Awaiting Irma in Antigua

On September 2, there was news of a hurricane looming in the Atlantic, but it was too far away for me to start worrying. I mean the possibility of the hurricane being a 5+++ definitely was not something that was on my mind.  So that night, my family went out for an absolutely wonderful dinner at Coconut Grove restaurant located on Dickenson Bay’s beach. As we ate, we looked over at the water and couldn’t help but take note of how close the tide was coming onto the sand. I know this generally tends to happen at night and no, it is not my hap to be at the beach at night to notice any changes in this process but my interest about the hurricane increased.

As the week rolled in, I learnt that Irma (as by now you would have known the name of the now infamous system) was constantly strengthening. I believe that it was on Monday that I watched our hurricane watch become a hurricane warning and my anxiety and feeling of helplessness surfaced. The general manager of Antigua& Barbuda’s state media sent me the notice and I forwarded it to my sister. I was simply informing my sister of what was to be as I had no power of diverting this storm. My voice couldn’t calm the ocean and I knew prayers had been lifted up by persons to many gods before their imminent demise owing to natural disasters or man- made evils to no avail. However, in my resolve that what would happen will, I just hoped for the best.

The news was filled with updates on this beast named Irma. I couldn’t hide from her. She was too big and had her let her presence be made known to too many for me to avoid being reminded of her increasing, unprecedented power. People who would barely post to Facebook posted stating their absolute fear of facing a hurricane that was a category 5. The sounds of people making their preparations added to the sense of urgency. However, on Tuesday morning while I made last minute preparations as my mom, my sister and myself were going to head to my aunt’s to ride out the storm, I found it difficult to move. I was glued to the radio. Local meteorologists warned the Antiguan& Barbudan people that even if the hurricane was to make a last minute shift north, it would not be of much benefit to us because the system was so big we were still going to be quite close to the eye of the storm. However, my sister came back from work early as workers were dismissed earlier than usual to make preparations and it gave me the strength to do what needed to be done to see the “best” results after the storm.

Our shutters were closed, our furniture covered and pictures and trinkets taken down from the walls and we headed to my aunt’s home that is located more in central Antigua. Mind you, we don’t live close near the coast or in low lying areas, however, we just wanted to feel as safe as possible and thought that moving would have been the best option and the added company would have provided solace under such unfavorable circumstances.

My aunt’s 6 boys were over at her place including her newlywed son and his wife who hails from Barbuda. Every one was just wondering what the outcome of what this category 5+++ hurricane would be. I told my sister that if we made it out alive, we would have made it through the storm successfully. I started envisioning our house being cast to shambles or at least our roof being blown off. We’ve never suffered those circumstances in precious storms but Irma was not like prior storms. She was in a category of our own.

Around 8 p.m., the electricity went off and I felt like the beginning of the end had started. During the days before the storm and especially on that Tuesday, it was exceedingly hot. The night was also quite warm… and quiet. There was consistent light rainfall that I cannot remember the starting time of. I could hear the winds start to pick up as it edged towards 9 p.m. and there were some gusts that caused my heart rate to increase because I imagined that the weather would only get worse. At this time, most of my cousins had departed in different quarters of the house and her eldest son was asleep in the living room. My mom, sister, aunt and myself laid down in my aunt’s bed (it’s a big bed :D) awaiting what we were sure would be an epic arrival by Irma. From time to time I would head into the living room where I would see my cousin sleeping which was quite understandable because there was not much action going on. Around after 10 p.m., I believe, we looked through the glass door in my aunt’s room and saw one of my aunt’s neighbors outside. 😦  Some of my cousins had come into the bedroom, wondering why the neighbor was outside… and where was Irma. At around 11: 45 p.m., I started listening to a local radio station, Vybz FM where an international meteorologist provided updates and said that we could expect the storm to be at its strongest at 1 a.m. and at 3a.m. , we could expect hurricane conditions to weaken and continue to weaken at 5 a.m. Time seemed to go quickly and I remember my aunt and me checking her phone at 12:30 a.m. and feeling convinced that we would not feel the brunt of Irma’s wrath as it was so quiet, she would have a lot of work to do to become a monster at 1. However, I still couldn’t sleep and listened on as people called in to the radio station saying they were fine although someone said that his roof had blown off and he was calling in from under his bed but I am not sure whether this incident of a house being damaged to that extent in Antigua is confirmed. As persons from the eastern side of the island checked in on the radio station as safe, my aunt reassured my mom that our home would be in tact when we returned home. Four of us, listened hopefully as we laid on the bed.

It was just before 2 a.m. I believe when the deeayj said that he wanted callers from Barbuda to call in as he wanted to hear how they were faring the storm. Shortly after he said that it appeared that all contact with the sister isle had been lost. At 2 a.m. in Antigua, it was almost completely quiet. The rain had eased up and the wind had been stilled for a moment before rain started falling again. I felt that we were going to be okay. I was put at ease and I eventually fell asleep.

At around 8 the following morning, we drove home. Confident that we had a home to go to and an Antigua with some level of normalcy, we could think about our regular plans and interests because Irma was now a thing of the past. We had made it out alive and with no damage to property. A statement from our prime minister was forwarded to me stating that we were all spared… but then, later on, Prime Minister Gaston Browne visited Barbuda by helicopter being the one to enlighten us that Barbuda’s housing stock had suffered 90% damage in his estimation and that a toddler had lost his life. Barbuda, located 61.5 k north-west of Antigua was a completely different scene from the damp but in tact properties in Antigua. It was devastating. Even though I tried to prepare myself for the possibility of a desolate Antigua on Tuesday morning, it was difficult to imagine it actually happening to people in the sister island considering that we were safe in Antigua.

 

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Barbuda after Irma Photo Credit: ABS Television/ Radio FB page

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Barbudans leaving Barbuda. Photo credit: ABS Television/ Radio FB page

 

However, in the midst of it all, the Antiguan people pulled together to evacuate the people of Barbuda and to provide the needs for Barbudans. I might write another post about the outpouring of support shown by my people as including it in this post would make it longer than I would like. But what I learnt was that sometimes in life, you will have no control over what happens to you. It doesn’t mean that you are trying to victimize yourself or that you are making excuses, but there are situations in life where all you can do is hope for the best. In this case, residents of Antigua were spared but we could have easily been in the same state as the people in Barbuda. Life doesn’t provide us with reasons as why some things happen to some and why some things don’t and it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with you. It’s just life, we’re only human and we don’t have control over it all.

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Equal rights and justice for all…

 

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Photo from European Movement International.

In the bedroom that is. Dancehall artiste Ishawna has come out to say something that has probably been on the minds of many women. Ishawna declares in her song, “Equal Rights” that she can go lick for lick with a man in the bedroom. If a man wants oral sex, he by all means should be willing to “deal with me like a bag juice.”  The song, as you can imagine has caused major backlash on social media, primarily by men might I add, with some saying that the song is “promoting slackness” and that it promotes whore like behavior. :|This just goes to show the lack of logic undertaken by men who blindly follow the rules and regulations of masculinity in the Caribbean and namely in Jamaica. How does a woman requesting that she receives equal pleasure to what she is giving her partner equate to whoring? Why does a woman’s vagina that has been sang about in many different ways by male artistes suddenly become the most repulsive thing, especially when a man in most cases would be down for getting a blow job? Now, I am not suggesting that you have to be into oral sex; if it’s not your thing, fine. If your girl does not want you to “chew on her like French fries” but she will give you a “shine”… cool. But if you are in a relationship and you like fellatio, why is it that returning the favor is abominable? Why is it that by all means, you must stick to the rules of manliness laid out by men whose sexual lives you do not know?

 

 

Some guys would say, they wouldn’t share a spliff with their male friends because they don’t know if their friends “bow.” But have any of these men stopped to think, the young lady that is doing such a great job at shining their rifle, just might be that good at it because she has done it before? So some men have no reservations about sharing a spliff with a woman who just may have had some penises in her mouth before but a man who has sucked a vagina is gross? Some men want to look so macho to other men it sometimes makes me wonder which side of the fence they are on.

Gage made a song about fellatio in 2014 and it did cause a buzz, actually it’s the only song that I can name from the artiste and the song raised interest but the outrage of oral sex being performed on a  man being unacceptable was not a sentiment that I remember coming across. Even now when I look back at comments on the song’s video, the song received positive comments from both sexes. But, how dare a woman in 2017 come out and say that for a man to get head he must service her first? Criminal, isn’t it? I don’t believe that in changing times and globalization that every trend that comes out a person has to subscribe to, but, double standards should be erased. The notion of the “ever- blessed pum pum” that has been praise by many in the dancehall sphere and entered into without a shield of protection is something that is mentioned in numerous dancehall songs but don’t you get your lips close to it although your woman has made your day by pleasing you with her mouth, because her genitalia is dirty. Remember, blood comes from there… even though urine comes from your penis.

The outrage is rooted in  sexism to me. I know that everyone is  quick to play social justice warrior now and look for something to be mad about but I am not mad. As I have said before, I have no problem with a man not wanting to give his woman oral sex provided that he does not expect to receive it and if for whatever reason a woman is fine with not getting cunnilingus performed on her for whatever reason but is willing to go down on her man- I see nothing wrong with that. It’s the hypocrisy in men receiving blowjobs and accepting it as a norm but demonizing women receiving the same that irks me. #EqualRightsandJusticeforAll

Are you pressed by self- governing women?

We doing this or wah ?!? 👙: @_mariecollette_

A post shared by Kaci Fennell (@kacifen) on

Jamaican beauty queen, Kaci Fennell is in Trinidad for Carnival and appears to be more than ready for the road. Fennell, who placed fourth in the 2014 Miss Universe pageant posted the above picture to her Instagram feed that seems to have raised the ire of many. Foota Hype (a Jamaican personality) decided to take it upon himself to repost Kaci’s image with the caption, ” don’t care if this is miss Jamaica or miss world this nuh look good u favor ediot carnival mek u degrade uself exposing uself smfh better u did come a one dance Inna one batty rider” and then added  #ilovedancehall

The cultural issues that seem to be involved with Jamaicans embracing Carnival I will not get into because I simply can’t relate. In many Caribbean islands, the festival is put on by the government and is embedded in the culture  whereas in Jamaica, the “franchise” is privately owned and seems to cause a divide between different social strata so the implications of some Jamaicans being Carnival fans while not embracing dancehall culture is something that I am able to speak on.

However, what I will address is how perturbed some people are with the decisions that grown women make in their own lives. Kaci, in her clap back to Foota’s statement said that she wore her outfit for her- not for the sake of anyone else. However, some people seemed to believe that Kaci did not have the autonomy to make such a call. In comments on news and social media sites, some stated that  Kaci as a married woman ought to dress better. One person asked, “Would you feel good to know that your daughter or wife dresses this way?” But why is it that some seemed to overlook whether Kaci, the person actually sporting the ensemble felt comfortable in what she was wearing? Why did the morality of what she had on have to lie with someone other than her? I don’t get it. If you do not like the outfit, fine. If you found it to be distasteful, fine. But what made other persons qualified to dictate what a woman should wear? Why should a woman be obligated to put the feelings of others over her own in choosing her attire?

To whom it may concern, I never respond to hate like this but something inside me couldn't allow myself to see this and brush it off like I usually do, especially with what our women have been going through recently. I have grown to completely ignore comments like these. This type of man here is a big part of the problem we are currently facing, not everything I do will be accepted by everyone and there is nothing wrong with that, the problem lies with this person believing he has the authority to comment or even dictate how a woman should carry herself. Instead of celebrating us they tear us down, this type of man makes women second guess themselves and that is absolutely unacceptable because our women are heaven sent and it saddens me that situations like this lower their self esteem. I wore this for me! I felt so beautiful and sexy (thank you @mariecollete) at no point was I seeking for anyone else's approval but my own and that's how it should be always. To any one out there that has been a victim of cyber bullying I just wanted to let you know that you are loved, you are wonderfully made, you are beautiful, you are a masterpiece…. Don't you ever let another person ever make you feel otherwise. Continue to be yourself no matter what negativity may come your way. Wait till him see what I wearing tomorrow 🤔 Ps. I love dancehall, when have I ever said I didn't ?!? 🙈

A post shared by Kaci Fennell (@kacifen) on

Kaci’s response to Foota’s comments.

I am so over men taking their fastness and feeling that because they have a bit of flesh hanging beneath them, they are automatically some kind of oracle  and ought to be enlightening the rest of us earthlings on how we should live and conduct ourselves. Foota openly admitted on On Stage to hitting the mother of his child, dancehall artiste, Ishawna. The manner in which he spoke of the subject made it seem as if he believed it was the most natural thing for a man to hit a woman that he is in “relationship” with. Imagine that a man that is so openly depraved found it within himself to be worthy of speaking on what is correct women’s behaviour. 😦

The mere fact that Foota Hype could be so open about committing domestic abuse while wanting to play dress code police for a woman made me wonder about the potential faults of the persons who commented that they shared Foota’s sentiments. We can be so quick to think that we have the right to dictate how strangers should be without taking into mind our own flaws and without considering others’ family background, education, social circles and a myriad of things that cause people to put together their own standards which are subject to change over time.

This article was timely because of the issue with Kaci Fennell, but it is not just about her. It is about women who swear and are told it’s not ladylike; it’s about women who maybe just want to have sex and go about their business. They don’t want a relationship. It’s about women who may not dress traditionally feminine; it’s about the women who cannot throw down in the kitchen; the woman  who seems to be unable to grow long hair while society teaches her that it is what she should aim for;  this is about the tall girls who feel insecure and afraid to wear heels because they are taught that they should be smaller than a man and therefore less threatening. There is so much that a woman is expected to be that seems to cater more to the egos of men than to her own well-being. Women are not a monolith. We do not share the same standards nor do we share the same stories. We have different interests and some of us whether we are married or single want to go to Trinidad and wine up with our butts hanging out. This may not be your cup of tea and that’s fine. You will not be forced to participate but the throwing around of expectations of what a woman should and should not do especially by people who do not know her personally ought to stop. We can argue that we just want the “best for someone” and that’s why we give unsolicited advice but sometimes we really need to know our place and back off. Kaci has a husband, family and friends. I’m sure that the persons closest to her have her best interests at heart and she like many of us would prefer to hear recommendations from people who we have proven to really be looking out for us.

We can make our own decisions. Please respect that.

Ya a pussy!

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Pussy. Some may use this term just as the syllable before “cat”but sometimes “pussy” is used as a slang for vagina. The word “pussy” is also thrown around usually among males to describe a man that is considered a weakling and here lies the reason for this journal entry.

Being in the Caribbean, I’ve heard men call other men pussies for not conforming to what it is that a man is expected to be- a womanizer, tough, insensitive, crude and aggressive. I am not suggesting that the word is used solely by men in this fashion but I’d argue that it is primarily the case. In my own musings on what it means to be a heterosexual male in some Caribbean circles, it seems as if male straightness is incredibly fragile and dictated by some men who are insecure about their own sexuality and overly concerned about the way that other men live their lives. If a man is met with an unfortunate situation, he is expected to respond with anger and aggression. I recall witnessing an accident during the Christmas holidays where someone rear- end another vehicle breaking one of the tail-lights of the car to the front of him. The young man who was hit came out of his car repeating this one line in Antiguan dialect that essentially means, “This cannot be real” or “You cannot be serious.” He said, “Wha da joke ya tarl.” He repeated this over and over in a way as if he wanted to start something with the person that hit him but lacked the aggression and know how on what to do next. I mean, your vehicle was hit. You have every right to be upset but I  felt that in light of persons in typical Antiguan style flocking to see what had transpired and being asked by persons who missed the accident by a millisecond what had happened, the young man who had been hit was trying to appear more upset than he actually was. To not overreact with aggression can easily cause a man to be dubbed  a “pussy.”

Or what of men who prefer hard sole shoes and work corporate jobs? And young boys who wear their pants on their waists and try to work hard and behave well in school? The young boys that don’t get into fights over dumb ish? They too often get dubbed as “pussies.” If you’ve listened to Kartel’s lyrics in one of his most recent songs “Closed Casket,” you’d hear the list of offenses that should be committed by a young man to not be considered a nerd. Why is it that men have to stay on some dumb stuff to be considered as masculine? To be accepted in the group of heterosexual males, your morals have to be somewhat questionable it seems.

Now on sexual practices, a heterosexual male is expected to have slept with every woman in his community for ratings. It’d be great if he receives oral sex from time to time during his encounters but can he give it? What??! No gyal can sidung pan a real man head. A man abstaining from cunnilingus is one the biggest ways to maintain respect from other males because of course it is another man’s concern what a next man does with a woman. Makes complete sense right? Have you ever been to a party and to get the crowd hype, the male dj would ask, “All da man dem wha know seh dem nah suck pussy, buss a blank?” Brah, why you care? If you are a straight male with no intentions of dating a next man, why are you so pressed about where a next man’s mouth has been? That seems to be something that should be of more concern to women who may potentially date men who may or may not be willing to engage in the practice and would be the ones to make direct contact with a man’s mouth.

Also, a man trying to prove himself to not be a pussy would of course have to be homophobic. I do not think that a person not being keen on the homosexual lifestyle makes one homophobic. I think that we have the right to our opinions because in reality we have views on things or on people that do not affect our lives tangibly. However, some men really are homophobic in the literal sense of the word. They are afraid of homosexuality. I remember seeing men opt to give up their seats in the front of the bus because it was deemed gay for three men to sit in front of a bus in Antigua. Apparently, being bunched between two other males could cause one to switch from loving women like Hugh Hefner to wanting to get involved with other men sexually. I’ve actually heard a young woman say that she hopes that when she has a son, he hates homosexuals and that he beats them up. She said if she heard her son say he has beaten up a gay boy, she would be proud. You see, within Caribbean culture, having a son that is straight can sometimes translate into meaning being violent, hateful and overly concerned with protecting ones sexuality by ensuring persons that have alternative lifestyle preferences are marginalized. By expressing these types of traits one can be sure to not be dubbed a weak fence and a pussy. 🙂

I find it to be sad and lame that a slang for vagina is used to describe primarily weak men when in reality, the very cultural expectations of masculinity lends itself to men who are mentally weak, unable to control emotions and resolve conflict peacefully, lack the ability and will to use education to gain upward mobility and a sexuality that is so weak that it has to work overtime to belittle and threaten others to maintain its “superiority.” Yeah, that sounds quite strong to me.