Catholic High Mas (Band)

By Corey Gilkes
January 24, 2011

TriniSoca.com Carnival 2010Recently, we heard an announcement that the Catholic Church plans to have a band for the upcoming Carnival celebrations. And, even though Carnival has not yet been officially launched, ting done tun ole mas with that announcement.

According to reports the main organisers claim that they are trying to inject a spiritual element in the Mas which they see as having descended into a public display of tasteless, sexual decadence and drunkenness. Personally, I have very mixed views on this proposed band. On the face of it the idea is good, well-intentioned and frankly what I have seen over the last number of years as “costumes” disgust me to no end. Barring the usual Minshall and MacFarlane and one or two others, by and large the so-called bandleaders have no craft, no originality (unless you actually believe that ancient Romans did look like Las Vegas showgirls), and certainly little knowledge and even less respect for the history and uniqueness of Trinidad’s Mas which was first and foremost street theatre (and political street theatre at that). Furthermore, we have moved – or rather they have taken us – from the ingenuity and creativity of people like the late Cito Velasquez to outsourcing parts of the “costumes” in China. George Bailey must be giddy in his grave by now. So anybody or group that tries to bring something that is NOT that, they have my blind support…

Except when the group is a church group.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not that I hold the view that the Church should not get involved in something as “carnal” as Carnival and I’ll come to that in a minute; my issue with the Church (or mosque or any religious denomination for that matter) has to do with their ideology (and frankly I don’t completely trust their intentions either). Mind you this is not the first time such a thing has been proposed; for those old enough to remember, a Pentecostal group (I stand to be corrected) attempted the same thing and for the same reasons. And I was sceptical then as I am now.

My suspicion and scepticism stems from the fact that to date the Church has not publicly and properly dealt with the paranoiac fear of sex and women it inherited from Ancient Greece and Rome. In her book The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Barbara G. Walker quotes one Rev. Dr. Joseph Fletcher who wrote, “The Christian churches must shoulder some of the blame for confusion, ignorance and guilt which surrounds sex in Western culture….[T]he Christian church, from its earliest primitive beginnings, had been swayed by many Puritanical people, both Catholic and Protestant, who have viewed sex as inherently evil.” The historical record is very clear that they did. Of course, it has been dressed-up and presented in a very nice, pure, innocent way because, after all, you catch more flies with honey (look, for instance, at the way women have now become the most vociferous defenders of monogamous exclusive relationships which was an arrangement developed by men to control the women they feared and hated). For all the cloaking that does not and can never change the fact that much of this ethic of “decency” and “morality” and “modesty” they are trying to inject into the Mas had nothing to do with any such thing but came from ancient fears of women and were ideas that were developed to suppress women’s high political and social status. The main weapon used was shame: that is, by making them – much more so than the men – ashamed of their sexuality and erotic power.

My point is that, to date, I have neither seen nor heard the Church publicly acknowledge that it is their skewed, misogynist views of sex that led to the same decadence they now decry; when you repress something, do you not then make it more appealing? When you create or expand on philosophies that objectify women, blame their sexuality for all that is negative in society do you not create a mindset that approaches sex from a standpoint of violence? The Church has done all of this and more, and in so doing, warped the minds of even the Protestant sects that grew out of it; the same Protestant sects that centuries later would send missionaries to Trinidad to take charge of our colonial – and post colonial – schooling and churching.

Which brings me to what really chook mih to write this short piece: the attitude of many Trinis to this venture. I listened to a lot of the comments on radio and on online discussions and overwhelmingly the responses I heard were exactly as I expected them to be – hostile and ignorant. We Trinis are an amazing bunch of people; we joke about and treat lightly very serious things and make immense fuss over things that are often very trite. We are a culture of interesting contradictions and paradoxes; a classless society that is forever trying to instil Eurocentric ideas of class; a society that produced giant intellectuals like Lloyd Best, V.S. Naipaul, John LaRose, C.L.R. James, Lionel Sieukeran, and yet there is no culture of reading or critical thinking (hence the fact that we also like to speak with authority on things we know very little about, particularly when it deals with religion).

It also is most manifest in our approach to the sexual and sensual; the Africa and India in us gave us a society that is bursting with sexual energy that we are forever trying to play down and deny because since our foreparents time we were taught that that is base savagery, lewdness, obscene, indecent (read, uncultured or uncivilised…unlike the British). On a daily basis we interact with each other – often very innocently – in ways that in other countries like Canada and the US we would be instantly arrested or fired for being sexually inappropriate. But that is just how we are and while there should always be some sort of balance, that aspect of our selves should never be stifled apologetically or ashamedly.

Over and over I heard callers argue that what the Church is attempting to do is wrong, is a lowering of itself to the base level, that, “de Church eh have no business in dat,… That is not of god, dais of de flesh, Church is to stay out of that,” etcetera, etcetera,etcetera. Oh please, read already. Ironically, the more pious the pontificating, the more the pontificator showed his paganism…Ok, I’ll stop it now, but the fact is that that way we have learned to draw a firm demarcating line between the spiritual and the physical/carnal came from the ancient Zoroastrian belief system of Persia – in other words from a “pagan” culture. But I will always remember going to a lecture back in 1995 by Dr. Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool in which he said if Jesus were here today he’d be dancing and wining in a Carnival band. Admittedly, given the orgiastic nature of the ancient Jewish Agapae ritual, he may well have done a lot more than wine.

Now I know this may offend some reader’s sensibilities but don’t expect me to make any apologies for that. Too many of us are still holding onto this romanticised image of certain biblical characters, not least of which is the Jesus figure, and it should not be underestimated how profoundly that affects the way we perceive ourselves. There is a prevailing image of the Christ Jesus as an asexual person that is not even in keeping with Jewish culture at that time. This stems from the Greeks and Romans who had a big problem with sex, women, nakedness and the natural world. This discomfort passed on to the early Christian theologians as well as 1st century Jewish religious leaders who were already tainted by Levite Judaic thought.

I am by no means denying that Carnival is about sex. It is and has always been very sexual from its beginnings in Egypt (or further inland for all we know) through the Greeks and Romans who copied it from those Africans of the Nile Valley right up to the present day. The difference lies in how sex is viewed in different cultures. In Africa and related Celtic and Asiatic cultures, it was linked with fertility and rejuvenation, an expression of the pleasure principle that led to new life and thus continuity. For patriarchal Eurasia it was a potentially hostile force that had to be fought, tamed and brought under control. Sex became something that was seen as corrupting, dangerous and sinful because, when viewed in the context of the harsh climatic and living conditions of post-Ice Age Eurasia, it took away from the men’s pursuit of hunting and warfare which was essential to the survival of the clans in that region.

But the average Trini knows nothing of this because we are culturally illiterate and proudly so. Look around in the average library and tell me how many people are there on a daily basis. Most of the few who are there are in the place only because they have some test or assignment to hustle down. And for those who want to argue that the internet makes libraries unnecessary the reality is that for all this instant access to information people are reading and reasoning less, not more. And that is manifested in our school system, in the standards of Kaiso, Soca, popular music, political and religious discourse and Mas design.

So, to borrow from an old Kaiso, if de priest want to play, who is me? Let him go right ahead, but as far as I’m concerned ONLY after he has come to terms with his issues of sex. Because it is he who placed society in the mess that it is in, all the Mas has done is reflect that.

12 Responses to “Catholic High Mas (Band)”


  • I want to state at the beginning of this comment, that I am not a Roman Catholic, but I attended Catholic elementary school. I am a student of history, who has attempted to learn from it.
    Carnival comes from the Latin words that mean “Goodbye to Flesh” a time of emptying the fridge as it were, of all meats, and alcohol-I assume, before the sober season of Lent.It was supposed also to be a spiritual cleansing. So, the name of the festivity has church origins. We use the term Mas, shortened from Masquerade, which is an African(Yoruba, mostly) festival of dancing in the streets, dressed in “character”. In West Africa, those dancing the masquerade were elders, who spoke in the spirit of the diety they represented, to tell the community what they needed to know. This was a sacred ritual as it still is in places where it has not fallen victim to tourist cameras, and other things that degrade culture. The Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe, although he is Igbo, discusses Mask making in his novels, Things Fall Apart, Arrow of God and so on. Look up Egungun, he is a major diety figure in west African masquerades.
    Now Carnival as it has eveolved in Trinidad and Tobago has always been a teaching tool, as was medieval miracle and morality plays in England. Socio-drama is the single most effective method of teaching there is. The people become the part. Derek Walcott, in his opening section of his brilliantly beautiful Nobel Lecture- The Antilles, speaks of a masquerade on the plains of Caroni- It is a re-enactment of Ramleela- where children become the God Rama and his entourage, and learn this long epic, by doing it. There is drumming and music on loudspeakers, and he speaks of his amazement that this had been going on all his time in Trinidad, and he had never seen it before that one time, although he had adapted Shakespeare’s plays to suit other audiences.Those reading the lecture may have flocked to Felicity village and ruined a good thing, I do not know.
    Some years ago, Minshall brought out River Come Down, which many thought was going to be a sarcastic comment on the Spiritual Baptists. It turned out to be no such thing, and Minshall went on to win a Grammy for his depiction of Fire and Ice at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics.
    Now, Mr. Gilkes disparages mas depictions of Romans and Greeks, and he is justified. He should have said that the reality was much uglier. People captured by the Roman generals were paraded through Rome in a Triumph, chained to the backs of chariots, the loot taken from their raped countries, and the exotic animals, riding in open carts. After the Triumph, the prisoners were forced to jump off rocks on a hill, into the sea two hundred feet below. Saved the Romans having to bury them. Nor did we need to see the sack and burning of Troy, and the raping of the young girls when the Greeks came out of their Trojan Horse. Too graphic is not learning.It’s frightening.
    Now, beginning with The Ten Commandments, there have been a lot of movies made on religious subjects. I did not get less respect for the Ten Commandments because Charlton Heston was a gun toting rightist in real life. Nor did my respect for the last Pharoah of Egypt, Cleopatra, diminish because she was portrayed a certain way in hollywood. In fact, it caused me to dig deeper. Hollywood portrayed her as a queen, which would have made her, her own wife. She was as much pharoah as was Rameses 11. I also went on to learn about Hapshetshut, that other female Pharoah who created the Egyptian navy.
    Recently, there have been a number of movies made about the Catholic Church, ever since the scandal of the Vatican Bank, whose director hung from Tower Bridge in London, in what could not have been a suicide. We also learned from that scandal, that the Vatican owned shares in a factory that made contraceptives. All of the recent novels depicting the Church of Roma in an evil light have been hits. People resent the power and the glory- as well as the weath of the Vatican. My favorite novel about the church is Collen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds, which exposed a priests need for love, the love of a woman in his life. It ended tragically with the young illigitimate son of Fr. Ralph de Briccasart drowning, just after he becme a priest, but it was a good story.
    All of that brings me to the point: When I see fantastic church parades, the clergy in all their regal vestments, I assign status of King of the BAnd, say to the Pope or to Canterbury, the head of the Anglican church. The parades of Pentecost in the street outside the Cathedral on Independence Square is stret theatre. I welcome the opportunity to see what the Catholic Church, under a white foreign bishop, would do in its portrayal of the Church in a Carnival Band. Go for it, people. Tell your own story. Others have presumed to tell it for you, now, its your turn.Let the critics stew in a froth of their own bile.

    Now, this IS Long. I hope it gets printed.

  • Thanks for that piece Ms Edwards

    I’d like to hear more or be directed towards reading material on those medieval miracle and morality plays you mentioned.

    Thanks also for bringing back up The Thorn Birds (laughs). I saw the miniseries years ago and I also read the book. Very interesting it was

  • In medieval times, scenes from the Bible were enacted as plays on the steps of the churches as a way of teaching the Bible to preliterates. (I use the term preliterate to designate people who could not read, because they had not been taught.)This was before books were widely available. The play that comes easiest to mind is “Everyman”. Lecturers at UWI in the area of Medieval English Literature can direct your reading further.

    I should add, in further support of the Church and Mas, that both Ostre(Easter) and the Winter Solstice Festival were pagan affairs, until the early church stepped in and changed Ostre, the spring fertility festival, into Easter.The Easter Bunny stayed, and the risen Christ became the symbol of everlasting life. The Winter Solstice festival became married to Christmas. You insert a festival where there already is one, to change the people’s behaviour.Hosay is also a festival that is like a Carnival, that began as a religious parade. The reason why the Tadjas are dumped into the sea is so that they will not be used agin, its a kind of sacrifice.Hindus put the ashes of the cremated dead into the sea or a river leading to the sea, also.

    Let us use our knowledge to continue to lighten the darkness of some minds.Our country still offers a unique opportunity to study many cultures and religions.

  • The Roman Empire were divided into East and West. When the western side fell to the invading barbaric forces around 476 A.D. The East continued to survive at Constantinople. The Period of the Dark ages were known around this time- frame 476 A.D.- 1453 till the fall of Constantinople.
    This so-called church was reigning supreme during this period. The Bible was a forbidden book. While the church was in it’s blaze of glory the Bible was a forbidden Book.Access to the classical languages and literature were forbidden to the West.Scholarly elements were controlled by the church. Hebrew, Greek and even Latin was forbidden by the West.
    This cannot be the lighthouse for guidance and spirituality. Is only when Constantinople fell to the Turks the west became enlightened. Works of the Classical Greeks and Romans, The Hebrew, and the received text brought enlightenment to the west, with the wave of scholars that headed in this direction.
    The Arabic world were way in advance in comparing to the west. Enlightenment brought on the period known as the Renaissance- Reformation followed in pursuit. With massive universities and learning centers. What was forbidden to the masses was now accessible to all with the Renaissance and Reformation period.
    Only Tom Foolery and Tricks were being practice by this church. The Reformation is the cause that brought Europe out of illiteracy and primitiveness. High mas is Pagan, just like most church holidays -lent,Easter,corpus Christi etc. Acting out in carnival now does not sounds strange.
    Because ash Wednesdays would take care of that. we need strong minds and a good heart in looking back at history, because we cannot change that.Understanding where we come from might give us some direction into the future.

  • I agree with the writer on the point that what passes today for masquerade would make George Bailey and creators of his class turn in grief & anger & disbelief in their graves.

    Today, what exists, not only in T&T, but also in other “mas” places like Nottingham, Toronto, New York, etc., are annual parades of costumes commercially produced, not by artistes, but by artisans.

    They come up with some half-baked idea; ideas without context of time or place, and using welding torches in addition to last year’s left-over ostrich feathers, plastic sequins and immitation beads, all from the same basement outlets, these charlatans–oftimes demanding in high-decibels, monies from public sector sources–foist on the public, shameless displays of the utterly banal and the predictably anti-creative. Mere pieces of rusty iron spinning endlessly on cheap rubber wheels.

    For most of them, creation cannot begin to reach the heights to which soared creations like Tantan and Sagaboy, but adopting the bodies of women, primarily those of Black women, clad in the less than next-to-nothing, proudly present as masquerade what amounts to forms of public porn.

    I have nothing against women’s breasts, behinds and other blessings, but I find it offensive that such creativity is photocopied by mindless, money-grabbing artisans who if they create any masquerade at all, it is as they themselves “masquerade” as mas-makers.

    Are there laws in T&T against “fraud”?!

  • Trini, I am afraid that your celebration of Muslim scholarship, distinguished though it is, blinds you to other scholars who translated the Bible and were fluent in Latin and Greek.
    I cite the Venerable Bede, also called St. Bede the Venerable, who was a 7th century English monk and scholar who translated the Bible(check him out at http://www.yahoo.com, by putting his name in the search box.) There was also St. Anselm working in Ireland at that time. Muslim scholarship spread from North Africa, to Spain and then back to Italy, but that does not mean that others were not promulgating learning and scholarship at the same time. I give ful credit to Avveroes and other Muslim scholars. The wealthy could read and write and had acess to handwritten books,.The peasants could not, so the Bible was read to them. Chaucer, in his 14th Century Canterbury Tales, speaks of the lawyer who owned books, because they were rare. It was not until the Guttenberg Bible was printed, that books became more easily available, but they were still costly. In the early twentieth century in Trinidad, it would have been true to say that only the wealthy and the educated owned more han two books at a time. Even today, I am appalled at the high cost of books in my home country.It prevents people from reading widely. The high cost of the internet is also a factor.
    The dark ages were not really dark in Europe. It existed as small candles of flame, lit by St. Amselm, The Venerable Bede
    and others.Only the schooled knew Latin and Greek, unlike Arabic, which many knew by heart from going to the mosque. In both the church, and the mosque, there were a few literate people, and many pre-literates, just like today.

    During the Inquisition, the Catholic Church created an index of books to be read, as against those to be banned. There would have been no need to ban books if no one was reading.

    This is the sort of discussion I love on trinicenter.com, as compared to the offensive name calling that goes on in commenting on other issues.

  • Works of the Classical Greeks and Romans, The Hebrew, and the received text brought enlightenment to the west, with the wave of scholars that headed in this direction.

    I beg to differ slightly from this. The earliest civilizations occurred in the land of Cush. The first phonetic alphabet originated with Phoenicians who were descendants Canaanites. The Greeks received enlightenment from Cushite/Egyptian civilizations. In fact the philosopher Homer described Cushites as “..the most just of all men”, “…favourites of the Gods”. The father of Greek History describes them as “…the tallest, the most beautiful and longed lived of the human race…”.

    We tend examine religion and history from the perspective of writings set down 6000 years ago, when what enfolded then was merely a rewriting and usurping of the beliefs and mythologies of Cushite/Pre_Islamic Egyptian in order to put a slant on it that would portray the originators as inferior and transplant credit unto the usurpers.

    The university founded by Ptolemy, the successor to Alexander the great, in Alexandria, collected and copied the materials and written works of the ancient world to educate Greeks who would become “great thinkers” after their exposure those materials. Turn of the Century European Scholar J.G.R Forlong opined, quote, “……it was undoubtedly Kushites who rendered possible the Aryan advance, and who played the part of civilizing Rome, thousands of years before Roma’s birth…”. According to Physicist, teacher and writer Larry West, “It was their vast mythologies and strange legends that passed…”, according to Lord Bacon, “like light air into the flutes of Grecians, there to be modulated as best suited Grecian fancies”.

    The Hebrews we know today are direct descendants of Caucasians, Akkadians and Hyskos who migrated from the north within the same time frame with the events recounted in the Book of Moses. That was about 2500 BC. They migrated into Greece around 2000BC. They conquered most of Egypt and other parts of that region, events that are generally explained in biblical recounting as killings ordained by the hand of God. The Hyskos or Shepherd Kings ruled Egypt from around 1783 BC to around 1550 before they were ejected by ancient Egyptians.

    The history of mankind, including learnings, constructions and beliefs systems began more tha 6000 years ago, the time frame conveniently concocted to avoid crediting the true sources. In this context, Christianity became the bastardization of Cushite belief systems and mythologies, and as time endured branched off into even more caricatured representations. So the source of knowledge and enlightenment did not originate with Greeks or Hebrews, or even Muslims. They all piggybacked on an establishment of such things that had endured for centuries prior them becoming acquainted with the source of the indigenous establishment.

  • Compliments, and good reasoning my people.
    When we look back at history in the light of the translation of the Bible we would certainly see two Bible Text contending for the supremacy.
    Ever heard of : Justin Martyr,Tatian, Clement of Alexandria and Origen. Along with Eusebius and Jerome. We would have to consider these characters when we rightfully look back at history to determine the development of the Bible as it was handed down to western civilization.
    The onslaught have always been about which is the Original to the spurious text.
    THE TWO PARALLEL STREAMS OF THE BIBLE
    Apostles (original) Apostates (Corrupted Originals)
    Received Text (Greek) Sinaiticus and Vaticanus (Greek)
    Waldensian Bible (Italic) Vulgate (Latin)-
    Church of Rome Bible
    Erasmus (Received Text Restored) Vaticanus (Greek)
    Luther’s Bible, Dutch, French,
    Italian, etc. (From Received Text) French, Spanish,
    Italian (From Vulgate)
    Tyndale, (English) 1535
    (From Received Text) Rheims (English) From
    Vulgate (Jesuit Bible of
    – 1582)
    King James, 1611
    (From Received Text) Oxford Movement

    Wescott and Hort
    (B and Aleph).English
    Revised 1881

    Dr. Philip Schaff
    (B and Aleph). American
    Revised 1901.

    “The King James from the Received Text has been the Bible of the English speaking world for over 400 Years. This has given the Received Text, and the Bibles translated from it into other tongues, standing and authority”.
    Source:Benjamin G. Wilkinson- (Our Authorized Bible Vindicated).pg 43.
    I said all this to show that Justin Martyr, Tatian,Clement, Origen,Eusebius and Jerome were laced in Greek Philosophy and Gnosticism of the Early Part of Christianity. At the same time After the Apostles, The Apostolic writings were majorly maintained by the Churches of Judea, Syria, Northern Italy, Southern France, Early Britain. The Waldenses played a great part in preserving the Apostolic Text. This have always been the Battle over the Bible in European History.
    With the Appearance of the Dead Sea Scrolls and The Nag Hammadi Text, and every other fragments that have been appearing all seems to be removing the Received Text from existence. In the Times of Constantine the Bible that were choosen by him came from the Eusebius-Origen Nature. The Hexapla. It have been stated that Constantine commissioned Eusebius to translate 50 copies of the Hexapla Text. The Vaticanus and The Sinaiticus was of this setting.
    Most modern versions are reverting back to the Latin Vulgate, this was Rejected by the Protestant Reformation. The Oxford Movement that took place in England around 1881 reverted to the Latin Vulgate and Sinaiticus Text.
    This is what has been the issue surrounding the Bible. Now compare the King James Version -(the book of James 5:16 to the NIV and you might see why all the emphasis on this spurious version. Christ never said that we must confess our Sins to another Mortal like ourselves.
    The Foxes Book of Martyrs, Shows some insight to the Role of the So-called Church in these Times. What was the Real Struggle in Europe when people were fleeing from her shores? Religious persecution, the Rule of Church and State. This Has been the founding principles of the American Republic ever since. The Separation of the Church from the State.
    Who gave this concept of Civil and religious freedom to the western World? The Protestant Reformation if you Please.In connecting to the ancient World People were being Enlightened to Scientific Breakthrough. The Bible Do have an Essential Part to Play in the Development of Modernism. It Preaches Enlightenment and Freedom, when this is being re-pressed, know for sure the on-slaught on our Freedom would be destined.

  • with respect Ms Edwards, Trini has a very valid point. While you are correct in that there were Christian scholars, by and large the Church suppressed higher learning unless it was in strict conformity to its own dictates and doctrine.

    For centuries the Church forbade scientific pursuit, astronomical observations, complex mathematics and even the very numbers we use today because it was felt that they were magical, particularly the zero. There would not have been a Rennaissance hd not the Moors preserved centuries of Greek, Indian and Egyptian learning (while at that same time, over on the Christian side they were burning books and often people along with them).

    The anti-intellectualism pro-fundamentalist bent of US culture, and in Congress particularly during the Bush years is directly related to the Calvinist Protestant hostility against secular learning that took over from the Roman Church

  • The griot in me wants to tell this story, which I got from another scholar, Audrey Shabazz, who teaches a course called Treaching about the Arab World and Islam”.
    The Moors were being expelled from El Andalus, and their library at Cordoba had been ordered burned by Fernnand and Isabella. Many of the Spanish soldiers rspected the Moors and Jews for their love of learning, and hated to see the entire destruction of the libraries of two scholarly people.
    The night of the bondfires, while the Jews nd Muslims hudded in their houses in fear, there were peremtory knocks on the doors of some houses. Terrified, the residents opened the door to find a soldier standing a few feet away, and a small pile of books on their doorstep. as the door opened, the soldier moved on so no one could see his face.
    Thus, books were burned, but many significant ones were saved by the actions of illiterate soldiers, who loved what they could not produce in others. These books were secreted in the baggage that the displaced persons took to Venice and other Italian towns, and helped jumpstart the reinasance.

    All over Venice, if you know what to look for, you will see Moorish design in buildings. As a mater of fact, pull up online the PAlace of The doge in Venice, and you would see similarities to the TAj MAhal- both Islamic influenced buildings. Learning may have been suppressed by The Roman Church, in its conflict with the Eastern Orthodox Church. People in power do not like others to read and comment freely. Thinkers are dangerous, as Julius Ceasar rightly said, but wherever learning survived: Averroes, Savorarola, St. Anselm, The Venerable Bede, it was someone determined to pursue an individual course, or a unique collaboration between various people.

    I note for the record the stranglehold the Christian, and non-christian churches, temples and mosques have on the information pertinent to the wombs and repproductive systems of women in Trinidad and Tobago- a collaboration in which most of the menfolk acquiesce, because it suits their convenience.

  • “I note for the record the stranglehold the Christian, and non-christian churches, temples and mosques have on the information pertinent to the wombs and repproductive systems of women in Trinidad and Tobago- a collaboration in which most of the menfolk acquiesce, because it suits their convenience.”

    Now, Ms Edwards, THAT has been a sore point of mine for quite a long while. I will go further to include women’s sexuality and what Marilyn French called feminine morality (as distinct from the authoritiative, paranoiac and individualistic masculine morality). One cannot separate the two (the reproductive and the sexual aspects), they go together and are tied in to an even much wider picture

    But it’s not just the menfolk who acquiesce; from what I see some of the most vocal supporters and upholders of that male-centred morality are women.

  • Corey, I know that women are “upholders of false morality” You are right. Two examples: In the 1980’s I was a strong campaigner for the right of women to be ordained to the clergy of the Anglican Church of the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago, and the Province of the West Indies.At one of the focus groups we held on the issue, women were the strongest objectors, because they feared women priests going on retreat with their husbands! They could not lift their thinking above the possibility of sex. Having gone on a number of previous retreats for educators in the USA,with agendas so crowded that you could hardly breathe; I was stunned at the backwardness represented in this thinking. Later, as I conducted workshops for women, including a revolutionary series of four luchtime lectures at the POS townhall in 1987 for Women’s History Month,I came to realize how deepseated that fear of the other professional woman was. Women try hard to please men; and many of their opinions reflect what men want them to think, or what men would see as attractive.
    I thank God for young women like Dr. Rhoda Reddock, Vice Principal of UWI, whom I have known since she was a child of 12, and for the kind of mindset this first daughter of her household developed.
    How I wish there were more like her, intelligent, brave, unafraid to have and show one’s mind; and realizing that there are men who find that attractive, and if Mr. Right did not come along, you have the skills to shape your own life. The furor about Wendy Fitzwilliams’ pregnancy was another eye opener.
    Men also control women by withdrawing their affection, and some women would then be on the breadline- thus they toe the line, and are dusty mirrors, reflecting the male hegemony of religious beliefs. Poor things.
    MAybe this wining in the streets would be the Great Liberation of Catholic Women, sanctioned by the church?

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