Hidden Areas of Oppression – By Eusi Kwayana

Hidden Areas of Oppression

By Eusi Kwayana

The accusations of sexual harassment against a top Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein have turned out to be the occasion or opportunity for large numbers of women of some strata only,  to go public about what they have suffered at the hands of  immature males. And maturity has nothing to do with age. A thoughtful previewer of this statement feels that ” immaturity” is too moderate a term for these offences .

I plead blamable for moderation. What I mean by immaturity is to insist that although these offenders have political, administrative and celebrity power, humanly speaking they are, like all felons, not developed.  Here could be men they command that may be more human than they.   

Simply,  it is  the immaturity of respect. I borrow this use of ‘respect’ from a felon serving time who acted in a prison production of “Hamlet”. A recording by ”This American Life” has this  violent offender saying,  “To point a gun at another human being is a sign of the greatest disrespect.”

The assaults discussed here and those of similar kind within and/or across genders or races are at least equally disrespectful.

And this deformation is not confined to the cases and locations dramatically revealed. It is to be found in places profane and holy and permeates all levels of society and all workplaces where people have unequal power or prestige and where there are no ethics and sanctions fairly applied in social justice. In fact, the form of disrespectful misconduct is a vice that proves the equality of human races.

Yet the disrespect can cross racial lines and then it is aggravated disrespect with elements of superiority or inferiority, or worse, of entitlement, all falsely conceived and cherished as natural!.

What symbolises all of this in my mind is the recollection of the image of that high- level international public servant of French nationality who pounced on an African maid employed in the hotel he chose. The predator was cleared by a New York Grand Jury. While not singular in this dirty-minded crime, the USA has been a locus of many leading reference incidents or complaints: Tail  Hook  exposed the much-vaunted discipline of  officers in the “greatest military in the world”, ex-president  and ex-governor Clinton, Supreme court nominee,  Clarence Thomas, ex Governor celebrity Schwarzenegger, Mayor Bobb Filner, rave artists Cosby and Keeler, who always warned, “do not underestimate the sexuality of a Lutheran”

This international felony has the three elements of assumptions of race inequality, class or power and entitlement coming into play.

Cases before the public at present show that many in a position of power or enjoying the status of a celebrity lack the maturity of respect that should go along with your status. Celebrity is a kind of social power many enjoying that status have not been assisted into maturing for it.

The ancient Egyptian sages regarded gender as one of the seven fundamental principles of human understanding along with cause and effect and polarity which drive modern science. But our heads are full of fables about ancient knowledge and fables about gender   mainly because of an education system designed to maintain dominance of race and class, now getting a new lease of life by dreams of   a new age of neo Darwinism at home and abroad.

Sometimes it seems in the words of the poet Arnold Bathersfield that there may be  “No way Out” of the general entrapment.

This disrespectful conduct is so widespread that many who complain about domination have been accused of it. A few years ago a Caribbean prime minister, Ralph Gonsalves, associated with forward-looking tendencies earned the condemnation of regional feminists and their allies when an accusation against him by a woman guard at his official residence was somehow kept from the  country’s courts.

Gonsalves  was not  the first in the  Caribbean  on this disgraceful path  in the Caribbean. In Grenada before the 1979 New  Jewel revolution dictator Sir Eric Gairy  was infamous for allegations  of using his power as Prime Minister to subordinate women for his indulgence. In Guyana the Working People’s Alliance MP bowed to the Speaker and left the Assembly each time a  suspect Minister Corbin  who had not been investigated  despite  the victim’s written statement rose to speak.

Another major opposition party the PPP took no action.

As this is been written news is breaking of widespread abuse of young girls in Ashrams in India, on the heels of the armed abductions of young girls in Nigeria  and the disgraceful  military rapes in the  Democratic Republic of Congo. While the multiple accusations against lawmakers and celebrities were still to be launched the death of Archbishop Bernard Law who had covered up the violations of young boys by criminal priests  was announced by the Vatican where he enjoyed political asylum.

Yet there is no pessimism when we  look  at what the  author of No Way Out, Bathersfield himself   has practiced for three decades along with other members of  Evergreen  Productions.  One of their favourite and effective ways is the filling  of the  listening spaces   everywhere and every time in school,  in concert, in church,  in  kwehkweh, in mall, at naming ceremonies, in conferences with rhythmic truths of  human  experience : human  downfall, human  uprising, uplift and overcoming, interacting with all moods of gatherings and willing assemblies.  And liberation movements that ignore these essential oils of empowerment without a better menu may risk malnutrition.

Liberation from sexual and gender disrespect at all levels is an uphill task and if we leave it for later, we are putting off freedom itself.

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  • Deen  On 01/02/2018 at 6:49 am

    Excellent article. Thanks Eusi Kwayana.
    Loved the last line:
    “Liberation from sexual and gender disrespect at all levels is an uphill task and if we leave it for later, we are putting off freedom itself.”

  • Gigi  On 01/03/2018 at 11:54 am

    Few observations here. The French national you are alluding to was cleared of the bogus rape allegation. It later came to light that the French president of the time in cahoots with Washington were involved and responsible for said French national demise as: (a) he had declared his intention to run for president the upcoming French elecetion against the then French president and close US ally who was seeking reelection; (b) as the current head of the IMP at the time, he had issued a damming statement on the ‘Washington Consensus’ and called on the world to abandon the US dollar as the global reserve currency.

    It seems that many are of the opinion or belief that respect should be a blanketed expression/behavior conferred to anyone and everyone — demanding respect rather than commanding respect. It is this very opinion/belief that leads to individuals in a inferior? (childlike) position automatically conferring respect to those above them. Except this respect is not reciprocated. The reason this isn’t the case is that, for the most part, humans are not automatic or programmable robots deprived of critical thinking and forming conclusions. As a result, humans determine what constitutes this respect and who is deserving. So what we see and have are the different levels of inferior? (childlike) individuals converging at different rungs on the ladder going on and on about not being respected/not receiving this automatic respect THEY ASSUME they deserve based on THEIR opinion/belief.

    The problem with the ‘me too’ movement is similar to that of the ‘black lives matter’ movement in that both seek to make it exclusive to a specific identity thus ignoring the overarching problem behind the movement. Males are victims of male sexual abuse/harassment possibly as much as women and nowhere is this more rampant than in the military, prisons, and (male dominated) religious institutions and (male only) sororities and in war zones where men are the majority. I should also point out that women in superior positions can also behave this way too. A Dept Chair of Education from the college I attended was fired for trading sex for grades with male students. And there was suspicion among some female students that this practice was still ongoing with some of the female professors. The female professors identified were all Black. That’s not to say that female professors of other races did/do not engage in similar behavior. In the same vein, poor people prone to violence and a life of crime dominate police attention, engagement and resulting arrests regardless of race and gender but limited to class.

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