Saturday, February 17, 2018

PM must stand up for her sisters


Mark Fraser

 A dictionary definition of stereotype is “an oversimplified conception ... or image”, hence it necessarily lacks context, detail and nuance. However, what many of us automatically assume, especially out of political correctness, is that because it’s a stereotype it’s baseless. 

Good decisions can only be made with reliable data, therefore, stereotypes must never be allowed to bias our thinking but that does not mean some don’t have a grain of truth. 

The reports of a particular type of misbehavior by our male parliamentarians over the years, and especially of late, have inspired me to write this letter. One of the less discussed racial stereotypes to which Trinidadians subscribe is that of the misogynist Indian man. I have, on occasion, heard references to it in places I have worked and seen it vaguely implied in the media. It also seems that the male, Indian MPs on the Partnership side, are working tirelessly to confirm it by their infamous misdeeds. 

The popular media is filled with positive images of white and black males, they are shown as debonair, heroic, chivalrous, while even the most favourable portrayals of Indian men are of spineless, effeminate, awkward misfits. 

If the Western media characterise Indian men as losers it is perhaps because we, as Indian men, don’t give them much good material to work with. If many Trinbagonians think of us as skinny, yet pot-bellied, wife-beating drunks perhaps it is because that is the character of the leaders we elect over and over again. 

If I, as someone who is careful to remain blissfully ignorant of our politicians, can recall five incidents of misogynist violence in which Partnership members have been implicated then I wouldn’t want to know how many more have actually occurred. 

The first that comes to mind are the allegations of domestic abuse made against an old, deceased former UNC minister who served time for murder; the second was of a San Fernando mayor who was accused of assaulting his female companion in public at a popular mall in South; third, accusations that a powerful minister with a self-conferred legal title beats his new wife; fourth, a drunken minister with the responsibility for giveaways and freeness threatening and inappropriately touching a flight attendant; and finally, the serious allegations of assault and child neglect made by a business woman against one of our currently self-serving ministers. 

It could be argued that the Indian woman’s greatest enemy is the Indian man and the silence of her sisters and community. 

Kamla, Stacy, Carolyn—what have you to say about the disgusting behavioUr of your male colleagues? The irony with these abhorrent displays of contempt, for women in particular and ordinary citizens in general, is that this is the party that gave us our first female PM. 

I hope she doesn’t behave like what some believe is the stereotypical Indian woman and obsequiously defer to these repugnant individuals. It would be a terrible indictment against her character for her to let these allegations slide without swift justice for the women involved. 

Rakesh Mohan  

Enterprise, Chaguanas