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Mih pardners an dem

Monday, January 22, 2018

Several pardners of mine had some really memorable things to say this week.

BC Pires hit a classically offensive six, touching the ball with “If you can measure Trinidad’s compassion viciously accurately by how it treats its weakest members” (in which he included homos and stray dogs), “you can measure its superficiality similarly by what it chooses to invest with pomp and circumstance.”

He was sending up the bungling, traffic-tangling show that was our former president’s state funeral, with its 21-explosion salute, colonial opening hymn about armies and kings, visibly empty seats unavailable to the public, singing Chief Justice, false start and general ratchifism. And the ritual re-recitation of dignitaries’ names, offices and spouses.

Just the day before the funeral, giving life to BC’s words and my very frustrations last week, Anthony Garcia had offered his audience (and junior minister) a lesson on the proper protocol for observing all protocols—something the media characterised as a “bouff,” a fourth spelling to add to my lexicographical list last September. The funeral was, however, thankfully free of what in 2010 Patrick Manning termed “midnight robber” millinery.

Such events are a manifestation of what we do least well. An imitative quest to be right, which to me is pointless.

Carnival is an argument for what we do absolutely best and worst, at the same time. Mark Lyndersay described it in a brilliant stroke last week as “a festival that is both bigger and smaller than we imagine” and “has been crafted and curated for decades by its popular circumference operating with only tangential connections to its cultural and creative history.” It was his end to a contemplation he opened with Assistant Superintendent of Police Michael Jackman’s Carnival reminder, in the wake of last year’s local and global “Leave She Alone” and “Me Too” campaigns, than an unwelcome wine is an unwelcome touch. And touching someone is an assault. More love to the TTPS!

Men’s responses were spectacular. Men who’d be horrified if a man stole a wine on them joined those who’d be beaten down if they were the wininthieves, agreeing women should stay home if they objected to our winetiefing “culture.” Machel, still on bail in an assault case reportedly emanating from an unwelcome wine on him, whose 2017 Calypso Rose duet on leaving women alone is still in rotation, was media-savvy enough to backtrack from a fete-stage invocation to ignore Jackman’s counsel.

I challenged Single Fathers Association (SFATT) director Wendell Grant to speak out, while sparring over his derisive response to Gabrielle Hosein’s derisive defence last week of feminism’s uncompromising championing of women. Deriding me as an anti-family and fatherhood homosexual beholden to feminists to carry water for my cause, his eventual position was to deride Womantra for encouraging women to become violent when they didn’t want to be wined on. Womantra in fact garnered news coverage last week for Jessica Joseph’s playful “Wining Etiquette” infographic doing the opposite.

My call two weeks ago to “put men and boys more to the centre of our policy solutions” to gender-based violence was about accountability and effectiveness. But my most powerful lesson about how we can all be our best selves, gleaned from feminist women’s generosity, is to practise empathy.

A lesson a young man offered me again last week, along with playfulness, as generative tools for men and women to share and build our Carnival nation.


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