a good chance of NOT ending up at Walter Reed Military Hospital (#1 in the world for treating bio/germ warfare victims) as Mr. Manning did after being treated at Sando hospital..And Mammo, how did he get admitted there.. as it is a hospital for ONLY active and veterans of the US military… with FEW exceptions..

          Why won’t they take the bull by the horn and FIX the problem with the medical Inst. only flying out to be treated..

          Talking about off topic Mammo.. can you decipher this story in The Express. Ah mean, the Prof is familiar with how universities are run.. make yuh wonder how many of them ‘had the link’ and have we calling them Doctor or Lawyer… And never went to classes?

          Kimberly’s secret life revealed after suicide
          Published on Oct 31, 2017, 10:30 am AST
          By Sandhya Santoo Multimedia Desk

  6. It is unfortunate that closet psychologists and unheralded wannabe journalists act and write as though they have the patent to Dr Rowley’s psychological dna. Some of the twisted accusations they Dr Rowley got critisef for for him earning abused women that they should have better choices in the men they chose. Most fair minded people would agree with such advice. But those who would never support him, even in the best of conditions, insist that he is insensitive.

    It is obvious that the blackness of Dr Rowley’s skin still provoke anger and hate from his enemies. It is no wonder just the mention of his name is anathema to the most considerate thing one can expect from them.

  7. Correction; “they Dr Rowley got critisef for for him earning”

    Should read: “that Dr Rowley got criticized for was warning”

  8. I have read and re-read Dr. Cudjoe’s article to gauge my reaction to his comments. The more I digest it, more questions appear imminent on the conclusions drawn by Dr. Cudjoe as it relates to Trinidad and Tobago’s culture and society. There is justification for his conclusions if we are to consider his observations based on universally accepted norms on how women should be treated. But, we are talking about the women of Trinidad and Tobago, whose behavior vis a vis the women’s movement do not conform to the same beliefs held by the American women’s movement. This is where Dr. Cudjoe failed to enlighten us. I am willing to put my bet on Dr. Rowley’s understanding of the Trinidad and Tobago’s woman than that articulated by Dr. Cudjoe.

    In Trinidad and Tobago, we are emerging from antiquated views of women to one that is supposedly enlightened by the women’s movement in the United States. For example, the African woman while deemed “the weaker sex”, has always been the “strength” of the family structure. Although dominated by the men, they literally hold the family together. The make the decisions on who they want to partner with. The opposite is true with the hindu woman, whose fate its usually sealed by the elders at a very early age. This makes her bargaining ability vulnerable when making family decisions because it is a male dominated culture. The women in the Chinese culture is almost unheard of in our society. The western and European women have many advantages that the other women do not have or enjoy and this is where Dr. Cudjoe based most of his assumptions.

    Dr. Rowley understands the pulse of the Trinidad woman, because most of our women are still far behind in understanding and accepting the freedoms to which the women’s movement is addressing and aspiring towards. The politically active and upwardly mobile women are in touch with the advances of the women’s movement and as such are quick to respond to any breaches by their male counterparts. But their numbers are not in the majority. They represent a mere ten percent or so of the population, while the majority of our women folks are subject to the treatment of men, who themselves need to upgrade their understanding of family life and how to treat their women. This is what Dr. Rowley understands and he lets it be known to our women, when they lack the initiative to understand when they do not live up to expectations.

    In conclusion, it is my view that Dr. Cudjoe has failed to mention this reality, where our women folk is not on par with their American counterparts. He opted to address the issue as though our women folks have reached the enlightened standard of their counterparts in Europe and America. This argument cannot be seen as fair, because it was written for the universal woman and neglected to consider the reality of most of our woman folks.

  9. Attributing native intelligence and intellectual brilliance to PM Rowley and complaining that both has faded is pure foolishness on the part of Cudjoe. Either you had it or does not have it but it cannot just fade away when tested and tried. I understand Cudjoe’s tribal loyalty and solidarity with one who is an affront to the dignity of diverse T&T and displays his insularity and lack of intellectualism. He is just too politically immature and whenever he returns from abroad lack of oxygen inhibits his pronouncements. Pray Cudjoe tell me a few examples where he displayed any level of intelligence and/or brilliance if not rabble rousing. His negative attitude to women is deeply ingrained and we must save our women-folk from him. It is not cosmetic nor accidental nor incidental.As far as I am concerned the single parent African woman brings up the family and the off-springs usually adore their mothers so where does this anti-woman obsession comes from? Answer me Cudjoe! Answer! Do not peddle falsehoods and misinformation because you have a column. Write what can stand up to scrutiny and analysis.

    1. Good one Steven. I think Cudjoe will not respond because he agrees with you. When are you writing your book Stephen. Let us know I would like to have a copy.

  10. Stephen Kangal, you may have to get off Dr Cujoe’ back, the professor may have missed the cultural aspect of our emerging society, but that gives you no right whatsoever to twist and add your innuendo’. ” Indentured Indian Women In Colonial Guyana, Recruitment, migration, Labor and Caste. By Moses Seenarine. would give you a clear insight before writing your continued garbage.Now, let us explore Hindu Ideology and the male control over the women, is she not an abused woman in most cases? Male control over economic resources,political,religious and cultural institutions, are your eyes covered Kangal? where is your own intelligence? you need to be refuted and rebuked. Of all the G20 nations,India have been labelled the worst place to be a woman, In the last 30yrs, 12 million girls have been aborted, over 10 million or more women have been killed or murdered, is there a difference in Trinidad? the topic is the treatment of women in Trinidad, check your inner circle or your wider community and stop hiding the facts. Keep the African woman out yuh mouth.

    1. I see that you cannot negotiate nor treat with the truth even when I praise the single African woman as head of the household when errant men abandon their duty to care for their children

  11. “In terms of native intelligence and intellectual brilliance, Keith Rowley is among the top three people”

    This was the way Dr. Cudjoe described the brilliance of Dr. Keith Rowley, who by profession is a geologist and holding a Phd.
    That description has ignited the wrath of some members of our blogging community, not because the description is true, but because they are so idiomatic in their denunciation of this black man as Prime Minister, they will rather use untrue descriptions that suit their hatred for him.

    Lets take a sober look at how some of these people view that statement:

    TMan: 1. “There really is no evidence to support or prove this flawed deduction”.

    TMan: 2. “His stewardship as PM shows a dependency on other figures in his Cabinet to lead and champion ideas and legislation.”

    Mamoo: 1. “Dr. Rowley has had two illegitimate children who have stepped forward, there may be others who perhaps one day will emerge from out of the shadows.”

    Kangal: 1. “Attributing native intelligence and intellectual brilliance to PM Rowley and complaining that both has faded is pure foolishness”

    It is obvious that these individuals will run away from truth, even if it comes from the the actions of Dr. Rowley. Such is the evils of hate. It has no reason and has no bounds, because the intent is to decertify in whatever way possible.

    All these people claim to be “intelligent” but their intelligence only leads them to what “THEY” think is intelligent.

    Let us view TMan(1): If that answer is deserved because of the prime minister’s golf course analogy; then the use of the word “intelligence” by TMan is mis-appropriated. Foolish!!!

    TMan(2): If after succeeding a government that used up ALL of the government’s reserves; maximizing all of the government’s credit worthiness; heavily indebted with less than three months worth of resources to pay it’s debts; every single department of government in shambles and a lot of unfinished projects unfinished without finances to complete them and an unhappy public, makes for him “a dependency on other figures in his Cabinet to lead and champion ideas and legislation”, then he is really doing his job as the Prime Minister. Considering, with all that he inherited, he is yet to order mass lay-offs and holding to the current valuation of the TTdollar! That is fantastic!!!!!

    Mamoo(1): Well Mamoo – Dr. Rowley is a real man with flaws as the majority of men, he cannot be perfect but he took care of his children. At least he did not purchase a house for his lover and made sure she lives next to him. A very foolish thought!

    Kangal(1): Attributing the labels intelligent, brilliant and intellectual to Dr. Rowley is anathema to Kangal. He is so furious that one would be so foolish to describe Dr. Rowley as such, it defies reason – yeah right. What intelligent man, who represented us in foreign service abroad would be so blinded?
    Hey Kangal! After the mess Kamla left, a fool could NOT continue to lead the government. And Mamoo, by the way, you can buy all of Kangal’s books, he has his audience in you and Im happy with that.

    I fail to see how those points noted above creates or encourages intelligent (as I know it) thinking or creative understanding of the issues raised by Dr. Cudjoe. But then again, these people have their audience who thrive on inconsequential negativity and being cognizant of our tribal differences, I am sure the likes of a man like Dr. Rowley being head of state, ignites the ire his tribal opposites.

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