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Transcript
Female Agency and Oppression in Caribbean Bacchanalian Culture: Soca, Carnival, and
Dancehall
Author(s): Kevin Frank
Source: Women's Studies Quarterly, Vol. 35, No. 1/2, The Sexual Body (Spring - Summer,
2007), pp. 172-190
Published by: The Feminist Press at the City University of New York
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27649660 .
Accessed: 22/04/2013 21:30
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INCARIBBEAN
AGENCY
ANDOPPRESSION
FEMALE
AND
CULTURE:
BACCHANALIAN
SOCA,CARNIVAL,
DANCEHALL
KEVIN
FRANK
sex
is
this
oppression
the
fact,
the way
in which
volume
1, An
Introduction
"discursive
through
in
performance
is, bacchanalian.
with
replete
of Sexuality,
of Caribbean
politics
sexual
revelry?that
are
is the over-all
"
The History
Foucault,
I examine
essay
general
sites
briefly,
into discourse.
"put
?Michel
In
"
is at issue,
What
of
of
settings
Soca,
scenes
nihilistic
women's
and
dance,
and
song,
dancehall
and
carnival,
unabashed
agency
risk
thrill-seeking,
taking sexual displays and competing gender politics. One does not need
to look too hard into the minutiae
of Caribbean
social practices to find
sort
the
of
emergent
there
identified
by Paul Gilroy:
has
the
become
boastful
salves
self-consciously
ed.
This
compensatory
masculinity
of
the misery
its
the
performance
and exaggerated
a culture
of
centerpiece
and
of Black
politics
"An amplified
of
and
disempowered
feminine
relational
masculinity
that
compensation
subordinat
become
counterpart
that race makes" (1993, 85). Our focus
special symbols of the difference
on
is
what
here
less
Gilroy correctly identifies as the nationalist bent of
criticism
cultural
within
bitionistic
Gilroy.
The
mance
of
a
part
instance,
the
the
articulations
In dancehall
racial
the
enabling
that
excellence
to be part of the discourse
a certain
or with
dancehall
class,
performances
Women's
WSQ:
[
? 2007
by Kevin
certain
are
class
also
and
colonial
such
Dramatic
burlesque-carnivalesque
Studies Quarterly 35: 1& 2 (Spring/Summer
Frank. All rights reserved.
to
the
character
by
perfor
her
that
training"
as Thomas
Arnold
Caribbeans
and
or
girls
represents
of well-meaning
aspirations.
these exhi
the
repudiates
of Victorians
and continues
subordinated
referred
counterpart"
in dancehall
discourse
the
dancehall
particularly,
identity
"moral
of
revels are rife with
feminine
hypersexuality
particular
of
on
"relational
excessive
for
itage,
the
more
culture. Caribbean
expressions.
are
"queens"
was
and
Black Atlantic
ritualistic,
practices.
2007)]
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of
FRANK
Somewhat
and
in
grotesque
caricature
bitions
culture,
good
in this topic stems primarily from thought-provoking
and Belinda
Cooper
by scholars such as Carolyn
the most
For
Edmondson.
this work
part,
of the potential for female
Cooper asserts that in dancehall
is often
which
can
be
as an
trol over the representation
"Public
essay
of
ing
main
My
term
female
I use
to
it is a
"Performance"
kinds
The
incessant
spaces
con
of
outlook
regard
the
different
a
and
a
suggests
a
body for passive view
term
an
agency,
or make
a
rituals
"performance"
physical
apt
particularly
culture
popular
In that
meanings
"performances,"
for my
act meant
to do
particular
statements.
of
kinds
particular
here.
purposes
2003, 2)
(Edmondson
mance
favorable
around
sphere.
implies
of work
sexuality,
assertion
(2004b, 125-26). Edmondson's
similarly
women's
describe
gesture made with
audience,
a
female
female
kinds of female public
in the
public
physical
ing
of her person"
centers
argument
behaviors
of
self-conscious
performance:
to different
accorded
of
possesses
Spectacles"
the power
as a devaluation
act
optimistic
overly
liberation.
misunderstood
theorized
an
presents
For example, in Sound Clash,
the "affirmation of the pleasures of the
view
also
exhi
these
things,
its ideals of beauty
for example,
taste.
My interest
work
produced
body,
other
among
exaggeration,
dominant
of women
fetishization
necessitates
in dancehall
a reexamination
of
such
and other
perfor
Are
optimism.
these
female
sexual performances
potentially
liberating? Equally important,
is there ameaningful
difference between
that potential and actuality?
a
I contend that, indeed, there is difference.
In exhibiting
them
selves
merely
of
women
self-control.
perform
an indication
gories
Caribbean
sexually,
The
of a lack of control.
female
are
not
necessity
Three
the
ofthat
they
is itself
performance
cate
of Judith Bettelheim's
public
performance?costumed
of meaning:
agents
dancing,
gender-based
in our
and performing
royalty (1998, 68)?merge
self-performance,
As
Bet
analysis, which is especially concerned with the issue of agency.
telheim
notes
when
a female
interpreting
which
cultural
conditions
prohibit
her from being
not
only
repress
sexual, because
carnival
dancer,
woman's
being
sexual
"Given
sexuality
is always
but
the
also
defined
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173
INCARIBBEAN
CULTURE
BACCHANALIAN
ANDOPPRESSION
FEMALE
AGENCY
174
in terms
the
of
active
sexual
performers
assert
own
their
women's
mores:
puritanical
with
associated
acts
such
sex
in
almost
which,
advertising,
in that the women
to
according
Jean
is
the
renders
are
they
Kilbourne,
and
of male
position
is,
than
to
prone
performances
That
are by and large objectified
pur
howev
other
lives,
sexual
pornographic.
to
authority
against
the inflexible
female
them,
fetishistic
suggest
sexual
Furthermore,
or
perspective,
displays
infantile
Caribbean
exploitative,
the
sexy
that
reclaim
denying
body and rebellion
suggest
they
of authority.
manipulation
sexual
heightened
of the fetishized
reclamation
thus
from a psychological
as an
sexuality
adds
to
in order
bodies
her
she
Forte,
Jeanie
sexuality,
(69). Viewed
Caribbean
power
and
pleasure
suit [by men]'"
er,
their
"'expose
uses
performer
from
Borrowing
(69).
agent"
female
this
patriarchy,
to
akin
pornographic
and dehumanized
(1998,
445).
A major key in our study is the politics of control. In fact, it is the
critical factor Bettelheim
the case for seeing
points to in making
former:
as an
as a
Baker
Josephine
the
agent,
the
and
diva,
of
carrier,
an active
masquerader,
is also
masquerade
In an interview
erotic
alised
the
important
of self
Cooper's
in the UK?and
other
class
working
in control
woman
societal
nist
the mask.
women
According
examine
reclaim
their
to
the
structures
ety" (1998, 10). Those
gender
status
to Roberta
of violence
acceptance
scholars
is the
is
she
1998, 69). The
(Bettelheim
of women
in dancehall.
in which
the ways
in the
sensuality
the Dancehall"
(Proudflesh, 2004). My own argument
I am particularly
of such masquerades:
interested
beneath
bad
of meanings;
producer
reading
per
roles?the
performance
is a
She
sexual
using her sexuality
entertainer?the
sexy
meaning.
in
in control,
female
the
female
self-asserting
in the journal Proudflesh she explains: "I look at what I call
set in
in the films Dancehall Queen and Babymother?one
disguise
Jamaica,
In many
practice.
rebellious
not
the
she [Baker] was firmly
"I believe
oppositional
girl,
of
prototype
quo,
with
against
of
structures
men
sexual
Clarke,
women
and
economic
of inequality
ultimately
hinges
in what
"The
has
margin
of
masquerade
on the mask
really
and
pervasiveness
been
traced
inequality
continue
by
femi
in soci
to support
in power.
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lies
the
FRANK
OFTHEFEMALE
RITUAL
BODY
"SONGANDDANCE"
TEMPTED
TOTOUCH:
INSOCA
To all the ladies in the dance
I see you
I lose all control when
Standing there infront ofme
Your
You
clothes,
your
style,
fair woman,
you wine
The way
And
the way
Leaves
me
Leaves
me
twist
and turn your waist
leaves me yearning
wanting,
?Rupee,
you dance
the way
and,
that you
feeling
hair
your
look so sexy
you
for
a taste
to Touch"
"Tempted
Fon bedyon floor againstwall
We sex dem all till dem callmi
Tm digirls dem sugar dats all
Welcome di king of di dancehall.
?Beenie
It has
been
Man,
some
thirty
foreplaying
female
the Dancehall"
since
world-renowned
(Slinger Francisco)
in his brilliant satire of Caribbean
toward
sexuality,
the
cunnilingus:
of
exploration
sweeter
"It's
the
calypsonian
women
Caribbean
men
promise
attitude
avowing
years
of
titillated
Sparrow
Mighty
"King
a certain
for their dis
liberating
than meat
with
/ When
aspect
you
of
want
to eat / All
saltfish sweet," goes the refrain of his perennial hit "Saltfish"
after all this time, there seems as
Sparrow 1976). However,
(The Mighty
if not
much
a
greater
and the generally
Even
dancehall.
title
gart
to
set
the
of
the
trend
distance
excoriating
with
the well-orchestrated
epigrammatic
and
between
attitude
remains
song
above
in strong
encouraging
Sparrow's
toward
rise
suggests,
contention
of
Sean
as
King
in
as the
brag
Paul,
Beenie
posture
exhibited
cunnilingus
Man
continues
of Dancehall;
his lyric from the same song, "Mi stand up and d'weet nuh bow dung and
taste" (Beenie Man 2005) is indicative of themale position widely reflect
ed in dancehall specifically, and in the Caribbean generally. That is, the
sex standing up (with his penis erect), not
song's speaker declares he has
line from Mad Cobra's "Put Gunshot" is
with his tongue. The following
an even better example of this hostile attitude: "Boy weh tek bumpa and
taste below waist / Put gunshot in a yuh blood clot face" (Mad Cobra
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175
176
CULTURE
BACCHANALIAN
INCARIBBEAN
ANDOPPRESSION
FEMALE
AGENCY
to
to homosexuals,
refers
behind)
who
those
"Boy weh
here,
2005). Granted,
down
go
looked, especially
given
attitude
lyrics.
toward
is
What
the
one
of
for
sexual
in
rare
the
she posits
as
seen
be
to
right
Both
of
to display
revelry.
Exhibitionism
of disguise.
One
women
as
theorizes
style
potential
of
the
can
also
claims
of
her
the
identity.
are
sisters
sinewy
equally
sphere as queens of
In the
imperfections.
ordinary
old roles can be contested
the
Indeed,
permissive
this
of
of
sexual
the music
the
view
elaborate
of
styling
of
expression
conceals
and
the
apparent
the
pleasures
else.
something
of
female
sexuality.
Africans,
discourse.
But
The
sexual
power
ofthat
message
attitude
one
of
the
hottest
soca
hits
of
the
to
toward
ultimate
ly overrides whatever
potential exists in the style and stylized
tions of female sexuality inside and outside dancehalls.
a doubt,
para
attempts
attitude
oppressive
substance
the exhi
spaces
and
the
significant
dominant
of dancehall
disciplining,
The
of
acceptance
a
upon
ideological
performances
potential
paternalistic,
is
essentialism
subjugating
from
and women's
Without
is
of Decency
signs
being
marker
in the public
assumed.
is a
as
of
sexual
essential
conceals
to
a macho,
reassert
literal
culture
the
have
Codes
sense
this
more
their
themselves
referred
contests
doxically
and
(Cooper 2004a, 77)
projection
emanating
But
as an
and
feature of colonialism's
bitionism
on
messages
Cooper
dancehall
Competing
Woman
clothes
aspect
troubling
atavistic
such
may
misunderstood
sexuality.
identities
and
hair
women
of make-believe,
world
new
and
often
pleasure
entitled
dancehall
pejorative,
figurative
signification,
Dress:
empowering.
women
fleshy
both
are
female
sexual
equa
that:
codes
[Dancehall]
the
bodies? Again,
Caribbean
In "Dancehall
devaluation
is the
here
of
are
women's
where
spaces
refers
over
to be
and threat of violence
concern
preponderance
What
sexuality?
agency.
Jamaica,"
the
a sort of carnivalesque
that, through
is not
group
primary
waist"
below
the first and the unequivocal
of
impact
for Caribbean
implications
first
both.
women's
Caribbean
our
But
tion of the second group with
violent
taste
weh
"Boy
The
the rampant homophobia
in dancehall
expressed
while
on women.
take it from
(boys who
tek bumpa"
past
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few
exhibi
years
FRANK
to move
continues
that
native
of
island
Saint
and
Caribbean
isKevin
around the world
Lyttle's
the
Vincent,
other
on
people
dance
is a result
success
song's
floors
on Lyttle's
"TurnMe On." Recorded
in part
of
its
or hybrid nature:
soca with American
it mixes
traditional
I choose
Rhythm and Blues (R & B) and, equally important, dancehall.
cre?le
this
song
increases
ous
the
subtle,
and
sugary
sexuality,
to
verse
the first
celebrates
For
if you
think
You
better
change
gonna
you're
home
going home with me
the
hand,
be
a
gests
me
from
away
(Lyttle 2004)
tonight.
of
dance
"You're
declaration,
on his
desire
sexually
"perform"
part.
that
posture:
commanding
to
hey)
get
is a form
wining
as mere
empowered
-
is,
involves
that
going
On
home
the other
act
am
sure,
In
innocent
bine
song's
but,
role
and
in common
love
and
her
with
lust,
be
they would
the
chorus
enough;
woman's
more
what
imagine
the
even
speaker's
so,
they
inciting
confirm
of American
sensual/sexual
on
they
sug
him
feels
to sex
leading
there.
get
seem
instructions/declarations
in the
objectification
the posture
once
doing
tonight,"
is immediately
him. We can, I
(getting away from him), that power
declaration
that she is going home with
by his
ual actualization
challenged
the one
its syntax
wining
the virtual
without
me
with
hand,
if the woman
and
circular
sexual body parts. On
of the hips and connected
speaker's
taken
songs,
dancehall:
. . .
going
uninitiated,
in the
mind
your
You're
thrusting motions
can
(Yea
You're
the
subordina
soca
of
in the Party
jamming
Pushing everything
Right back on top of me
But
sex
of
on me
wining
you're
theme
beat
notions
and
exhibition
simulated
readily
irresistible
Caribbean
a common
performative,
For the longest while we
And
female
with
danger
be
may
song's
long-ingrained
Consistent
more
message
in the
up
which
popular,
arguably
That
caught
specifically,
will.
the male
get
it sustains
but
melody,
male-female
tion
to
message,
salient.
become
it is easy
because
missed,
will
so
to be
continues
and
its coded
that
possibility
because
it was
because
precisely
the
of
performativity
unfolding
R & B,
scenario.
these
the
Having
lyrics
com
excitement:
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177
CULTURE
INCARIBBEAN
BACCHANALIAN
ANDOPPRESSION
FEMALE
AGENCY
178
So let me hold you
Girl caress my body
me
You
got
Turn
me
Let me
got
Turn
me
Inwining
is,
all around me
me
the
that
sexuality,
on.
may
act
not
does
In the
2004)
(Lyttle
of his
object
you
the woman
scenario
of her.
fication
me
Turn
all around him,
in this
. . .
crazy
going
on,
therefore,
woman
you
on.
you
jam
Girl wine
You
me
Turn
on,
. . .
crazy
going
is clearly performing
and
gaze
In other
desire.
assert
performatively
verse
second
erotic
the man's
deny
is an
there
for him and
while
words,
own
her
pleasure
on
fixation
and
that
indication
the
and
objecti
the
type
of
she is doing has something in common with dancehall's
wining
sexually
on
hand
and
the
dance
"One
styles:
explicit
ground
bumper [buttocks]
cock sky high, wining hard on me" (Lyttle 2004). The potential for vio
lence
upon
is
from
resulting
it is consistent
Clarke,
"Jordan,
and
performance
will
in her
on violence
study
to
exist
It iswhen
to add
ingredients
satisfy
"Turn Me On"
to
its mixed
turns most
urges.
(1998,
it
to
According
in Bar
in the sexist myth
10-11).
to dancehall
the macho,
gaze
wherein
women
against
clearly
that
recipe
roles,
finds its origins
of men"
the desires
libidinous
sexual
the man's
satisfy
bados, argues that this form of violence
that women
the male's
male-female
expected
the woman
that
anticipated
Roberta
that
with
violent
for some
is
attitude
a
obviously
expressed. The successful trend in R & B of adding
or street credibility
to an otherwise overly pop song
of
splash
grittiness
or artist by including a bridge done by a rapper apparently did not
most
the
escape
rapping
producer.
song's
in a fashion
is
Madzart
brought
in for
this
purpose
and,
similar to a dancehall DJ, he declares:
The girl ya nah go get way tonight
If she think mad man nah go fight
Me
Now
Basically,
corn
and
done feed she with
she want
popcarn and Sprite
come fly way like kite. (Lyttle 2004)
he says, "I have
Sprite
soda
and
spent money
she wants
to
on this girl in buying
leave
without
doing
me
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her pop
a sexual
FRANK
in return.
favor
But
is not
she
to
going
with
away
get
at
that,
not
least,
a
return favor is to satisfy his lust raised
fight." The expected
sexual gyrations. Consistent with Jor
through her dancing/simulated
dan's finding above, the group Change, founded and funded to research
without
and
world,
are
ty,
that
reports
the home,
media
on
reports
publish
and
school
the
for
churches
and
undermined
ual pleasure
and gratification
assume
this
that
is an effective
the woman
for
started
could
on
the
sexuali
of mass
for
objects
to
him
the
"Mad
speak
anger
without
consum
his
sex
man"
the
speaker's
sexually
Given
the
It is safe to
to
pronominally
floor.
dance
human
content
1982, 10-11).
adjective,
in
taught
the
in the Caribbean.
and
tease
being
the
and
as
(Change
reflexively
she
by
women
portray
as an
body
time
elsewhere
and,
thinking
was
what
mating
referring
Madzart,
same
the
of men"
exists
problem
pun,
himself,
er/DJ
at
which
messages
advertising
the
concerning
eroded
over
all
values
"the
children,
Jamaican
of women
status
and
condition
at
the
indignation,
mean he is going to make more of a determined
effort to
"fight" could
get her to go home with him, or it could mean he will attempt to over
come her sexually with blows, a practice still found socially acceptable
in many
ity
Caribbean
of most
desire
need
quarters.
male
human
to subjugate;
for
than the process
women
against
the
scenario
woman
that
the
by
the
the
object
lyrics,
aggressiveness?a
by
also
But,
the
sexually
means
male
Obviously,
the Caribbean.
song's
sexual
of it seems to lie in the
sexual
(1962, 23-24).
to
unique
suggested
of
of
element
significance
resistance
of wooing"
is not
other
violence
in
obviously,
exhibitionistic
and objectified.
Thus, she is not really in control
her
sexual subjugation. To
be the agent of
impending
is eroticized
and she cannot
suggest
beings
"The
Freud,
Sigmund
an
contains
the biological
overcoming
to
According
is to return
otherwise
a woman
to
contributes
us
in some
being
raped
to
ways
by
the
dressing
confounding
notion
revealingly.
DISGUISE
GIRL?'":THEGUISEOFA CARNIVAL
ORA SLAVE
"'PRINCESS
Caribbean
organised
reducing
?Roberta
Non-State
societies,
around
women
apart from
being cleavaged
race divisions,
by class and
hierarchical
gender power
relations with
to economic
and emotional
dependency.
Clarke,
Violence
Against
Women
male
are
domination
in the Caribbean:
State
Responses
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and
179
INCARIBBEAN
FEMALE
ANDOPPRESSION
BACCHANALIAN
CULTURE
AGENCY
180
The
macho
paternalistic,
toward
attitude
tests female
women's
sexual exhibition
con
that
sexuality
in Earl
is also witnessed
agency through
The Dragon Cant Dance (1998). Set in and around Port of
1959 and 1971, this novel portrays, among
Spain, Trinidad, between
other things, stylized displays of female sexuality, mainly during carni
Lovelace's
val
with
season,
site
significant
roles,
to contest
believe,
its
revelry,
old
subversive
allowing
Carnival
otherwise.
the
potential,
offers
to assume
and
roles,
in
practices
carnivalesque
of Caribbean
and
gender
ing
requisite
exhibitions
the
opportunity
new
masquerade
critical scrutiny. Ella Shohat and Robert
the
ing
ambiguities of carnival is quite useful:
carnivals
have
been
of various
to make
identities.
or
But,
act
carnival
Stam's
politically
is a
Carnival
for
careful
Historically,
tow.
regard
requires
insight regard
affairs,
ambiguous
sometimes
symbolic rebellions by the disenfran
constituting
of the
chised; at other times fostering the festive scapegoating
the
weak by
strong (or by the slightly less weak). Carnivals,
and
artistic
carnivalesque
or
sive
what
it
regressive;
historical
are
practices,
on who
depends
for what
situation,
not
is
In The Dragon Cant Dance, Miss
Sylvia,
the
The
women
sexual
a
power,
"princess,"
both
However,
carnivalize
are
First,
masquerade.
her
Cleo
and
Cleo
to attain
sexuality
the
and
ends.
exploited.
is make-believe
possess
Sylvia
her
abusing
to
mulattohood
remains
what
deploys
man
in what
the "queen,"
(Cleo),
their
with
along
Miss
neighbors,
of
among
actually
Miss
power
use
in
whom,
in the original)
Cleothilda
make
both
and
purposes,
ner. (Shohat and Stam 1994, 304,
emphasis
progres
essentially
carnivalizing
sexu
of her
ality. The narrator describes her habit of "strutting about the yard with
her rouged cheeks and padded hips, husbanding
her fading beauty,
her
twin
and
that
that she
flaunting
gold bangles
gold rings
proclaim
was
once
married,
cheeks,
her
padded
costume
provocative
dresses,
wearing
her a chance will
hips,
arsenal,
dancehall
show her
gold
thighs"
costumes.
seems
(Lovelace
and
accessories,
which
her
showing
to
that
if you
1998, 17). The
dress
revealing
prefigure
According
knees,
the more
to Norman
are
all
elaborate
Stolzoff:
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give
rouged
part
of
and
FRANK
The
of fashion and the erotic display of the female
important to the dancehall event. The body was
celebration
body became
a
now
site
nettes"
as
the
buttocks
the
colors, mesh
nose
tops, large jewelry
and
rings),
elaborate
Cleo's
1998,
(Lovelace
itself
17),
a
upon
dependent
tion:
or
seen
to be
the need
Because
Miss
status
gender
Miss
appears
All
with
quo,
Cleo's
relationship
to be
in
year
dating,
refusing
to
even
give
authority
with
Philo,
"queenship"
to power
claim
valuation
and
is
valida
is
determined
partly
serves
That
a
is made
control
patri
by
to maintain
the
relationship
in
clear
in which Miss
Cleo
at first:
least
on
hostile,
far
less
and
shamelessness
unaccommo
of her presumed
encouragement
who
street,
and
superior
still from the height
the
her
that
that merely
in control.
across
and
new
the
married.
to power
recognition
calypsonian
endurance
having
carried
she
long
But
hierarchical
been
men
at
charge,
of
part
projecting
others.
gender-based,
of
all
of
wigs
rings, earrings,
became
of
way
over
claim
it is a projection
archy,
a
power
Cleo's
(pants
2000, 110)
is
as
more
printers"
genitalia),
all
by
Francis
expose
(gold bangles,
hairdos
(Stolzoff
"costuming"
which
"Puny
a woman's
of
"don
"ass-ets"
Chester
shorts
. . .
it conceals."
outlines
fashion ensemble.
Miss
of
pair
financial
which
riders,"
or
These
adornment.
and
physical
"batty
"a skirt
than
showed
of
degrees
their
labeled
defines
Jackson
that
increasing
clothes
wearing
of
of
demonstrated
by
hope,
whatever
after
gentility
to Philo,
the
miracle
of
seventeen
years
this passion for her, dismissing him with that brisk
turn of her head, the raising of her eyelashes and the sucking of
her teeth, in one fluid gesture of disgust that she could perform
still nursed
better
than anybody
else. (Lovelace
1998, 18)
important point here is that Miss Cleo is performing
over Philo; the goal of that performance
is the projection
The
which
work's
to
makes
title,
"threaten
actual
power,
it a carnivalesque
some
power"
act.
disenfranchised
(186).
But
a fact
applicable
scene
In the main
men
their
"show-off
charade
to Miss
Cleo.
pertaining
power"
is not
superiority
of power,
in an
to
effort
a demonstration
Philo
is, as of yet,
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this
o?
an
181
182
INCARIBBEAN
CULTURE
ANDOPPRESSION
BACCHANALIAN
FEMALE
AGENCY
and all that is required for Miss Cleo to succumb
musician,
to his fetishistic
is for him to begin to attain the trappings
objective
after
for him to be successful.
of patriarchal
power,
Immediately
unsuccessful
Philo's
with
as a calypsonian,
their relationship changes,
softening her parries to Philo's thrusts, until
initial breakthrough
"Miss Cleo gradually
it wasn't Carnival,
Philo had begun to ascend Miss
although
Cleothilda's
steps and sit down on her verandah and play with her dog"
The
ultimate
(136).
sign of Miss Cleo being controlled by Philo is her
soon,
one
of his philandering
acceptance
willing
of
his many
lovers.
and her related
one
Leaving
of
his
one
Jo Ann,
lovers,
young
as just
position
ends up much later at Miss Cleo's:
"A drowsy
eventually
was
out
two
in
her
and
she
her
hands
and
drew him
held
voice,
delight
inside" (239).
Philo
night,
In The Dragon Can't Dance,
narrator
ty. The
their
"In
like Miss
who,
Sylvia,
Cleo,
hearts,
the
cheered
they
to have
appears
how
describes
to Miss
the heir
power
on,
her
women
sexuali
view
at her
hurrahs
singing
is
"queendom"
through
older
community's
her
Cleo's
her:
and
speed
and laughing, watching with joyful breathlessness
how
dangerousness
a
men
movement
she tied up the tongues of young
with
of her head and
caused old men
to sigh for their youth as they watched her sitting cross
on
the steps before the rooms inwhich she lived" (Lovelace 1979,
legged
26).
But
the
power
in the
apparent
of young
tying
men
sighing for their youth is artificial.
termined by male desire. Her desire
exhibitionism
nor
body
Sylvia
is
displayed
her
brain.
have
turns
she
up with
her,
in the band?" Their
playing
the softening
curves
of her
and
tongues
reclaim
with
preoccupation
own
her
That
her.
the
turn
They
men
young
and
ask
her:
are bursting
of
the
"Sylvia,
in
area,
you
up her ankles, along
eyes sweeping
thighs and breasts,
desiring her,
one
to
each
of
have
her
them,
wishing,
jumping up with him in
the band for Carnival, when, with
the help of rum and the
rhythm
would
of
abandon
find his way
and
old
outset:
thoughts of Carnival.
Everywhere
grown
the
to
her
allows
erotic
from
is dizzy with
who
neither
the men's
discourages
interest
sexual
carnival
during
men's
In reality, Sylvia's life is overde
to assert herself through sexual
surrender
into her flesh.
that
conquered
everyone
(24)
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he
FRANK
object of the much older Mr. Guy, whose
to
the rent collector
leads her own mother, Miss Olive,
in her exploitation:
Sylvia
is also the fetishized
power
in being
participate
Once Mr Guy had felt her breasts, cupping them in his hands in
that sly cunning hug, pretending fatherly affection; and one day
to his room while
she had crept upstairs
his
behind
his moustaches
curtains,
for her
he waited
and
trembling
radio
his
on,
and she had given him the message; her mother didn't have the
she had lifted her downcast
for the rent. Afterwards,
money
to his as she felt his thick fingers slide up and down her
as his chest rose
thigh in that gesture of aggression and taming,
and his nostrils flared; and she smiled, laughed in that same
eyes
that feigned play in which
innocence,
to her, and slipped away. (25)
knowing
advances
Here,
own
her
play"
"feigned
Olive's
Guy
of
of
conduct
in the Caribbean
implanted
that
a
also
and
women
both
men
her
lack of control
are
he
day
Miss
came
In
unconsciously.
Sylvia's
(2002).
fit
sense,
men
both
this
resignation
system,
regarding
instinctive
and her
continues:
to
downstairs
And
Olive."
that
in her shamelessness
is implied
as the narrator
Next
and
victims"
strictest
super-ordination
was
there
her mother:
tell
in her
"Your
even
no
then
rent
is
as
shame
she looked up at him, shaved and neat, his hair well parted and
his tie hanging down his chest, for she knew then, already, with
that
instinctive
that
between
woman
seven
even
or
(Lovelace
before
connivance
rent
the
this man,
with
arranged
ment
refined
knowing
and
children
she knew
of
her
by
seventeen
and
collector,
no man
it, even
mother.
either,
her
was
the
this
hill,
a
mother,
she was
the
without
She
on
years
the
system
notes
Hope
in its
dominance
of male
of
patriarchal
Donna
times.
male
consciously
and women
the
in
the play.
is a consequence
from
slavery
only
ideology
maintain
knowledge
okay,
persistent
of
daughter
resulting
since
is not
"patriarchy
but
her
his
participation
performative
is author/authority
exploitation
codes
hegemonic
tingly
Mr.
exploitation;
Miss
is a sign of Sylvia's
he couched
the
gift
encourage
sacrifice.
1998, 25)
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183
FEMALE
INCARIBBEAN
AGENCY
ANDOPPRESSION
CULTURE
BACCHANALIAN
184
true
The
of
guise
male
costume
protagonist
she wants:
I tell
when
girl?'"
"'It
you.
costume.
in carnival
princess
because,
to
sexual
the
no
interest,
said
she
in
a slave
Play
reality,
girl'"
a
play
But
the
suggests
laugh
a
or
reference
are:
a slave
no
slave
to one
is a
'"You
is
here
role-playing
more
of
it ain't
see,
you
the
type
will
princess
of what
(34).
life
Sylvia's
of others,
control
'You
bashfully.
opposite
the
You
a
reply is specific
a role
playing
. . .
describes
costume.
I should
feel
in her
clear
scene with Aldrick,
she
expensive
big
girl,'
You
of
already.
ironic
love
1998, 34). Aldrick's
(Lovelace
pattern
her
ain't
. . . slave
A
expensive
big
and
is made
power
In a telling
costumes.
limited choice of carnival
central
with
masquerade
Sylvia's
girl,
subject
men.
especially
DANCEHALL
ANDTHECULTURE
QUEENS
OF COMPENSATION
is repugnant,
Obscenity
more
to it than
are connected
with
vomits
society
other
Among
beauty
rejection
of what
devout, maternal
dancehall
toward
are
pageants
acolytes
combination
for
suggest,
a
instance,
for the mythical
1999, 68). She adds, "The
explicit
traditional
culture
low-brow
of the
outfits
to middle-class
retort
(68). While
of
carnivalize
as "nostalgia
a defiant
black women"
up society.
and contests
clothing
utterances
(Edmondson
and deliberately
. . . are
whom
it, people
and Sensuality
identifies
black woman"
create
that they in turn vomit
Death
these
who
with
atti
"beauty
high-brow
(14), dancehall pageantry has no such pretence, but revels
in the low. Freud's observation
of children's lack of shame
pretensions"
shamelessly
to
pertains
Edmondson
a curious
level of the people
dancehall
and
should see
nothing
to see that its
ignoble sides
that timid minds
but it is easy
Eroticism:
pageants,
poor
it is natural
in the same way
'brazen' demeanor
apparently
tudes
forth
significations,
traditional
female
the social
Bataille,
?Georges
and
this unpleasantness,
the
infantilism
without
essentially
shame,
show an unmistakable
of my
aspect
at
and
satisfaction
some
"Small
argument:
periods
of
their
children
earliest
are
years
in exposing
their bodies, with especial
on
the
sexual
emphasis
parts" (Freud 1962, 58). If the spate o?Hot Mondays
and Passa Passa DVDs
are any
(available from dancehallreggae.com)
dancehall
indication,
great
their
satisfaction
in
girls do seem shameless
exposing
their
bodies,
and indeed appear to take
calling
special
attention
genitalia.
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to
FRANK
Edmondson
and
reflects
"In
reasons,
by women
als performed
furthers
the Caribbean
the
certain
for
struggles
power
'work' that both
the various
among
ritu
culture
popular
a kind of
ideological
constitute
ethnici
ties and classes in the region" (Edmondson 2003, 2). Iwould add that such
also reflects and furthers the struggle for power
ideological work
between
the
and
genders,
that the optimism
function
(see the introduction
lar work
done
The
or
made
an
agency,
such
agency
sense
of
matters
gender
sexual
through
its
and
performance
to this essay) is quite right, but the particu
statement
of
implication
of
female
Edmondson's
suspect.
area
in the
precisely
Caribbean
regarding
seems
performance
it is
women
dancehall
by
is not
intent,
the
is less
obvious.
For
instance,
itself.
thing
"The dancehall
is the social space inwhich the smell of
in the extravagant
display of flashy jewellery,
Cooper contends,
female power is exuded
elaborate
clothes,
expensive
ment
substantial wealth"
represent
altogether
non
uncharacteristic,
o?
sexual
and
and
hairstyles
economic
that
in an
(1995, 155). Additionally,
she
moment,
sequitur
men
attendant
rigidly
of
speaks
"women's
enjoy
as demonstrated
independence,
in
their
of "wining"] on the dance
[Jamaican
floor" (157). A few questions come immediately tomind: Does uninhibit
ed solo wining
Indeed, is that wining
equal independence?
really solo?
in the dancehall to view themselves in
That is, is it possible for women
uninhibited
solo wainin
the spotlight
of the male
scrutiny"
Edmondson
the domestic
space has traditionally
feminine,
priately
the
and
interrogated
the woman's
wise
is
femininity
mances.
It is whether
By way
the
her"
pathologizes
women's
texts
or
femininity,
a
proper
such
performances
that
if
as innately and appro
such
that
to public
any
cross
space must
that
be
preserves
or other
that masculinizes
the issue for us is not whether
or
in dancehall
preserved
theory
intervention
violation
(2003, 2). But
feminist
ismasculine,
from private
a social
of concluding,
occasioning
been marked
as either
assessed
of
their
male
important,
equally
is a truism
space
public
by women
ing of the boundaries
or,
(155),
"It
suggests,
then
at the same time
articulating
gaze while
of male
"independence
authority?
variant
are
other
eroticized
perfor
liberating!
let us turn to the film Dancehall Queen, one o?
views
Cooper's
regarding
and women's
dancehall
to the issue of the control of female bodies,
agency. First, pertinent
this film and Lovelace's novel in that
there is a striking parallel between
in both
mothers
ters: somewhat
play
a role
in men's
like Miss Olive
sexual
and Sylvia,
exploitation
of
their
in this case, Marcia
daugh
allows
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185
CULTURE
INCARIBBEAN
ANDOPPRESSION
BACCHANALIAN
FEMALE
AGENCY
186
her
benefactor,
ter,
Second,
Tanya.
assume
to
Larry,
Larry
which
that motivates
crucial
her
...
Third,
of her
the
existence.
everyday
so essential
As
new
to her
role,
she becomes
is true.
for
courted
the
by
els in the male
Larry
is the
"temporary"
permits
queen'
in the
repressed
and
the wigs
drudgery
accessories
other
suitors
like
the
Bitch"!
"Sexy
as
is fetishized,
she
videog
(128). This
'Mystery Lady'
the
becomes
she
videographer,
gaze"
same
The
been
the seductive
she
tem
title and the
to attract
is able
money,
prize
however
of'dancehall
she flaunts
she
rapher, for whom
However,
had
to seduce
prizes?the
long will it be before Marcia,
persona
that
sensuality
the
the double
"The
proposes,
Cooper
savor
to
is
Here,
127).
money?Marcia
displaces Olivene. How
an
of
the
scene, is displaced?
interloper
Marcia
It
to
inspired
in order
independence,
(2004b,
to claim
daugh
is not
Queen
daughter.
Marcia"
In order
point.
Cooper,
economic
of
fifteen-year-old
"Marcia
of Dancehall
from
a measure
guarantees
porary,
to
disguise
him
divert
of her
advantage
according
the dazzling
and
take
even
And,
rev
"unashamedly
(128).
camera's
that
eye
as a
Marcia
"redefines
worthy
subject
her. In fact, the men
(128) may be seen as objectifying
the cameras remain firmly in control of female dancehall repre
of attention"
behind
the more
sentations:
crotch
seeking
and
point
The
dressed
Tanya
looking
a
of
"Mama,
and
reversal
you?"
associated
fashion
of
"You
inwhich
the
actually
the mother's
words,
is that
if she has no shame in going
style
chastises,
In other
that?"
sort
is a critical
unashamed
being
age (this is one of the ways
in
questioningly
like
in a
is cameras
dancehall
exclamation,
daughter's
younger
Continuing
interloper).
role,
Finally,
inappropriately,
of amuch
women
the
real
the
is really asking her mother
daughter
around
of women.
shots
it is behind
in
pattern
typical
with
she is an
mother-daughter
on
went
exhibition
the
road
a
mark's
initiated
degree of infantilism, a sort of stunted growth and formation
her
motherhood.
is
much
revealed
Marcia
This
when
young
by
angrily
confronts
after
Tanya
because
no
will
Tanya
threatens
Larry
longer
accept
to
stop
the
playing
price
of
"Santa
his
Claus"
patronage.
her interrupted and lost standard education and childhood,
Bemoaning
Marcia admonishes,
"Maybe I should really blame you! From my moth
er and
with
father
you.
It
is
throw
And
me
out
that was
intriguing
that
of
the
end
Cooper
the house
of my
cites
when
Iwas
fifteen
and
pregnant
education."
Maggie
Humm's
reference
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to
FRANK
Laura
Mulvey's
use
film
trols
of
exposition
two
the male
forms
women's
over
of mastery
sexuality
a sadistic
her:
women:
at women
looking
in
con
which
voyeurism
male
dominating
through
over
and mastery
gaze
the idea that men
first introduced
"'Laura Mulvey
a
and
characters,
of women's
symbolic fetishisation
(128). Her goal is really
sexuality'"
that recog
of
"the
of
Humm's modified
reading
politics
spectatorship
nizes
the
not
escapes
being
hers
the
and
object.
that
of
the
by
Marcia's
abetting
sexual
the
object,
is not what
humanity
and
sex,
is
and Priest
daughter,
character,
as
"'on
really
that:
"a wicked,
the
sexual
society,
over
power
Cooper
in
encoded
her
is
her.
clot
her
is control
her
through
by another
terrorist"),
vio
through
Priest
who
into
others
no
feel
will
(1982,
are
"the
their
at all levels
to exercise
will,
10).
of
patterns
and
seduction
in
surviving
archetypes,
to use
compunction
relations
to
submission
powerless'"
that
folktale
into
Besides,
stake
described
henchmen,
If
inhuman.
vicariously,
in the structure of male/female
the
or
at
in
dressing
transformation
really
Larry,
blood
fringe
believes
claims,
her"
or
human
than
she
is the type of character who fits
as
in the Change
by Ruth Dunbar
study
being
those described
to beat
does
that
Cooper
dehumanizes
control
the mental/emotional
the implicit power
of
less
stake. What
lence and the threat of violence.
among
her
(one of Larry's
Chalice,
case,"
a street vendor
videographer
men
various
or
action
the
objectification,
at
being
videographer?rehumanizes
not make
does
clothes
working-class
of
agent
and
desiring
in being observed
"In Marcia's
she not human before? Being
(129). Was
anything,
an
or
in
take
do
agents
takes pleasure
necessarily
a fetish
"desire?both
of her
is
she
that
as
that a woman
(129). But
mean
a mere
that women
pleasure
desired"
the
entrapment
contemporary
in new guises" (2004b, 144). If this is the case, the question,
she
then, iswho is seduced and who is ultimately
trapped? Even while
dancehall
contests
the
overly
simplistic
reading
of
the male
dancehall
as
posture
Donna
that being dominated
Hope acknowledges
wholly misogynistic,
a reflection of the
for dancehall women,
is a likely outcome
by males
woman's
condition
the lyrics
themselves,
symbols
utilised
gate and ultimately
but
not
least,
Change
Jamaican
society
together
and
disseminators
creators,
are
in
by
the male
defeat
cites
with
consumers
in his
that feared
Peggy
at
discussions
reveal
attempt
other,
Antrobus,
examination
of
dancehall
song
"Closer
large:
that
with
these
to court,
manifestations
conquer,
the female"
who
observes
subju
(2002). Last
of
Jamaica
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187
ANDOPPRESSION
INCARIBBEAN
FEMALE
AGENCY
BACCHANALIAN
CULTURE
188
that
"while
tudes
the
and
and
Jamaica
control,
other
of California,
University
research
interest
postcolonial,
He
studies.
gender
of New
lege, City University
and
other
power.
his Ph.D.
African
the
from
and
teaching
colonial,
diaspora
at Baruch
teaches
currently
self
perform
He has an abiding
Los Angeles.
in Caribbean
and
may
in real
KEVIN FRANKreceived
decision
firmly entrenched
women
lacking
confidence,
and
power
such amilieu
remain
displays
in Guyana,
and raised
of
in which
in
lacking
the Caribbean,
of
a milieu
the main-stream
1982, 7).With
parts
sexual
subordinate,
atti
the values,
equality,
create
society
be
outside
general
their
but
Born
in
proclaim
whole
to
(qtd. in Change
making"
in
the
of
considered
and
oppressed
institutions
and
practices
are
women
laws
Col
York.
NOTE
1.
ture
(i) Dancehall
emergent
both
passed
tural
in which
and
in economic,
traditional,
over;
(selektah)
over
the
chats
one-drop
this type of music
the music
plays
rhythm
or
reggae
is rooted
while
(riddim)
in
components:
that has arguably
sound
systems
like a rap
somewhat
rapid-style
the crowd
sur
and cul
social,
in competing
the DJ,
cul
expressive
the culture's
music
the world
or
are among
The
following
is the drum machine,
sample-based
the selector
toasts
per,
calypso
impact
an entire
in that it encompasses
hip hop
Jamaica.
music
(a) Dancehall
to
is akin
from
delivery,
by
turns
often
of
exhorting,
admonishing
(massive),
by boasting
or
or
mas
female
The
dancehall
crowd,
exploits
sexuality,
celebrating
(b)
men
both
and performing
includes
and women.
the
sive,
However,
observing
women
more
attention
for
for
dress
or,
up
(dancehall
girls) gain
dressing
especially
down. Video men
ing provocatively,
including
dressing
(to date I have not observed
enlivening,
sexual
or heard
of a woman
pete
(the
"Dutty Wine"
are related
There
correlation
between
sexual
explicitness
setting
where
dancehall
the
increase
in dance
the dancehall
music,
(ii) Carnival
and
in this
role)
on these women,
com
shine bright
who
spotlights
or
in
otherwise
eye by gyrating
dancing
explicit ways
sexually
or
is one such craze;
Bounce"
is another).
Dirty Wine
"Willy
to
seems
for
Dancehall
and
there
be a direct
Queen,
competitions
for the camera's
other
refers
in prize money
and dress,
massive
forms may
for
(c) Dancehall
to revel.
gathers
be played,
to the
setting,
these
events
is also
In these
and
the
an interior
spaces,
in addition
standing
to
R & B and soca.
including
the ideal, and the manifestation
of ritualistic
riotous
penitence
increased
or exterior
and masquerading
feasting,
merrymaking,
leading up to Lent. Under
carnival
not
associated
with
the Caribbean
in terms of space, time,
merely
and purging,
but as an ideal,
is important
its shifty and
given
shifting
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All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
FRANK
nature
some
in the region
the diaspora,
and among
where
are combined
and take place
with
other purposes
both
brations
Imean
soca
(iii) By
ed and
the partying
dancehalls
an
has had
that dancehall
noting
can be very
are blend
Caribbean
soca is
to
party),
gather
or
in dancehall,
dancing
on
influence
hegemonic
it isworth
said that,
Having
suggestive.
increasing
of the year,
contemporary
people
like dancing
and,
sexually
times
soul and calypso
In most
where
spaces
selection
of the musical
to soca music
"wining"
interior
the
in which
genre
that music.
with
associated
(especially
component
major
the musical
both
cele
carnivalesque
at other
soca music
and
dance.
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Culture
in